First Time FPV Tips (from a noob)
So you've got your FPV gear but feel like a bit of a noob? A bit nervous of the first time pulling on the goggles? Here are a few practical tips about learning to fly basic FPV.
Recently I was, like many people, nervous and hoping I wasnt going to write off all my new FPV stuff. After analysing my video footage from the first flight, I have compiled a few tips and tricks for my next flight I thought I would share for anyone out there in a similar position as me.
By the way, these are just my personal tips, if you're an experienced pilot, you may find these are not all nessisarily tips you would have given, but I find they helped me out and may help someone else out too.
Top Tip 1 - Get your goggles comfortable
This is pretty important for a good experience. If you're using goggles as I do, make sure the eye cups fit nicely over your eyes and your strap is tight to stop the whole lot slipping down your face. I had my goggles decide to slip very slightly so the image went blurry several times during my flight. Make sure its really secure arround your head before flying. Also make sure the battery isnt going to dislodge. This happened to me too. It was rather irritating and I had to take my hands off the controlls several times to be able to see properly. Thankfully my good friend acting as copilot and spotter was able to help me out with these goggle issues, but you really want to be concentrating on flying all the same.
Top Tip 2 - Make sure your FPV aircraft is really well trimmed
Before you go all FPV mode, set up the plane so it handles really well. It may be kind of obvious, but really its very important. The weather can also play an important part in the behavior of a plane, which is what I'm coming up to next.
Top Tip 3 - Make sure you know what the weather is doing
It may look calm, but the weather may be pretty different at various altitudes. I learned this the hard way as I failed to launch successfully several times, nosediving painfully into the ground and not knowing why. Turned out there was a low pressure area in the field I was in because of the wind going over the top of the hill and missing this area. This made it hard to get any lift low dow and it was turbulent higher up . It can be very frustrating if you don't know why your plane isn't flying very well when it was doing perfectly in the same location a day before and everything looks calm. If it is windy in one area near you but calm where you are, be suspicious! Try and pick a sunny bright day too. It's easier to see things when everything isn't just grey and misserable.
My first FPV flight (above) was on a slightly overcast evening. Light levels were low which wasn't ideal as the ground was pretty dark and undetailed through the FPV cam.
Top Tip 4 - Carry some speed to avoid stalling
Looking back at my footage, I noticed I was on the verge of stalling several times through taking it too slow. This was especially concernful as I was flying close to some trees at the time. I had been told to fly low too, so I can recognise landmarks easily, however this combined with painfully slow speeds looked, in hindsight, worryingly like they would end in a crash. Keep the throttle up and only fly arround half the battery to make sure you don't run out of juice. It may be difficult to judge your speed when flying in first person for the first time, but be aware of where the stick is.
Here I was flying slowly up a hill that had low air pressure. A bit silly in hindsight seeing as though this was my first fpv experience. Keep it higher and faster to avoid a catastrophe.
Top Tip 5 - Know your playground
If you listen to the FT podcast a lot like I do, you've probably heard Bixler say this a few times; "Know your playground and fly a pattern". It really helps if you pick out landmarks, be it a house you're near, trees etc, or far off places like a town in the distance. Try flying from one to the other, turning when you get there and flying to another landmark. Do this at a fairly high up altitude and make sure you keep asking your spotter where you are in relation to your body on the ground and where you're heading, even if you think you know. However, you should be able to know roughly where you are in the sky by the sound of the motor onboard the aircraft. Life is good.
You don't have to actually draw a map obviously, but it does help to have a rough idea in your head about where you're going to go and where you're not. Stick to the plan too.
Top Tip 6 - Plan what you're going to do really thoroughly!
Go over in your head what your plan of action will be. What pattern are you going to fly? How long are you going to go FPV for? How long will you fly before pulling on the goggles? Going over and over everything in detail will make sure you don't do anything wrong. Maybe have a mental checklist.
Make sure you don't forget to check all of your systems, not just the FPV video system. Be sure that they are all working as expected before launch. Take your time. Keep calm. Forgetting to do this is quite silly really isn't it, and it's just as important as having your video link solid.
Hopefully you will have found some of this advise helpful. I know it's the sort of thing I needed before I flew FPV for the first time. Apart from all this, good luck, and have a good flight! Relax and enjoy the experience you've been waiting for.
Here is my flight video (before I flew FPV for the first time) from the night I was testing the GoPro; It has more visually apealing footage than my FPV flight so I thought I would share this instead.