24 January 2016

Why we fly

At first it’s a disorienting experience. There’s the initial embarrassment while you sit on the ground wearing video goggles unaware of your surroundings or the public. The video feed from the drone will have some static and isn’t your typical HD picture. Seeing yourself from the aircraft in the sky for the first time is confusing and your body moves around when the drone turns. The controls don’t perform like xBox or video games.

But after some time you start to forget who is who. It starts to feel natural. You forget the static, you forget you’re on the ground, you forget about your body. You fly.

You become the drone. You want to look left, you look left. You want to go up, you go up.

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An inside joke for many pilots is that we fantasize about flying obsessively. In car rides, commuting, seeing a new environment. I personally think about it any time I visit a new place. Usually about things that aren’t legal or safe – through grand central or alongside the train I ride home. My first thought always is, “I wish I could fly through here.”

My local club headquartered on Long Island, NY is named ‘FPV Addiction’, a group of like-minded fanatics. We jokingly treat FPV like a drug. We all share the obsession, we are literally addicted to the high of flight.

Today the community is small. There’s only a few hundred proper pilots. The ones with enough ‘stick time’ to be able to control the drone well, where lines look smooth and determined.

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Small improvements simply only make the illusion stronger. One invention helps with video signals. Another lets you go faster. Another lets you turn harder.

FPV quads reached race-quality stability over the last 6 months. And it’s not an addition of many new tools, but rather a mix of refinement and simplicity. There are no big sensors or special parts. Everything is based on a simple gyroscope reading. No GPS, no accelerometer.

When I first started to pilot, the craft would wobble in the air a bit – my control inputs weren’t exactly ‘sharp’. Today rigs are rock solid and sharp as a blade. For pilots who are reading this, think about life with 3000 looptimes, simonK, and openflight.

This is just the beginning. 2016 will show a tremendous about of improvements. There just so much room to grow. Which is so exciting to every pilot.

It’s a big year. The illusion is about to get a lot stronger.

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