Tired Of Fuel Prices? Virtual Flight Gets Real

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

Now you can take a step beyond your desktop flight simulator, and fly an actual remote-control aircraft equipped with a head-movement-synchonized camera and a virtual-reality headset that makes you feel like you're right in the cockpit. At least, you can fly this way if you are willing to spend the time and money tinkering with complicated and delicate gear to make it work. Denis Gratton, of Québec, Canada, has done just that, and has the videos to prove it. (You can watch them online here and here... they are pretty great.) How much does it cost to build a system like this? "It's hard to tell how much it cost, I prefer not to know it," Gratton told AVweb in an e-mail. He says others are starting to join in his hobby, and he expects the costs will come down within a year or so.

Putting the system together is complex, he said. "Transmitting video signal in the air from a moving plane is hard, I will lose the video signal if I don't take care of many things ... the metallic parts on the planes will block the waves, so I replace them. The planes must be reliable. It's a real plane that can hurt someone, so the planes must be safe." Gratton says what is unique about his system is that he doesn't just use the onboard camera to record video, but actually flies the airplane from takeoff to landing with the VR headset. "Perhaps I'm the first to fly like this, so I invented a new way of flying, but I didn't invent new equipment," he said. He took existing components and modified and integrated them into a compact unit. For more info about the system, check out this online discussion and Gratton's Web site.