Tour New York City With A Toy Plane

We've certainly seen aerial views of cities before, but there's something particularly wonderful about this one: The video was shot using a camera attached to a remote-controlled airplane which was flown around New York City. [Matt Haughey via Laughing Squid]

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I built a small RC plane in Israel when I was younger. It was a big hobby for a lot of kids there, and being a huge plane fanatic I had to try it out.

I bought the standard beginner's plane called the "Banana" (it has bright yellow wings) and built the wooden fuselage as carefully as I could. Then you make the awesome ribbed wing structure and heat-shrink a plastic wrap over it (really tedious but cool process).

Then the servos, gas-engine, and radio antennas were added, which taught me a lot about small electrical work and some basic motor mechanics. I loved the smell of all the glue, oil and fuel.

My first flight was a minute of terror, followed by a minute of bliss, followed by complete disaster. Starting the engine is SCARY. If you don't have a starter tool you have to wind the prop with your finger. That thing is powerful enough to chop your finger off. One of the guys helping me out had a really nasty scar from a cut to the bone starting a plane a few years earlier.

My Banana had to be hand launched, and that was nerve-wracking as well since you immediately need to recover from any roll. Once I was up it was amazing. The feeling of control is fantastic (even without FPV glasses!) but hard to figure out when you have to remember that pushing right will roll the plane to your left if it is flying towards you. The control unit is a gadget lovers dream, with all kinds of knobs and slides that satisfyingly click or spring back when you move them.

Then the disaster. A large gust of wind blew in and put my plane into a flat spin (Oh no, Goose! actually went through my head since I had recently seen Top Gun for the first time) and it went down in a farmer's crop field. I spent two hours looking for it with no success until a random bedouin kid ran up excitedly holding a piece of the Banana and brought me over to the rest of the debris. I gave him what little was left of my allowance in thanks.

I have since rebuilt it, but haven't flown it much. Now it hangs in my old room at my parent's house above my old bed, in far better form than with me behind the stick, bright yellow as ever.