Eye in the sky
People watching the parade of tractors or visiting Ag Day during the Washington 175th Anniversary Celebration may have noticed a slight buzzing sound in the background, or seen a small object in the sky hovering over the tractors.
Not far away would have been Tim Woltering, who busied himself recording the events of the celebration of agriculture. Using the remote control with his Smartphone attached providing first-person viewing (FPV), he flew the remote-controlled aircraft with the 14 megapixels video recorder over the line of tractors. Many of the tractor pilots knew Woltering and smiled or waved to the tiny camera on the bottom of the aerial camera system. Using the quadcopter, Woltering was able to capture images of the event from multiple angles, including overhead.
“Airplanes and flight – I have always had a fascination of it,” he said
Now the prize of his remote control vehicle collection, Woltering first saw the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Quadcopter at his favorite hobby store in West Des Moines. After examining it in the box, he spent the next couple of months doing research on the Internet. He came to the conclusion that he had to have one. He said that he had paid $1,199 plus tax. He also got a spare battery for the vehicle.
In addition to the camera, the four-bladed platform contains an on-board lithium ion battery that allows for up to 25 minutes of flight time. Information such as distance, altitude and battery consumption is transmitted back to the controller’s Smartphone. The phone is also used to take still pictures and to start and stop video. He said that the proper name for the vehicle is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). He prefers if people don’t call it a “drone.”
“’Drone’ seems to have a negative connotation,” he said. “One thing that bothers me sometimes is people’s terminology when they call it a drone. To me a drone is governmental. Someone from an office in the Pentagon comes to work in the morning and they get behind their computer where they have a joystick and they fly an airplane 10,000 miles away.”
Woltering said that he began flying remote control vehicles about 25 years ago as a way of keeping his hand in the flying field. As a boy, he recalls his uncle Omer Woltering flying out from Bloomfield in his private plane and landing in Woltering’s father’s hay field. Woltering and his brothers would sometimes fly with him to Bloomfield for a mini-vacation before being flown back.
With the love of flight, he eventually was drawn into the world of remote control piloting. He began flying helicopters. At this time, he has about 12 remote control aircraft.
“They are great for family time,” he said. “My grandsons just absolutely love to come and watch me fly. Hopefully someday they will take the interest in it and I can give them to them and let them crash them.”
He said that getting remote control aircraft to take off is easy, but landing them is the hard part. He said with a chuckle that he has crashed many. Part of the hobby, he said, is learning the skill to put the remote control aircraft back together and make them fly again.
When flying the Phantom 2, he prefers never to let it get out of his line of sight. While the camera offers 140 degrees of vision, he said that he prefers view the flight path, having learned that way. He said there are obstructions such as power lines the vehicle could get tangled in.
Woltering said that the Phantom 2 could actually fly room by room through a building or it can climb up to the legal height of 400 feet. He said that the control would work out to 500 meters, indicating it has the capability to fly 500 meters up.
“You wouldn’t be able to see it,” he said. “It would just be a speck.”
Woltering said that he plans to use the Phantom 2 as part of his tree service, offering clients a bird’s-eye view of their trees before trimming. He also believes it can be used to aid gas and electric companies. He also said that he plans to do some videos of the Keota Fun Days parade this Saturday.