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May 30, 2006 1:47 AM   Subscribe

For you: Amazing video of indoor precision musically choreographed aerobatic RC airplane flying. (From YouTube, of course.)
posted by loquacious (50 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Very enjoyable for no apparent reason. Thanks.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 2:00 AM on May 30, 2006


I couldn't hear the music, but the skill of the operator is obvious. I was just waiting and waiting for that thing miss a turn and crash.
posted by bigmusic at 2:11 AM on May 30, 2006


The next Olympic sport.
posted by ryoshu at 2:25 AM on May 30, 2006


"From YouTube, of course."

Argh. I hate these comments. It's *at* YouTube, not *from* YouTube - and since when was crediting the webhost of any interest?. mathowie's MacBook Star Wars kid video was never "from YouTube", it was from mathowie. Why is the source of something only cool if it's an A-list blogger or celebrity with geek-cred? If it's not, why is whichever content provider-of-moment which happens to host the material take precedence?

The number of times I've seen cool stuff credited only to "a Flickr user"... winds me up.

This video, for lack of his/her real name, is by rmfinch95616, and though I don't know the guy, I am certain it won't be the only worthwhile thing s/he ever does. A little googling seems to indicate s/he likes his/her planes.
posted by nthdegx at 2:55 AM on May 30, 2006


That was awesome.
posted by Optamystic at 3:28 AM on May 30, 2006


That's just whining about semantics, nthdegx; relax. Since we can't prove anything without the submitter saying something, it's possible that in some people's minds the thing is coming to you from YouTube, though it may still be in YouTube, for instance. I personally might say that I found something from YouTube, rather than in it, because I couldn't personally be in it.

If you can't handle it, you might get out of the internets. You'll find lots of altered English here.
posted by taursir at 3:31 AM on May 30, 2006


"That's just whining about semantics, nthdegx"

No, it's whining about credit where it is due rather than where it isn't. Don't get hung up over the at/from business because that wasn't really my point. You read my whole comment, I take it? It doesn't sound like you have. Any way, it wasn't meant as a derail. I'm glad this was posted.
posted by nthdegx at 3:38 AM on May 30, 2006


nthdegx - did you really just type out that many words because the post contained "from youtube"? Think about that for a minute.

Also, the video was rad. Were the yellow tails supposed to come off? I can't see why he'd want them off, but for both to fall off at the same time seems intentional. In anycase, im impressed. I bet he had to smack the nose of his plane into the merciless grass at his local park many times before he got that good.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 3:45 AM on May 30, 2006


nthdegx.... Im pretty sure it was just a heads up for folks who dislike youtube link posts... or generally a heads up that its a youtube link.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 3:49 AM on May 30, 2006


Attempting to rerail, does anyone know what kind of plane that was?

I've been thinking about getting an R/C plane for purposes of expressing my inner boy, but I've assumed that the engine noise would be annoying. The last thing I want to do is become that asshat at the public park with the screaming noise polluter. But that plane was very quiet -- you can only make out the engine whine at the very end when the music stops.

Besides noise, my other criteria has been "can survive a typical nose-first impact without damage" which I would think rules out nose-prop planes. True?
posted by intermod at 4:12 AM on May 30, 2006


Intermod and others, the plane you saw used an electric motor and rechargeable batteries. These can now fly for up to 10 minutes at a time, some RC electric planes will fit in the palm of your hand. Google RC+Electric+Plane, for instance.
posted by Runcible Spoon at 4:18 AM on May 30, 2006


I've seen some recommendations for the Air Hogs RC planes in the Penny Arcade forums (which seem to be down at the moment).

Cool video. I'd love to have an RC plane/chopper/disc I could hassle the rabbits with!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:33 AM on May 30, 2006


Somewhere, right now, there is a military contractor drooling over this. Amazing what you can do with no pilot to feel the Gs and such a high ratio of lift versus weight. And such excellent control too. Great clip!
posted by furtive at 4:36 AM on May 30, 2006


Tryptophan-5ht - had Kottke made the video the word youtube would have been much less likely to appear in the post. Think about that for a minute.
posted by nthdegx at 4:37 AM on May 30, 2006


I've got a trainer model that I've been playing with here and there. When I first started flying it I was getting pretty short flying times, but as I learned to not fly full throttle all the time I think I can get up to 20-25 minutes on a charge.

The Commander II

If you've never flown before and don't have anyone to teach you and want a cheap way to see if you really will like it this is perfect. I've crashed it many times and the damage that happens is usually a nick taken out of the wings from the prop. I have added a hacksaw blade as a spar to strengthen the wings and when a new nick appears I slap some tape to reform the surface. Of course these are temporary as it's getting close to time to buy a new wing (<15 bucks).

On the matter of aerosemantics, it's not a high lift to weight ratio, it's a high thrust to weight ratio. Sorry, couldn't resist =P
posted by Phantomx at 4:53 AM on May 30, 2006


I meant to add the Commander II isn't that loud at all since the motor doesn't make any audible noise in flight, it's all from the propellor, which isn't that much at all. The Commander isn't really good for expanding on, once you 'outgrow' it then you pretty much are starting from scratch, but you can do it informed and with the basic feel of flying.
posted by Phantomx at 4:55 AM on May 30, 2006


nthdegx: Verbing weirds language. And Kottke gets a million hits for thinking he invented a new way of making popcorn in a microwave. Get thine own bad self over it already.

Furtive: Hell, man, screw the pilotless military applications. I want a shrinking machine so I can take a ride on that thing. Holy crap.

The plane that guy is using is probably a highly customized foam and paper laminate airframe with those new-fangled Lithium Polymer batteries that pack so much juice and amps in tiny, lightweight little foil envelopes. They're expensive, and I hear that it's not too uncommon for them to leak or rupture due to the off-spec uses, discharge rates and battery stacking they do in the hobby world.

So, yeah, seriously huge thrust-weight ratios. Lots of lift surface, control surfaces the size of Kansas wheat fields.

For fuck's sake, the guy was doing barrel rolls 2 feet off the deck, so low the wingtips were just barely missing the ground and the plane was dragging the wingtip streamers. I can't even imagine what kind of ground effect disturbances he's fighting when he's doing that kind of stuff. I'm not even going to get into the sheer insanity of actually doing pivots on the wingtips off of the ground, nor that perfectly balanced prop hover and tailstall on his palm at the end of the video.

I've watched the video a dozen-odd times now and there's all kinds of quick little subtle moves and tricks I didn't quite catch the first time around. Those razor-crisp knife-edge runs with snap turns are amazing, and there's a few super-slow hammerhead stalls and Immelmans and stuff that would be pretty mindblowing on any fixed wing aircraft be it big, small, or obscenely overpowered bleeding-edge military dogfighter.

Granted, there's not a whole lot of speed in his routine, and some of the moves are a bit loose, but that's probably about a 3-4 foot wingspan plane flying and orbiting most of the useable airspace in a low-ceilinged single-court basketball gym.
posted by loquacious at 5:01 AM on May 30, 2006


So these stunts are impossible in a real plane, right? I mean, there isn't a plane on earth, military or otherwise, that can float vertically like a helicopter, correct? Any real plane would stall when pegged going vertically due to the nature of gas engines?

I'm curious if the things this guy was doing could ever be possible on a 1:1 scale -- that maybe his plane has an impossible combination of powerful engine, lightweight plane, and lack of gasoline limitations that could never work on a full scale.
posted by mathowie at 5:07 AM on May 30, 2006


Lovely stuff.
You may also like this R/C helicopter. Astonishing agility.

Note I uploaded it to youTube from http://www.abum.com/show/933/177778110.wmv because:
1) wmv files may not play for some users.
2) The original location is NSFW.
3) I wanted you to see it.
YouTube elegantly avoids the first two issues. Hopefully this is not counted as a self link?

posted by econous at 5:07 AM on May 30, 2006


But... did anyone notice the gorilla walking across the screen?
posted by strawberryviagra at 5:18 AM on May 30, 2006


Whoa. I had to stop watching the helicopter demo. That was freaking me out. That's some sick, sick skillz. I think I need to go lie down for a bit.
posted by BeerFilter at 5:30 AM on May 30, 2006


Thanks for the link, econous - I've almost posted that one as a front page post, but couldn't find a good source or copy, and this plane one just grabbed me as being more poetic.

Yeah, that Alan Szabo guy is a total freak, too. I've actually seen him practicing in a park once, crazy stuff. It was kind of scary having this flying death-mower buzzing all around like some kind of giant berzerker mosquito. Those gas helicopters are way loud. I've seen this video before, but the one I saw had some lame Nickleback/Korn corporate jock-rock soundtrack embedded over it and I couldn't hear the engine and prop noises.

Matt: I'm not an aeronautical engineer, but my brother and my dad and I used to spend a whole lot of time building paper/balsa planes. Indoor/outdoor freeflight gliders, thermal gliders, paper models, etc.

Almost if not all of the stunts done on the indoor flying video can be done by a real plane, even the prop-hovers. Kinda. Just not so severe and vigorous.

And big planes don't really like doing prop hovers. There's a lot more rotational torque going on and a lot more mass and weight and even engine vibration, and they tend to go into a spin earlier. (Which is why single-rotor 'copters have tail rotors, fans or jets. They'd just spin from the rotor/engine torque.)

But that lightweight RC plane (and the Szabo copter) pushes the limits by what I can only assume are gross misproportions of power and surface area vs mass and weight.

Also, something a lot of hobbyists and researchers in microflight have been dealing with is subtle differences in aerodynamics, how air becomes "thicker" as aircraft weights and sizes drop lower and lower. Subtle convection currents in an apparently still-air room become micro-sized downdrafts or updrafts. Even the heat rising from a lamp or human creates rising thermal convections that are quite noticable to a tiny aircraft weighing just a few grams.

That and the pilot isn't actually beholden to the situational awareness issues of having to deal with all those g-forces and spatial confusion.

Which would make it a hell of a ride, that's for sure.
posted by loquacious at 5:33 AM on May 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


Do light planes like that work well out of doors? I'd imagine that even a slight breeze would make it difficult to control.

Must... resist... buying... more... toys...
posted by SteveInMaine at 6:22 AM on May 30, 2006


An RC enthusiast friend of mine says that the plane in that video probably weighs all of eight ounces.
posted by mrbill at 6:27 AM on May 30, 2006


I want a shrinking machine so I can take a ride on that thing. Holy crap.

You're talking about some sort of... debigulator?
posted by jonson at 6:30 AM on May 30, 2006


So these stunts are impossible in a real plane, right? I mean, there isn't a plane on earth, military or otherwise, that can float vertically like a helicopter, correct? Any real plane would stall when pegged going vertically due to the nature of gas engines?

Military planes can do this. I was at the Andrews Air Force Base flight show last weekend, and the new Joint Strike Fighter did exactly that. The pilot went into a slow vertical climb and then stopped all vertical and horizontal motion, hovering vertically on the engines. He then flipped it horizontally and flew away.
posted by jsonic at 6:44 AM on May 30, 2006


Yeah, but the JSF has an obscene amount of thrust and thrust vectoring besides. It's also a VTOL/VSTOL capable aircraft designed to replace the infamous Harrier.

The closest I've seen a military jet come to a tail-stand before was some of the later MIGs (also with thrust vectoring) and the F-16 (obscene thrust) where they did super low speed "flybys" and it would cruise by almost on its tail, nearly stalling.
posted by loquacious at 6:54 AM on May 30, 2006


Amazing flying, but.....the Austin Powers song? Really?
posted by quite unimportant at 6:58 AM on May 30, 2006


I don't know much about planes, but I've seen Fleet Week here in San Francisco. They had a stunt biplane that would fly up into stalls and then fall out, but I don't think he could just hover in place like that, let alone start to climb from a complete stall.

I've seen the F-16s do the tail-stand that Loquacious is talking about too. Not sure if there's any reason they couldn't just sit still. And they can definitely thrust up out of it when they're done (as opposed to falling out of a stall sideways, like the biplane.)

Neat video.
posted by zekinskia at 7:22 AM on May 30, 2006


The only Air Hog you want is the Aero Ace. Don't accept any substitutes. It's $30 at Toys R Us. It doesn't have control surfaces so it turns by differential power to the props.

It won't do what the plane in the video does but it's a complete blast. (The plane in the video probably costs 10x, has control surfaces & even variable pitch props.) If the Aero Ace was any lighter it'd be even harder to fly outdoors. As it is it's most fun in dead still air. However it can be fun in the breeze if you've got some room, you can't control it as reliably but you can sort of surf & "play" with the wind.

I've taken it to the park several times & it attracts kids like nobody's business. Fortunately it's very sturdy. Crashes basically don't hurt it. The only problem with sharing is that it only flies for about 10 minutes so you start to think about finding parks where there are no kids. Maybe that one with all the needles...
posted by Wood at 8:11 AM on May 30, 2006


"I said hop in.....*click*"
posted by TwoWordReview at 8:41 AM on May 30, 2006


loquacious, That was visual poetry, an exquisite aeronautic ballet to the tune of Austin Powers. Way cool.

I loved flying balsa planes as a kid with my dad too. :) He was also brilliant at making and flying kites.

From a quick Google, Ralph Finch is the man who flew that plane, a Californian senior engineer with a lot of aviation knowledge.
posted by nickyskye at 8:54 AM on May 30, 2006


Just superb. Thanks Loquacious.
posted by Skygazer at 9:06 AM on May 30, 2006


I verbed a noun? My bad

In conclusion, let's hear it for Ralph Finch! Woo! Excellent performance.
posted by nthdegx at 9:15 AM on May 30, 2006


A clarification. More Googling and I found it's Ralph Finch who posted the video to YouTube but the person who flew the plane is from Belgium, Benoit Dierickx. Here is a close-up of his magic plane.
posted by nickyskye at 9:40 AM on May 30, 2006


O_o Bugger.
posted by nthdegx at 9:41 AM on May 30, 2006


Better credit details from another YouTube video.
posted by nickyskye at 9:46 AM on May 30, 2006


Super cool.

And as to whether or not a real aircraft could do these stunts, there isn't any significant reason that a full sized version couldn't be built, but as loquacious suggested, because of G forces and the lack of situational awareness, it would be unflyable. (from inside, natch).
posted by quin at 9:56 AM on May 30, 2006


That plane is what they call a "3-D" electric. Foam board fuse and wings with huge control surfaces. Brushless motor and lithium-polymer battery pack.

The wings dont even have any real airfoil, the thrust to weight ratio is just so insane it just pulls itself around. They even have propellers that can change pitch and fly the plane backwards!

Here's a whole combo for $619.
posted by belling at 10:17 AM on May 30, 2006


For every hobby there is a forum.
posted by SteveInMaine at 10:52 AM on May 30, 2006


Thanks phantomx for the HobbyZone Commander II pointer, I'll probably get me one of those to learn with. When I'd looked before I'd been staying away from nose prop airplanes because I assumed I want something with a foam nose, but apparently these things can survive crash landings even with the prop out front.

The Air Hogs site (thanks Wood) is nearly unusable in Mozilla. Must be an IE-only thing. Plus the home page has audio and video that I can't stop or mute. Looks like HobbyZone gets my business :)
posted by intermod at 12:18 PM on May 30, 2006


Funny, Intermod, I spent the morning reading up and just went to Toys R Us and bought an Air Hog (the Aero Ace mentioned above). At 30 bucks, how wrong can you go? Skip the Air Hog site and read the forum posted above on the Aero Ace. People seem to love it.
posted by The Bellman at 1:58 PM on May 30, 2006


http://videosift.com/story.php?id=2151
posted by parallax7d at 2:51 PM on May 30, 2006


parallax7d: That's the Sukhoi Su-30, MKI variant, I believe.

Thrust vectoring makes those stalls and even backslides possible, and more importantly, controllable and recoverable - but note even that plane can't hold a tailstand steady.
posted by loquacious at 5:02 PM on May 30, 2006


http://www.videosift.com/story.php?id=2908

(Amazing RC Helicopter)
posted by Skygazer at 8:25 PM on May 30, 2006


Oops. Amazing RC Helicopter
posted by Skygazer at 8:51 PM on May 30, 2006


Austin Powers?!? That's "Soul of Bossa Nova" by Quincy Jones. (Yes I know it's the theme song, but still)
posted by RustyBrooks at 9:35 PM on May 30, 2006


intermod, the commander has a prop that sits above the tail boom to the rear of the fuselage. The front of the plane is kind of a blunt nose. The most damage that occurs when I fly is from the wing twisting on impact and getting a chunk taken out from the prop. But like I said, for quite a while you can just throw a piece of tape over the hole to maintain the flow and it'll work just fine. Good luck flying!
posted by Phantomx at 3:24 AM on May 31, 2006


Can someone please explain how this thing flys upside down?

Is he actually flipping it upside down and reversing the direction the rotor blades are spinning?
posted by Skygazer at 9:15 AM on May 31, 2006


Skygazer: Rotor Pitch.
posted by econous at 9:41 AM on May 31, 2006


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