First-Person View (FPV)

Since 2008, first-person view flying, or FPV, has revolutionized the radio control hobby. By definition, it is a method used to control an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or radio-controlled vehicle from the driver or pilot’s perspective. Instead of standing on the ground and looking up at a model aircraft, FPV allows pilots to essentially man the aircraft from the onboard, cockpit view, as if they were sitting in the aircraft themselves. The vehicle is either driven or piloted remotely from a first-person view via an onboard camera, fed wirelessly to video goggles or a video monitor.

A live FPV system makes precise aerial photography and videography possible. Many amateurs and professional FPV users utilize DJI quadrocopters and hexacopters to take breathtaking aerial photographs and footage, which cannot be obtained in any other way.

Any model aircraft or remote-controlled vehicle can be modified for FPV. The two common types are:

  • 1. Fixed Wing Aircraft; and
  • 2. Multirotors

Fixed Wing
Fixed wing airframes are medium-sized planes with space for video equipment and large wings, capable of supporting extra weight. It allows for “prop free” imaging on either the live video feed or the High Definition recording. Examples include: Multiplex EasyStar, Skyhunter 1800, Skywalker 1680. This FPV type is common with UAV pilots as they provide large wing surface area, speed, maneuverability and gliding ability.

Multicopters, or quadcopters, function as agile camera platforms, capable of filming high quality video while hovering and maneuvering in tight spaces. It has made FPV flying more accessible to a wider audience, too. FPV have grown in popularity with UAV pilots and are often seen on DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter, DJI S900 hexacopter and more.

The ability of FPV aircraft to fly far beyond the visual range of the pilot and at significant altitudes has raised safety concerns regarding collisions with manned aircraft or danger to people and property on the ground — causing some national aviation authorities to ban FPV flying. FPV have a higher risk of crashing at a high distance; however, because they’re typically constructed from light foam based materials, they pose a much smaller risk with manned aircraft.

The use of additional systems such as On Screen Displays with FPV systems makes for a safer and easier flight, allowing pilots to see their take-off and home position better.