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Old May 14th, 2003, 06:51 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Clifton, NJ
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A plane's point of view.

I'm into aviation and I'd like to get the airplanes point of view on takeoffs and landings and various other maneuvers. As in mounting a lens/camera outside the cockpit: on top of the engine, on the tail, on the wingtip, under the fuselage, etc. How does one do that?

And what about inside the cockpit? Bulky cameras are hardly conducive to good angles in cramped quarters.

Any suggestions?

By the way, I don't own my much desired XL1s yet...


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Old May 14th, 2003, 07:12 PM   #2
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Location: Vancouver, BC
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Duct tape. Lots of duct tape ;)

Seriously though, I know they make special camera mounts for cars, so I would guess that there are the same types of things for planes. The best cameras for that would definitely be smaller, consumer cams like a Canon ZR70, firstly because of the weight and size, and secondly so you don't have a nervous breakdown seeing your XL1 thousands of feet up in the air!

I would love to see some of your footage if you manage to get a good mount, I think it would be really interesting!
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Old May 15th, 2003, 03:04 AM   #3
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I would not mount it without a special device for this kind of work.
You wouldn't want your XL1 to fall off. Besides the wind will be
strong high in the air flying at fast speeds etc...

Rob Lohman, visuar@iname.com
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Old May 15th, 2003, 04:02 AM   #4
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Location: Honolulu, HI
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You can get some great shots with setups like that. But there are some very serious things to think about. I have a pilot's license and used to fly so here's some considerations:

You need to mount anything with the understanding that if it comes loose it will end up falling where it'll cause some serious damage. Even a small camera can smash someones' skull if it falls off even a low-flying plane.

A good place to mount a camera is on the wing strut of a Cessna. You'll need to build a custom mount that will fit on the curved surface, then secure it with several heavy duty zip ties that are cinched up very, very tight. Lots of vibration on light aircraft.

Don't use duct tape on a flat surface. It'll eventually peel off. Airplane exteriors can be slightly oily and adhesives may not stick properly. Duct tape might work OK if you use several wraps of duct tape around something like a wing strut. I doubt it'll come off on its own even if the plane slams into a mountain.

Some aircraft can tolerate a bit of assymetrical drag. Some can't. The farther out you locate it on the wing, the greater the effect of that drag. And at aircraft speeds, induced drag isn't insignificant. The speed brakes on a Mooney is about the size of a paperback novel. And that's enough to give it a significantly steeper descent.

Flying to a volcano in Hawaii a photographer in the front seat of a helicopter flying at 120 knots stuck his arm out the window to point at something. His hand ended up hitting the door frame as he didn't expect how much force the slipstream had (we always fly with the doors off).

You should consider housing your camera since the wind pressure will find its way into every tiny crack and fissure, possibly disturbing the tape mechanism and fouling up your recording. Ideally, the housing would be aerodynamic with a football shape being ideal.

If you're running cables, they have to be absolutely well secured. Anything loose might get fouled up in the controls or beat itself against the airframe, and the skin of light aircraft is very thin. A photographer left a seat belt buckle unsecured and flapping outside a Hughes 500 helicopter. The buckle ended up punching a hole through the skin. The repair cost several thousand bucks!

If you can, consult with an airframe/powerplant mechanic. The pilot might say OK but you really need to talk to a certified mechanic to make sure everything is set up and secured exactly right. Always keep in mind that aircraft accidents are seldom minor.

There are scores of reports of aviation fatalities which started off as seemingly minor problems.

Whatever you rig, take your time and check it thoroughly.

Good luck!
Dean Sensui
Base Two Productions
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Old May 15th, 2003, 10:24 PM   #5
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Vallejo, California
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FAA regulations will not allow you to place anything on the outside of an aircraft without a Supplemental Type Certificate for the attachment. The penalties for doing so, if you get caught are rather stiff IIRC. At the least they will suspend your ticket for a while.

And if it falls off and damages something or someone, you can bend over and kiss your anatomy and checkbook goodby.

Use duct tape and peel the paint off the aircraft and you'll be looking at an expensive paint repair job!
Mike Rehmus
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Old May 16th, 2003, 03:25 PM   #6
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Kansas City, MO
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That is 100 percent correct--FAA regulations are, with good reason, very strict on this issue, and I doubt you could find a pilot who would allow anything to be stuck onto the outside of the plane. If it's for professional use, you can hire a plane that has been outfitted for photography in N.Y. or L.A., and sometimes they are available in other smaller cities, usually in the yellow pages under aerial photography.
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