Smithsonian Air & Space reports on R/C airplane hobbyists using cheap video cameras and eyeglass displays like Sony Glasstrons to get a pilot's eye view from the ground. Interviewed is Raphael Pirker, who flew his over camera-equipped plane around the Brooklyn Bridge last year and created a viral hit on YouTube (above). From Air & Space:
Pirker has a strong presence online, where he goes by Trappy. He and a friend, who calls himself RiSCyD ("Risky D"), are an informal flying duo called Team Black Sheep. Last December, Pirker stood in a park near New York City's East River, put on a pair of goggles, and flew around the Brooklyn Bridge. Later, he guided his airplane to the Statue of Liberty and buzzed her head. Team Black Sheep recorded the whole thing on video and posted it online, stirring up a Web-wide buzz about the legality of the flight (but mostly about how cool the footage is)…
First Person Video is growing among RC hobbyists. Although a few pioneers had mounted film cameras to gas-powered aircraft in the 1970s, veteran FPV pilot Scott Sells says the modern hobby dates to the late 1990s, when cheaper and smaller video systems became available. The first rigs required expertise in electronics and radio transmission, but since then have become much cheaper and easier to use. Now, says Sells, an FPV system is simple to set up and straightforward to fly, and can cost as little as $500.
He got into FPV in 2003, when he was having trouble controlling his traditional RC helicopter. It was hard to keep track of the vehicle's three-axis motion while looking at it from a distance. "I kept thinking, If I could just fly this thing from inside the cockpit, I'd have no problem."