A Remote-Controlled Plane Flies Through New York City

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I would imagine that New Yorkers would be a little concerned about any unusual aircraft zipping around their airspace. So it is particularly remarkable that a team managed to assemble a remote-controlled miniature airplane, equip it with a camera, and fly it around various parts of the city, including parts of Manhattan, over the top of the Brooklyn Bridge, over the Statue of Liberty, and so on -- without getting arrested or having their aircraft taken down. Here's the video:

According to various bloggers, this flight is legal as long as it remains below either 400 or 500 feet (one blogger says 400, the video's uploader claims 500). Any pilots in the audience want to educate us on the legality of private flights in New York City?

This is one of those rare YouTube videos where the comment thread is interesting. A pilot actually weighs in on the potential danger caused by the flight, if it were to intercept a commercial flight path (remote-controlled bird strike, anybody?). Some key comments:

"...we have GPS on board and know the altitude at all times. additionally a person on the ground informs us of incoming traffic. we never exceeded 500 ft and never gotten within a mile of a private or commercial aircraft.? the altitude in the video looks much higher than it really is due to the wider field of view of our camera." -nastycop420 (video uploader)

"Excellent work! I appreciate the time, effort, and coordination that went into this. When I taught RF in college, I had my students build a UAV w/FPV as a class project. There were no? spread-spectrum RC radios back then, so we digitized the trainer-cord output of a Futaba tx and rolled our own spread-spectrum control link. We used ATV for the video link. System range was ~15 miles (air) and ~3.5 miles (ground). Was the most popular project we ever did.
Again, I applaud your efforts!
Joel" -MrTurboparker

"I'm flying! Nice? vid bro!" -britanese (Okay, not ALL the comments add to the dialogue.)

Some sample heights achieved in the video: Brooklyn Bridge (276.5 feet), Statue of Liberty (305 feet), Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (693 feet...higher than the creators claimed to have ever flown on this outing). Wow. More video from the same group after the jump.

Downhill Flight from RiSCyD : TeamBlackSheep on Vimeo.

Chicken or Black Sheep - Episode 2 from RiSCyD : TeamBlackSheep on Vimeo.

For more on the vehicle, check out this forum post. Apparently its maximum altitude is over 3,000 meters! Oh, and the official name for this hobby is "FPV RC" (First Person Video, Remote-Controlled) in case you want to go a-Googlin'.

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December 6, 2010 - 6:40am
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