Picodome® used in Stunt Plane
Modern video cameras used in aerobatic flight training
Loopings, Cuban eights, rolls – at just twelve, Jojo Rodriguez has perfect control over his airplane and has already won two gold medals at the annual aerobatic championships in Florida. During training, his flight instructor uses a very special technology. Dallmeier cameras on board the aircraft record the entire flight, subsequently allowing for a detailed analysis of the flight performance.
Apart from his work as a system integrator for CCTV systems, Peter Müller, owner of Nimbus USA Inc., has been wholly dedicated to aerobatics for many years. Besides other commitments he was a member of the “National Aerobatic Team of Venezuela”. These days, the experienced pilot and member of the International Aerobatic Club divides his time between his main job and training up-and-coming aerobatic talents in South Florida.
In this sport national and international competitions are carried out, using specifically designed small, high-powered aircraft to perform standardised flight patterns, according to the Aresti catalogue, which gives detailed description of those patterns regarding the angle of attack, distances and curve diameters, etc. Elements of those figures are, for example, the "Reverse Cuban Eight", "Snap Rolls", "Split S", "Spins", “Torque Rolls” or “Loopings”.
Flight training using cameras
During the competition, the exactitude of the performance of those predefined flight patterns is monitored and evaluated by jurors on the ground. For the pilot it is difficult to assess his performance and especially a beginner is hardly able to judge whether or not a flight pattern has been carried out precisely and in accordance with the requirements. Naturally, though, not every single training flight can be monitored by trained personnel from the ground.
What could have been more obvious for a professional from the area of video surveillance than to use video technology for evaluating his students’ performances? However, the search for suitable cameras proved to be much more difficult than previously expected. The demands placed on cameras for such applications are extreme. First of all, the cameras need to be highly robust since the acrobats do not treat their aircraft particularly demurely during the flights. Also, the rapidly changing lighting conditions are among the most extreme requirements imaginable. One minute the sky is above, the next minute it is below. During loopings the sun may shine from all directions. Sometimes the plane flies around a dark cloud which causes a shadow and then quickly rises vertically, heading directly into the sun.
Picodome® solves the most challenging lighting conditions
Eventually, the Picodome® with Cam_inPIX® technology from Dallmeier, based in Regensburg, Germany, turned out to be the best solution. This compact and robust camera by far outclassed all other tested devices. In contrast to all systems based on CCD chips the Dallmeier Cam_inPIX® technology effortlessly copes with the extreme lighting conditions, making blooming or smearing phenomena a thing of the past. Both rapid changes between direct sun light and lower light sensitivity pose no challenge to the Dallmeier Picodome®. For the first time, the accuracy of aerobatic flight patterns can be recorded by on-board cameras without limitations. The live images are already used by the flight instructor during the flight in order to be able to more effectively improve his students’ flight performances. Back on the ground the recorded videos provide an ideal basis for debriefing with the student.
Aboard Müller’s most talented student's plane, that of twelve year old Jojo Rodriguez, four Dallmeier Picodome® were installed. Camera one was integrated into the student’s instrument panel and records his every reaction during each phase of the training. A second camera was mounted above the cockpit, directed at the rear of the aircraft, whereas camera three was installed on the wing of the plane, viewing the cockpit and fuselage from a ninety degree angle. Finally, a fourth Picodome® was mounted on the belly of the aircraft and is, for instance, used to assess the quality of landings.
Gold thanks to Picodome®
Young Jojo Rodriguez could not wish for better visuals and teaching materials. Especially since Dallmeier camera technology has contributed to his already winning two gold medals at the annual aerobatic championships in Sebring, Florida. "The Dallmeier Picodome® contributed significantly in improving Jojo’s natural talent and taking the young member of the “Young Eagle Program” to such successes at his young age”, says his instructor Peter Müller. Additionally, Mr. Müller states that “The Picodome® helps all of us to become better pilots and make flying safer”.