GoPro on the Wing Tip
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Monday, April 18, 2016
By Kevin Manning

Flying over the James River adjacent to the Shirley Plantation I was testing a wing mounted GoPro Hero 3+ controlled by my iPhone.  The GoPro App allowed me to compose and trigger the camera through the app.  It is quick enough response wise that it allowed me to place the shadow of the plane along the speeding boat below.  Very handy.  I could also switch between burst mode, video and still photo modes. The only glitch was when passing a freighter, the screen blacked out and there was no control.  Don Maxwell, the pilot, thought that it might be the ship's radar, and I do believe his hypothesis was correct.  Don uses several GoPros, mounted inside and running continuously as a sort of flight recorder in case of any FAA entanglement and to diagnose any problems or tactical errors. He did not like my camera angle, as he felt it distorted the plane.  I planned on using the lens correction feature of Lightroom to get rid of the the curvilinear distortion, which I did in the above photo. The GoPro App also allowed me to see what the camera was seeing for accurate positioning of the mount.  The photo below is uncorrected, made over the Appomattox River near its mouth on the James River at City Point, in Hopewell, Va.  There are advantages to each.  In a bank the plane shows a bit more scenery in a dramatic manner and the curve of the earth is charming, rather than annoying. This particular GoPro i have crashed repeatedly on my Phantom FC-40 drone, used as a hockey puck, lost in the James River overnight, all without a scratch.  The only damage to it is when I used it on a 3DR drone without the underwater housing and it crashed and ripped out the HDMI port. I call it my lucky GoPro, not only for its longevity and surviveability but also because it always takes great pictures.

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Don Maxwell - Excellent shots, Kev. The GoPro got a selfie in the second one.