My wonderful wife gave me a GoPro camera for my birthday a couple of years ago. For those of you who haven’t seen one, this is a very small digital camera that is easy to use. It has a fixed focal length fish-eye lens and can record pictures or movies. It comes with a watertight cover which is designed to be easily mounted almost anywhere. I’ve used mine to take pictures of the grandkids playing in the surf, tropical fish while snorkeling in Mexico, and even one shot that made it onto the cover of Soaring Magazine. I’m thrilled with the photos I can take with the GoPro, but the movies are even more amazing. We even captured an inflight video of Kelly Sample one Wednesday evening when John proposed to her with a hand held radio. The social networking generation has grabbed these cameras, taken amazing video, edited the footage and set them to music. Youtube is bursting at the seams with self-produced videos of all kinds of amazing outdoor activities. Our young PGC members are keeping up with the best. Check out the video Clay King posted on our web site at http://youtu.be/Su4GoSRFEdQ. We’d love to post more videos! Think how we can use videos like this to attract people to PGC to buy Orientation Flights, or to join the club and learn to fly.
Some of our young students are mounting their cameras in the cockpit or wearing them on their heads during their flight lessons. This is a wonderful training aid that allows them to review their entire flight. It is impressive how quickly these students are learning to fly. I hope we can build a library of of flight maneuver demonstrations so our students can be introduced to a flight lesson before they even leave the ground. Wouldn’t it be great to see your first “box the wake” from the comfort of your lounge chair instead of the cockpit? But of course every new technology presents its own challenges along with its opportunities. A camera that is turned on and then forgotten for the duration of the flight does not present a problem, but a pilot who is actively using his camera is dividing his attention. Some glider operations have seen real safety problems associated with cameras. In order to maintain a sterile cockpit, Estrella and several other glider operations strictly ban all cameras from the cockpit. When a PGC student is flying with an instructor, we can make sure that the student is concentrating on flight safety and collision avoidance. My concern is that one of our young Steven Spielbergs may find the camera too much of a temptation when they are flying alone. A student who is trying to make the coolest movie of his solo flight could lose perspective, become distracted, or push the limits trying to frame the perfect shot. That’s why I am announcing a new PGC policy – We will not permit cameras in or on the glider during student solo flights. Take all of the pictures and movies you want after the landing. Capture the soaking! But before and during the flight, our solo pilots need to be focused on the task at hand. Safe Flying, Phil Klauder