Soapbox: Daring FPV Videos

September 15, 2011 8:06 | By | Add a Comment

In early 2011, an Austrian FPV pilot nicknamed “Trappy” went to New York with his FPV foam wing and recorded a stunning video of his flight:


Since then, a number of organizations and individuals have stepped up and complained about the reckless and irresponsible behaviour. The AMA issued a statement that this flight violated the AMA safety code (which is a code of conduct that applies to AMA members, which Trappy is not). Some local politicians issued statements that the person should be locked up. Legal experts called for new legislation, while noting that they can’t prosecute because no felony was committed. Even german magazines like denounced the flight and issued a statement calling for new, stricter laws while denouncing the action as not having anything to do with RC flying anymore.

This is a soapbox column, so here goes my opinion:

We are talking about a piece of foam. It doesn’t matter that there’s a camera on it and a propeller on the back. At the end of the day, the worst thing that could happen is a piece of foam hitting someone. Would that be pleasant? Certainly not. But it would take one hell of a dive and a direct hit to produce injuries. Possible, but very unlikely. The AMA suggests that buildings have been endangered. Buildings! By a piece of foam! Worst of all, many of the people complaining first point out that such reckless behavior could bring about stricter laws – and then they ask for stricter laws themselves, sometimes in the same sentence. “People like you are gonna be the reason for stricter laws (…) – this should be forbidden, we need stricter laws!”

Another issue that is being brought up is that RC planes could be misused in a terrorist attack. Sure, that’s actually a very real issue, albeit a far fetched one – it’s still far easier to drive a bomb in a car, doing special stunts with RC planes is too complex and has too little yield to be practical for would-be terrorists. In the end the issue is not the real threat, but the fear itself. And apparently a good number of people have problems gauging the threat level of styrofoam. And at this point I think it’s no secret that RC planes exist, so saying that this could inspire terrorist attacks is, mildly put, an exaggeration.

There’s a distinct difference between this stunt and, say, flying in the middle of a crowded plaza with a 450-size helicopter. Any mistake would mean severe injuries of bystanders. Interestingly enough, when videos like this one here appear there is no public outcry:



I don’t want to see what would happen if these rotor blades were to hit someone. This is a stupid stunt.

Bottom line: Don’t fly irresponsibly, and don’t listen to the people calling for stricter laws just to get a brief press coverage. Was it a bright idea of Trappy to fly in New York? No, certainly not. But let’s face it, most people are extremely worked up because this was New York – what with 9/11 and all that. It’s still just a piece of EPP foam, get over it.

And don’t fly helicopters over crowds, unlike foam wings, they can really kill someone.



Category: Videos

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