Model airplanes go hi-tech

By Andrew Freiden - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Model airplanes have come a long way -- not only do you not have to build them yourself, you can even use them to shoot aerial video.

A little black piece of plastic packs a big punch -- one that is revolutionizing an old hobby. A video camera the size of a matchbook holds two gigabytes of video.

"VELCRO! Just take it, small camera, Velcro piece on the plane... Away you go," said Robert Lee, model airplane enthusiast.

The camera costs just $10 and it gives Lee a birds-eye view. After his plane lands, he can quickly upload the movie onto his computer and check it out.

The quality isn't HD, but it's not bad either!

"When you are flying small aircraft, weight is at a premium," he said.

To keep the weight and cost down, the camera is simple. No zoom lens, so you can't peer into backyards. And the controls are simple. There's only a start and stop button.

"You start the camera recording... And then you attach it and launch," he said.

Then you mail it to your friends or upload it onto YouTube.

The video camera isn't the only recent advancement. The 2010 model airplanes are ready to fly right out of the box -- no assembly required and you can get one for under a $100.

"You don't have to take a box of balsa wood and tissue paper and build them. You can now buy an aircraft ready to fly," Lee said.

"I'm an impatient guy. If I built a ship in a bottle, it'd be done in one night. I don't like things that take days and days to get to fruition," he said.

So it's not your father's model airplane any more as technological advancements make model airplanes cheaper and easier than ever -- and with an onboard camera, you can show off for your friends wherever they are.

Re-chargeable batteries have replaced gas on many of the new models. Making the hobby cleaner than ever.

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