Virtual reality radio control flying

Roy sent me this one: a radio-controlled airplane with a difference. Here is a guy who modified his model plane to include not just a camera but a wireless video link so he can see what the plane sees as he flies. If you’ve ever tried to fly a model airplane, you know that it can be tricky to work how the plane is oriented. A video camera helps solve this problem, plus it gives you the opportunity to be a neighborhood voyeur, though not a terribly subtle one. So far this is the kind of thing that the military puts to use over Iraq, but this guy does one better: he puts the video camera on gimbals and matches the camera to the orientation of his head. Then, with the video display mounted on a special helmet, he gets the complete sensation of sitting in a tiny airplane, now looking left, now looking right. Sure looks like fun. Look closely and you’ll see he even painted tiny instruments in the model cockpit.

Improved technology is having a big impact on the world of model airplanes. These days, people can do insane aerobatics at an indoor basketball court with their radio-controlled airplanes.

And as long as we’re on aircraft-themed videos, here’s one of my favorites, this time with great big airplanes. This is an F-18 pilot taking his plane through its paces, but the very best part is the beginning. The action of the catapult has been perfectly timed to match the first chords of Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride.” Turn up the volume!

Watch this if you’ve ever wondered why fighter pilots are saddled with such monstrous egos. If you got to do that for a living, I don’t know how you’d avoid it.