have been flying radio control helicopters for about 9 years now.
For a while I was in an air show team, where I could do stunts
in front of hundreds of people. I also volunteered for a while
at my local hobby store to help with the helicopter section,
and would do demos in the afternoon. Funny, I would hover inverted
a few inches above the grass, fly backwards, etc, but the thing
that got the biggest reaction from the crowds was simply sitting
in a normal hover, punching the collective and going straight up.
When I was a kid I had a VertiBird helicopter toy. If you are
someone who remembers this immortal toy, be sure to check out my
When I was a kid I had a VertiBird helicopter toy. If you are someone who remembers this immortal toy, be sure to check out my VertiBird simulator!
I have done several interesting projects involving radio controlled helicopters, including a couple movie projects. One was a National Geographic Television documentary called "The Pigeon Murders" (see movie clips below). The documentary aired on January 9, 2000 on CNBC. You can get more information about the special from the National Geographic site. The helicopter we used had a small film camera attached to the underside. That's me on the left in the photo above.
Movie clips of the footage used for the National Geographic special are available from the website of the Information Control Engineering Lab at MIT.
I flew the camera heli around Central Park and down the streets of New York to create the scenes from a falcon's point of view as it was flying around looking for pigeons. I took off and landed from the top of a building, and even from the sidewalks on the side of the streets in-between pedestrians. Cool stuff. Most adrenalin I've ever had in my system at one time.
I also did some flying for an indie film, who's name now escapes me. Sorry. It was cool anyway. :-)
You can get more information about aerial photography using radio control helicopters from the Advanced Aerials website. This is the website of the guy I do my flying for.
I have flown for some aerial pictures of the Dulles Airport control tower. We had permission and clearance from the tower to fly, with clearance being coordinated by a airport security worker on the ground with us. I am actually in the picture on the right, in the shadows in the lower left corner. As with the National Geographic shots, the helicopter was actually being flown much farther from me than it would appear from these pictures.
In addition to the radio controlled helicopters, I flew real helicopters for a couple years. I flew a Robinson R-22. Nothing can quite describe the feeling of being the single person in an aircraft. This is a picture of me right after my first solo flight.