A Pelican's View of Coquina Beach

Today was a beautiful, warm, sunny Sunday on the OBX. Winds were near completely calm except for a slight easterly breeze. Conditions were perfect for an RC ocean flight, and Coquina Beach near Oregon Inlet/Bodie Island Lighthouse is a great spot. It was my first ocean flight with the SuperCub, and nice practice for upcoming bird's eye view surfing videos. The plan is to fly over the surf zone to capture the surfing action from a pelican's perspective. Should be quite cool, once the water warms enough for comfortable surfing conditions.

I worked out the camera mount and it provides a nice point of view, except for the black lines you will see in the video. They are caused by the propeller passing in front of the camera viewing area. Not sure if I can get around that hurdle, but perhaps I can figure something out. The GoPro is a great camera for the job, since the video is quite good, and the camera housing is near bomb proof! Additionally, the wrist strap grommets on the housing function well for the rubber bands used to attach the camera to the plane.

Enjoy the ride:


At 7:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

awesome pov!...Caleb

At 9:25 PM, Blogger Andy said...

Bill that's amazing! It's tough to get perspective, but it looked like a few passes were really low (10 ft?) and some others really high? Do you pretty much have any range you want?

Really cool!

At 11:23 PM, Blogger Bill said...

Yea, I can get down to inches off the ground or water, though likely if out at the surf break, I would likely go no lower than about 5 to 10 feet. I can climb pretty high...likely well over 1000 ft. I had other video from higher altitude but did not spend too much time cutting the clip. The radio has a range of almost a half mile, so plenty to keep control over the main surf break.

The primary risk is battery life, therefore only a full charge with an early jaunt out to make low passes over the surf zone. High passes once the battery weakens for plenty of altitude to make it back to shore if the engine cuts.

Once I can get some footage with guys in the water and a decent sized wave... that will be interesting! : )

At 12:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

why not point the cam straight down to avoid the prop lines?

At 12:27 PM, Blogger Bill said...

I could point it straight down, however, the perspective is not quite as good. Likely, I will try lowering the camera or moving it further back from its current mounting position. Likely moving it back will work.

Will have it perfected though for capturing that first surf session!

At 3:37 AM, Blogger cammar said...

Dammit, Bill! I don't need no other toys... I got too many already! But now I have to buy one of those things, 'cause that looks way cool... ;-)

Not sure about shooting surfers, though...

If I go to Hookipa in a good day and make that thing fly over the surfers... they're gonna kill me!

Better if it's small and there's only a few friends out...

At 10:34 AM, Blogger Bill said...

Hey GP!

Yea, at Hookipa the surf crew may wonder WTF if they see a little RC plane flying over their heads, but you all have those guys driving small helicopters out there to capture the action from above. : )
Here on the OBX, it will have to be RC planes, unless there is a major on-location film shoot, or Epic Conditions does another OBX segment.

I am also planning to fly a banner from the tail of the plane with the OBX Beach Life web address and a message noting that the guys can see themselves in video online. Hopefully, they will be stoked this summer!

At 3:50 PM, Blogger cammar said...

That's a smart idea. Just make sure the plane never falls on them!!!

Yes, I've seen camera equipped RC helicopters at kite beach. But ultimately the kiters didn't like the idea... that's quite understandable, I'd say.

Just linked your post in my last post.

At 9:17 PM, Blogger PeconicPuffin said...

What is the plane's airspeed with camera mounted...I'm imagining some great shots with the plane flying into the wind for a low ground speed (water speed?) approaching sailors.

At 9:33 AM, Blogger Bill said...

Hey Michael,

The plane flies fairly slow, especially into the wind since it is a trainer plane. Its wing had a lot of low speed lift, therefore if there was some wind, and it is flown directly into the wind, it would near park itself in the air. Only thing is that to film windsurfing, it would have to be 6.0m+ conditions since the plane would be buffeted heavily by stronger wind. I will likely only use it for filming surfing since ideal surf conditions include minimal wind.

That would be a really cool shot though to do a slow approach pass over a windsurfer as they were sailing along!

Once we get some nice chest high+ surf here, and no wind, I am going to try some low passes along the peeling wave which should be quite interesting. Then of course, once the battery dies, paddle out!

At 11:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Bill, what camera are you using for the plane?

At 11:39 PM, Blogger Bill said...

The camera is a GoPro Hero3 mounted in front of the landing gear. I use a piece of water line foam as a stabilizer for the camera and also to add rigidity when strapped in place with two rubber bands.

At 9:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent results and great potential to film water action! Two quick related stories. In the early 90's I used to fly RC at Hatteras.

I was flying an electric trainer near the pond at the Point. A lady pulled up after I landed. She said I had freaked her out at first. When she first saw the plane in the air she thought it was a full size craft augering into the dunes! She was releaved to see it was "just a toy".

On another visit my brother lost his gas powered glider 300 to 400 yards out in the ocean in Avon. With a light offshore breeze and waist high surf I paddled a 9' windsurfer out to get it. Once I got near it I realized the plane had turned into a pelican! Shortly after the pelican took off, I saw the plane. Holding it under my chin, I started back in. Half way back, during a stroke, I got a really solid push off of something! I'd pay $500 to know what it was. I pulled up may legs and arms but with the offshore breeze I couldn't stop stroking long. I got back in with the plane structure intact but all the electronics were destroyed.

Happy landings!

At 2:21 PM, Blogger KYScoast said...

Bill that is amazing! That about completes the RC coverage of the surf zone. A friend of mine in California recently forwarded me a YouTube vid of a scale-sized RC surfer replete with board and in crouched stance killing it in knee-high rights. Looked like classic Sunset Beach. It was self-righting and pulled off barrel rolls, floaters, and crazy lip grinds and roundhouse cutbacks.

Now, not only can you film real surfers, (which I do think is cool), but potentially, you could video RC surfers with your RC aircraft, where the whole surf zone could be a virtual surf video game.

Anyway, have fun with it. Hope to see more video taken from up there. Thanks for puttin' it up for us to see.

At 2:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Nice Blog .Setting the backlight to “always on” will significantly reduce your ipod replacement battery life. Only use the backlight when necessary.

At 8:00 AM, Anonymous Pelican Cases said...

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i just started blogging not that long ago and running across this blog it seemed a bit too interesting to only read the first paragraph. I kinda got confused in the middle of it but the end just made it all go together like a puzzle. Please, who ever wrote this, keep me updated!


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