The joys of FPV are many, but nothing quite matches the first time you fly a whole pack without crashing. That sense of accomplishment the first time you finally nail a power loop. If life had an on screen display, you would have seen “ –Achievement Unlocked– You got the Power” flash across your heads up display at that moment. Want more achievements faster? You need to fly with your FPV community pilots.
Once you have those down, how can you get better? An even more important philosophical question. “If you had found other FPV pilots farther along than you, would you have reached those milestones faster?” The answer, is a resounding yes!
Now I know what your thinking. “I am not good enough yet”. “ I just wanna burn packs on my own”. “I’ve watched every Le Drib video out there. Even the Tiny Whoop ones so it’s only a matter of time until I’m buttery smooth on the sticks “. “I’m going to wait until I am a master on my own. Then challenge Captain Vanover for the Drone Racing National Championship Title”.
Now, if you are the chosen one, this may yet come to fruition. For the rest of us mere mortals this thought process is not based in reality. Would any champion of any kind have reached the pinnacle without help from others? Of course not. So lets cover the bases on why this is critical to becoming a better pilot in 5 easy steps leveraging your FPV community.
Reasons you need to fly with other FPV Community pilots
- You need a Wingman
- Youtube doesn’t tell you the whole story
- Find out the best places to fly in town
- Community Tech Support
- Other humans to talk about FPV with
Why is it so important to fly with other people?
You Need a Wingman
Simply put, in most situations you need a wingman. Did Maverick ever suit up to go hunting Mig’s inverted without Goose? (Well no he didn’t, at least for the first half of the movie). And yes, there may be some Ace in the field that ends up being your own personal Val Kilmer who thinks your flying is dangerous. That’s okay, that is how we learn.
Many of us are visual learners. Our brains need to see examples of what should be occurring before we can convert stimulus to valid neural connections allowing our brains to know what to do. Afterall our brains need to coordinate in fractions of a second that we fly with to tell our hands the commands to execute. In those fractions of a moment we hurl our quads through gaps so small the slightest hesitation can be the difference between glory and certain destruction.
Not to mention the fact that you get lost in long grass, stuck in a tree, or on top of a building. You need an extra set of eyes, hands and feet to climb, spot, or help you retrieve your quad. Its unreal how even a full sized Armattan Chameleon can become completely invisible in even medium length grass. You need someone from your FPV community to be there with a rope to help get you unstuck.
Why YouTube doesn’t tell the whole story
The fact is, YouTube has some amazing footage. I watch it all the time. Heck, I even upload some of it. But there aren’t many sources to see from a third person perspective what a quad is doing in flight. How much tilt it has in flight. How a quad sounds when you take a turn at full throttle. What path from an external viewpoint a proper split S has. It’s one thing to see it through the pilots eyes or a GoPro, but another all together to witness it. This is why you should be flying with other FPV pilots.
I know the first time I saw another pilot flying, I was astounded at the angle of the quad! I had been putting around at maybe 20 degrees camera tilt. This means at max speed flying level I was only going a fraction of the speed my equipment’s capabilities. You don’t quite get that, until you see someone doing it in person.
Not to mention the technical support suggestions and ideas that can be exchanged in minutes. Issues that may have left you stuck for hours, days, or even an entire quad thrown into the trash can to figure out.
Especially starting out, seeing other FPV community pilots in flight can help you make leaps in understanding much faster. Remember, the faster you get to a baseline ability, the less parts you break due to “lack of skill” crashes.
Find the best places to fly in town
Once you have dented the family mini van, or frightened your neighbors flying your 5” in your front yard, you need bigger and better places to fly that are more appropriate. This is a key of your FPV community, as people are always looking for new, better, and safer places to fly. Become a part of this network. Figure out where the races are and join up. For more in depth coverage on how to do this, check out, the article about finding attending your first race.
Community Support Join a local network
Ever get a build done and need one tiny piece to get in the air? Ever drop a standoff into the abyss off your bench and now that’s preventing you from precious flight time? Your community will have your back when down to your last prop-nut, and just need a spare to get back in the air.
Banging your head on a wall trying to get the betaflight configurator to recognize your new flight controller and have just watched your 12th hour of Joshua Bardwell videos trying to figure it out? Your FPV community can help you.
Other humans to talk about FPV with!
This is especially critical if you are annoying your mom, girlfriend, boss or even your dog by constantly extolling the virtues of FPV. Trust me, if they haven’t told you they are sick of hearing it, they will soon. You need an outlet to talk about the new Gate Breaker props . Whether they are what you have been looking for to get to the next level.
You need to be able to get off your chest the time when you were up till 3:00 AM finishing your build only to incorrectly wire your flight controller. A n00b mistake that resulted in a puff of dreaded magic smoke. And how you started out flying a cheap clone before you knew any better and discovered www.getfpv.com. As of yet, there is no 12-step-program for FPV, so your local FPV community can play this role for you.
Are you starting to see why you should be flying with other FPV pilots?
Oh darling, those Gate Breaker props will make our relationship and my laptimes stronger…
What are the Resources you need?
Now that we have covered why you need to seek out others, lets cover how to go about it.
Sign up for MultiGP if you ever have any ideas of racing or attending racing events. Multigp is the world wide racing network where chapters coordinate racing events. Pilots sign up for events, and things like channels are assigned a head of time to keep events on track.
If the event has scoring available, the scores can be uploaded to MultiGP for you to view how you did for the day. You can also upload your quads info, and view the info of other pilots who have done the same to take note of what new set of motors that pilot you were going head to head against was using.
Drone Squad is an app you can download on your phone and search your area for local chapters, meetups and other fun flying activities. Simply search your community to see what other groups people have started and join up.
In addition to it’s FPV social networking,the Drone Squad app can also interface with the TBS RaceTracker. This awesome piece of functionality means that you can run the TBS RaceTracker on your own or at an event with any IOS or Android device.
This is the method that is most used in my city (Houston). Search your city’s name and FPV and join whatever groups are there. Once inside, introduce yourself, ask whatever questions you may have in a safe space. Ask what other groups you should join for whatever type of flying you do. If you want to be a racer, ask what the best group is for racing, and how they coordinate events. For my town its mostly done through Facebook.
If there isn’t a Facebook group for your city, make one! Be the patient zero that infects your city with the gift of flight. Allow your community to take to the skies in a way they have only ever dreamed or seen in movies.