Michelle Kole’s Epic Spin

Here’s a sample of some of the great footage that we captured with one of the outboard cameras. This is a GoPro HD Hero mounted on the right wing strut of the Super-D and pointed more or less straight at Michelle.

Michelle pulled off a great seven- or eight-turn spin. Nice and stable (you can watch where the horizon intersects the frame). This angle gives a real sense of the world rotating.

Tech Pre-Production Continues

Among may personal quirks, I have a particular way if identifying when an upcoming event is getting pretty darned close. From the bar exam to vacations, to other really important stuff. Yesterday, I came home from the store and put a gallon of milk in the fridge. That gallon of milk will still be good after principal photography for Acro Camp is complete.

Pretty cool, huh?

I spent the morning and early afternoon over at Ray Community Airport with Todd Yuhas of Berz Flight Training crawling all over the Pitts to investigate camera mounts and audio setup. I think we have the camera setup resolved and that the Pitts is good to go. I was a little worried prior to today because a quarter or so of the footage (and – because the introduction of the Pitts will be an escalation point in the film – some of the most important footage) will be in the Pitts and that needs to work. But I think that we have out ducks in a row and are good to go with the airplane.

Todd and I also spent some time walking down the hangar rows talking to people. I got to sit in a Waco that’s in the middle of rebuilding and see other really interesting aircraft. I continue to believe that Ray Community Airport is one of the best airports in the country. It’s everything that the Harper’s Field of my imagination was at the beginning and now Ray actually informs my vision of Harper’s field. It’s just that cool.

So, anyway, with less than 10 days do go, I think that we’re about ready. A couple more test flights to verify technical setups, some hauling of tables and chairs, some icing down of tasty beverages, and lots of other last-minute stuff. But we seem to be getting pretty close to ready. (Whatever “ready” means . . .)

Technical Shakedown Flight with Don

Don and I took the Super D up this afternoon to shake down some of the electronics. First flight for the ContourHD camera outside the cockpit and first use of the new attenuating cable and the new M-Audio MicroTrack II for the digital audio.
We started off by flying some basic acro with me standing in for the camper in the front. Not to dwell, but I sucked as usual for the first time out. 10 minutes of acro and I was done. I even turned the hammerhead into a negative-G humpty-bump before dragging it back into hammerhead territory.
I will say this for myself. Even though it was the first acro flight of the year, I was very relaxed and my attention remained wide and mostly situationally aware. In the balked hammerhead, I didn’t freak out. I think I basically said, “Well, f*ck,” and just relaxed until I could figure out what the airplane wanted to do and then got the nose back down. There’s a big difference between disappointment and freakout. I think I understand the airplane a little better, at least intellectually, and that’s helping to give me a better perspective from which to learn.
I have a very cool ride scheduled with the Air Force later in May (think G-suit fittings and helmets and egress training . . . ) and I have precious little time to get my acro tolerance back before going.
So back to the flight. The camera mount worked like a champ. Here’s one of the better frame grabs. On an inverted 45-degree downline.
It turns out that the ContourHD has no idea what to do with the prop and just artifacts it all to hell. The footage over the nose is well-nigh unusable. It looks like black boomerangs floating down the prop disc. I think we’re going to have to either point the camera straight ahead so it doesn’t see the plane at all or point it directly sideways at the cockpit to give a view of the camper and the IP. I don’t think there’s any setting that we’d be able to use to avoid the artifacts. It’s just not within the camera’s abilities to handle the prop.
Bummer, but not catastrophic. We’ll figure it out.
We put it down in Romeo to switch seats and let Don take the aircraft up solo to really wring out the exterior camera. In reviewing the footage tonight, I’m of the opinion that, if the camera was going to come off at all, it would have come off during Don’s routine. I think we’re good and can be confident with the camera mount.
I have yet to review the audio, but the battery in the M-Audio MultiTrack II was fine and easily covered the whole 1:24 of the flight. I set it to record in WAV mode at 48KHz, as Scott Cannizzaro suggested, so we’ll see how that sounds.