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RC Plane Chase Using a Drone

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  • RC Plane Chase Using a Drone

    Besides FliteTest and vendors, I don't see too many videos of RC plane chase using drones. But I think our planes are so beautiful in the air and deserve to be seen in all their glory close-up in their element, and the best way to do it is with a drone! So share your RC plane chase videos here!

    I will start off. I admit race/free style quads are best suited for the job. But at the moment, all I have is a DJI Mavic Pro, so I make do the best I can. The following was shot using Mavic Pro with Goggles RE with head tracking enabled.

    YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/motionsic
    Currently Flying: Sebart PC-21, Taft Cobra, 3DHS Osiris 60, CZ Splendor, FMS PC-21(FPV), FMS BF-109 1400mm, DJI Mavic Pro (FPV plane chase), FMS Fox Glider 2.32m, Flyzone Seawind
    RC Home Base: Bob Swenson Memorial Field - Orange County Modeler's Assoc. Float Plane Base: Huckleberry Pond - Anaheim Model Airplane Club

  • #2
    I'm kinda 50/50 on this, as I seen flite test crack up a few planes as well as other people trying to film their planes with drones. I mean if both pilots understand, and are ok with the risk involved, all good, but it's not something I'm comfortable with no mater the skill of the other pilot.

    Comment


    • #3
      You are right to be cautious. The Flite Test guys has an audience to entertain and often opt for dramatic/comedic effect of close miss or crash over prudence to get views. Also since most of what they fly are given to them as review items, they don’t suffer the sting of a crash like us. The average RC flyer with hard earned dollars invested in their equipments should approach formation by paying attention to safety first. Like the BlueAngels or Thunderbirds, when first starting out to practice formations, they are very far apart from each other and only after countless practices of the same routines do they get to as close a formation as we see them perform.

      I would offer some tips for anyone starting out with formations:
      1. Find a very smooth stick with good eye sight that has a passion for flying formation as flight lead.

      2. He needs to also be patient flying mundane maneuvers like race track patterns over and over until chase plane can get familiar with sight picture of Airplane in the air and close the formation.

      3. Flight lead need to clearly communicate what moves he will do next with chase. So chase can anticipate and make appropriate moves to stay in formation and not rely only on reaction to what he sees on screen.

      4. practice, practice, practice! It takes time for lead and chase pilots to develop a feel for each other’s flying. Do not expect to have close formation shots on the first few flight.

      Hope this helps for someone getting into formation flying. It requires precision in flying and results in very challenging and rewarding experience. When done well, the flights are exhilarating and videos are awesome. Here’s a great example:
       
      YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/motionsic
      Currently Flying: Sebart PC-21, Taft Cobra, 3DHS Osiris 60, CZ Splendor, FMS PC-21(FPV), FMS BF-109 1400mm, DJI Mavic Pro (FPV plane chase), FMS Fox Glider 2.32m, Flyzone Seawind
      RC Home Base: Bob Swenson Memorial Field - Orange County Modeler's Assoc. Float Plane Base: Huckleberry Pond - Anaheim Model Airplane Club

      Comment


      • #4
        I've done a few videos this way, and it works quite well with one exception. The main issue I've had is the speed differential. Almost always, even a slow flying airplane will outrun an AP quad. A race quad like Flite Test uses would work much better, but you'll need a very skilled pilot and some specialized gear. Here's what I've come up with working with my friend to get air to air from his Phantom 3:

        Comment


        • #5
          F106,

          Cool videos with very cinematic music. You are right about the speed difference between typical plane and Aerial Photography drone. So here are a couple more tips to setup for success:

          5. Ideal lead plane should be large, bright scheme (large contrast with back ground), and can fly slowly - best flown with partial flaps to lower stall speed

          6. Fly the AP drone inside the turns of lead plane to keep pace even while flying slower....
           
          YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/motionsic
          Currently Flying: Sebart PC-21, Taft Cobra, 3DHS Osiris 60, CZ Splendor, FMS PC-21(FPV), FMS BF-109 1400mm, DJI Mavic Pro (FPV plane chase), FMS Fox Glider 2.32m, Flyzone Seawind
          RC Home Base: Bob Swenson Memorial Field - Orange County Modeler's Assoc. Float Plane Base: Huckleberry Pond - Anaheim Model Airplane Club

          Comment


          • #6
            Hey Deltadart, I've been to that field before, long ago I came home on r&r from Iraq and had a twin edf F14 I had shipped to my friends house there, and we tried to fly it at the field there, but was severely underpowered and crashed. I thought it was a nice field to fly at for sure. That was pretty much when I ended my love for edf planes as well.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by rifleman_btx View Post
              Hey Deltadart, I've been to that field before, long ago I came home on r&r from Iraq and had a twin edf F14 I had shipped to my friends house there, and we tried to fly it at the field there, but was severely underpowered and crashed. I thought it was a nice field to fly at for sure. That was pretty much when I ended my love for edf planes as well.
              That’s awesome rifleman, you are welcome back here anytime you are in the area! Sorry to hear about the 14 though. As for Edfs, they have come a looong way in the last couple of years, ever since Motion got involved. Might need to get you on the sticks of the F-86 or A-10.

              Comment


              • #8
                I would love a good A10

                Comment


                • #9
                  Apparently, chasing planes with a drone is a very niche pursuit. It takes two well coordinated flyers to turn out good results. Or there is always the easier route of using slow-motion My son and I recently started flying together to get better at this. He uses a race/freestyle drone which has proven to be much better suited than AP drones.

                  Here is a video of him chasing my Freewing P-51D Old Crow (too close):
                   
                  YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/motionsic
                  Currently Flying: Sebart PC-21, Taft Cobra, 3DHS Osiris 60, CZ Splendor, FMS PC-21(FPV), FMS BF-109 1400mm, DJI Mavic Pro (FPV plane chase), FMS Fox Glider 2.32m, Flyzone Seawind
                  RC Home Base: Bob Swenson Memorial Field - Orange County Modeler's Assoc. Float Plane Base: Huckleberry Pond - Anaheim Model Airplane Club

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Son chased my Avios Spitfire with race quad; at a safe distance this time. 80% playback speed to make footage look like full scale.
                     
                    YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/motionsic
                    Currently Flying: Sebart PC-21, Taft Cobra, 3DHS Osiris 60, CZ Splendor, FMS PC-21(FPV), FMS BF-109 1400mm, DJI Mavic Pro (FPV plane chase), FMS Fox Glider 2.32m, Flyzone Seawind
                    RC Home Base: Bob Swenson Memorial Field - Orange County Modeler's Assoc. Float Plane Base: Huckleberry Pond - Anaheim Model Airplane Club

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Nice!. Unfortunately, we can't do drones as video chase aircraft at our field, as our proximity to Marana Municipal Airport put our club in the position of needing to institute a firm "no drones" rule, to keep the airport from objecting to our presence.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Hoomi,

                        There’s always the option of putting the FPV camera on the plane, if you don’t call it a drone...
                         
                        YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/motionsic
                        Currently Flying: Sebart PC-21, Taft Cobra, 3DHS Osiris 60, CZ Splendor, FMS PC-21(FPV), FMS BF-109 1400mm, DJI Mavic Pro (FPV plane chase), FMS Fox Glider 2.32m, Flyzone Seawind
                        RC Home Base: Bob Swenson Memorial Field - Orange County Modeler's Assoc. Float Plane Base: Huckleberry Pond - Anaheim Model Airplane Club

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Oh, did I mention there’s a head tracking cam in the Spitfire meant for dog fighting... hehe

                           
                          YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/motionsic
                          Currently Flying: Sebart PC-21, Taft Cobra, 3DHS Osiris 60, CZ Splendor, FMS PC-21(FPV), FMS BF-109 1400mm, DJI Mavic Pro (FPV plane chase), FMS Fox Glider 2.32m, Flyzone Seawind
                          RC Home Base: Bob Swenson Memorial Field - Orange County Modeler's Assoc. Float Plane Base: Huckleberry Pond - Anaheim Model Airplane Club

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Yeah, we have at least a couple of guys flying FPV rigs on their planes, though I haven't seen them try to do chase videos yet.

                            I just go with the keychain camera mounted on the plane, so I record in-flight video, while flying line-of-sight.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Son is getting pretty good shooting at my plane from different angles. Some close calls though....
                               
                              YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/motionsic
                              Currently Flying: Sebart PC-21, Taft Cobra, 3DHS Osiris 60, CZ Splendor, FMS PC-21(FPV), FMS BF-109 1400mm, DJI Mavic Pro (FPV plane chase), FMS Fox Glider 2.32m, Flyzone Seawind
                              RC Home Base: Bob Swenson Memorial Field - Orange County Modeler's Assoc. Float Plane Base: Huckleberry Pond - Anaheim Model Airplane Club

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Chasing a plane with another plane and keeping the subject plane in frame is hard. When done through goggles, it may be even harder. I've tried and it's very hard. Chasing a plane with an FPV quad is very, very hard. A young fellow who used to fly with me tried to do this and he is a very good FPV quad pilot and he was able to only capture my plane in frame for about 25% of the time. As good as he was, I believe he needed to be an "expert" FPV quad pilot (like a quad racing pilot who ranks high in competitions).
                                Another guy I fly with is also a fairly good quad racing pilot and he too, was only able to keep my plane in frame for a small percentage of the time. I guess being "fairly" good is not enough to chase a plane and keep it in frame. The best that can happen is the video is mostly full of scenery. The worst that can happen is a "mid-air".

                                So having said that, what are the odds that at any given flying field, you have someone who is at that high a level of quad racing skill?

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  The lead pilot being extremely smooth and tells the chase pilot his next move is at least 50% of the battle. You will also notice I flew deliberately at slow speed (close to stall) with some flapeon lowered, to make it easier for the chase pilot. It takes smooth sticks, deliberate practice and strict discipline for separation to do this successfully.

                                  My son has only been flying drones for about a year, and only very sporadically. I’d say average once every two or three weeks. He has not participated in races. He did practice quite often on the simulator when he first pickuped the hobby. So luckily repair bill has been low.

                                  Few fighter pilots eventually become aces. So you are right in saying success may very....

                                  Here’s a short clip of me engaging in choreographed dogfight, plane to plane with a working gun sight. Hope to one day let loose and chase an evading bogey. Not there yet...
                                   
                                  YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/motionsic
                                  Currently Flying: Sebart PC-21, Taft Cobra, 3DHS Osiris 60, CZ Splendor, FMS PC-21(FPV), FMS BF-109 1400mm, DJI Mavic Pro (FPV plane chase), FMS Fox Glider 2.32m, Flyzone Seawind
                                  RC Home Base: Bob Swenson Memorial Field - Orange County Modeler's Assoc. Float Plane Base: Huckleberry Pond - Anaheim Model Airplane Club

                                  Comment


                                  • #18


                                    Hi guys I've been the chase pilot for Motion RC for the last 8 months. Prior to Motion I had been doing this for a year or two for another RC company, aside from their product videos you can see a collection of edits here.

                                    I could go deep into camera choices, pilot communication, framerates/resolutions, and whatever other question you have.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Awesome chase videos, Alex! I especially love how you transition from side to side sliding forward and underneath the planes for a momentary head-on shot. Is it possible to maintain in that position for long? I guess due to the orientation of camera and prop of the chase drone, there's a bend or ring of suitable positions going around the plane that the drone need to stay in to keep pace....

                                      Please feel free to enlighten us on any suggestions you may have looking at my chase footage. I would love your insight on any of the subjects that you brought up....
                                      YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/motionsic
                                      Currently Flying: Sebart PC-21, Taft Cobra, 3DHS Osiris 60, CZ Splendor, FMS PC-21(FPV), FMS BF-109 1400mm, DJI Mavic Pro (FPV plane chase), FMS Fox Glider 2.32m, Flyzone Seawind
                                      RC Home Base: Bob Swenson Memorial Field - Orange County Modeler's Assoc. Float Plane Base: Huckleberry Pond - Anaheim Model Airplane Club

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Turbinefancy View Post
                                        Awesome chase videos, Alex! I especially love how you transition from side to side sliding forward and underneath the planes for a momentary head-on shot. Is it possible to maintain in that position for long? I guess due to the orientation of camera and prop of the chase drone, there's a bend or ring of suitable positions going around the plane that the drone need to stay in to keep pace....

                                        Please feel free to enlighten us on any suggestions you may have looking at my chase footage. I would love your insight on any of the subjects that you brought up....
                                        Thanks Turbine!

                                        Trying to get a head on shot is pretty much the most dangerous one you can go for. The shot directly head on can't really be held in place unless your camera was rear mounted and the plane was chasing you. You can however hold an slightly underneath the nose shot for a good bit. If the plane is moving slow enough you can really float around it and get some cool shots using smooth stick movements. Dial up some more expo to try and help smooth out any jerky camera movements. If you have a lot of wide open space it becomes easier to practice, because you are trying to learn to fly backwards using the plane as your guide as far as your altitude, speed, and camera angle. We used to fly in a wide open sod field so it was a great place to practice this. Now the field we film at is way tighter so it gets harder to pull off smoothly, so I end up having to go for an orbit shot more often.

                                        Pilot communication/sync/mental link is the most important aspect of this whole thing. I always tell my pilot to call out every major stick movement, preferably a few seconds before they even do it. I also tell them not to react (if possible) to anything the drone does or else that is when crashes happen. I can't really talk and focus on flying at the same time more than like "ok" "copy that" so most the time my pilot is just a stream of information. You got it right when you say the plane pilot has to fly in slow to medium speed, chances of getting a good continuous shot if they start free styling in a jet or fast prop plane are low. 3D planes can work for more freestyle type filming but its been a while since I've tried it.

                                        Your son is doing a great job for only being in it a year. What is his current set up?

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