Cube FPV

What is FPV?

FPV stands for “First Person View”. The pilot wears a set of specially designed goggles which connect to a camera in the drone or model aircraft. In this style of flying the operator “pilot” controls the drone remotely by seeing the view directly out the front of the drone. Traditionally in RC, the pilot observed the craft from the ground in the 3rd person view and controlled it via line of sight. But FPV takes away the need to observe the drone from the ground and allows the pilot to fly the drone as if they were along for the ride and actually flying it from the pilot’s seat – so to speak.

No But Really What is it?

Okay so let’s not define FPV by how it’s done and instead talk about how it feels. It’s best described as a feeling of complete freedom of movement through a 3D space. When flying FPV outdoors for example, we can feel what its like to soar like an eagle with a bird’s eye view of the world. Because an FPV drone can release us from the 2D world of the ground, we can observe objects from any perspective as we fly over and around them. FPV is for people who want to experience the total freedom of viewing the world from a completely different perspective. After flying FPV you will never look at a tree the same way again.

Quad vs Airplane – A Matter of Perspective

It’s easy to lump all RC flying craft into one category – as many a regulator has tried to do. So, to truly understand the concept of FPV quads we really need to contrast them to something most people can more easily relate to – the RC plane.  The RC plane is built to be admired by the observer (or pilot) in flight. Often with smooth aerodynamic surfaces, painted and decorated. And to do so, we designate an area as a flying field, clear it to the extremity and make it devoid of trees or any other obstacles which the line of sight pilot may be inclined to run into. It’s a tailored environment designed to give maximum visibility of the craft itself.

But a quad is a very different beast indeed. Nothing much to look at here, being just a construction of carbon, bolts and electronics. It would be hard to say that a quad has any sort of aesthetic appeal in the way that a plane does. But that’s okay, because a quad is all about the view it affords the pilot and observers via the onboard camera. You’re not really fling a quad – you’re flying a camera. The quad exists purely as a tool to augment the camera and provide the view the pilot requests. To put it simply, while the RC Plane exists to be viewed, the FPV quad exists as a viewing platform.

Give Me A View

When quads were first developed there was an assumption that they would live happily alongside model planes at the local flying field. It was indeed a short-lived assumption. FPV pilots with their airborne perspective soon became bored with the baron RC plane flying fields and sought out more fulfilling experiences. They gravitated to flying spots which afforded them the ability to do proximity flying as well as scenic flights. Of course, these days many RC planes are also being setup for FPV and flown at local parks as opposed to flying fields.

Born of a Digital World

Thinking back to my childhood in the late 70s, I remember weekends at the flying field with my father. It was indeed a social event with BBQs smoking, cans of drink and even Christmas events. Fast forward and the present world of FPV is actually more digitally connected than any other hobby and this is all due to one feature – the camera. FPV cameras and other drone mounted cameras have afforded us the ability to share our flight experiences online and therefore build digitally connected communities in ways that other hobbies can not. You can think of FPV as being intrinsically linked to the digital world. While you may build an RC Plane with no more technology than a set of RC gear, no quad is built without being attached to a computer at some stage. The link between quad, computer, electronics, digital media and online community makes the quad a product of a digital world.