Video Of The Day: Phantom Footage

No, this video wasn’t shot with a traditional helicopter and huge video cameras. In fact, neither was this one. Both sequences were filmed using a new accessory for the popular GoPro camera. It’s called the DJI Phantom, and it’s described as an “aerial drone helicopter” for your GoPro. The videos captured using this expensive toy are breathtaking — I found myself having to move my head from one side of my monitor to the other to ensure I didn’t miss anything.

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Human-Powered Helicopter Wins Award (VIDEO)

Oh Canada! First you gave us William Shatner, now you give us a human-powered helicopter.

A team of engineers called AeroVelo has won a $250,000 award for creating a human-powered helicopter that could fly three meters off the ground for 60 seconds while keeping the cockpit within a ten-square-meter area. The American Helicopter Society sponsored this Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition, and the prize money has been on offer for nearly 30 years.

Man-powering a helicopter is tough to do since humans don’t have strength to lift themselves off the ground without large rotors. Of course, large rotors are heavy, making it hard for a human to get the helicopter off the ground. This is the reason all those Renaissance-era experiments with birdlike flapping wings never worked. To cut down on weight, the team used super-light materials that are too delicate to be flown outdoors.

AeroVelo’s flight lasted 64.11 seconds, a world record, and reached up to 3.3 meters in altitude. As you can see from the video, drift was a problem with this and all other competitors, with the machine drifting up to 9.8 meters.

So will this be the new way to get to the hockey game? Probably not. The personal jetpack has been around for decades but never took off either. The Martin Jetpack company is trying to change that, although they haven’t yet made their jetpacks — which will probably cost in the six figures — commercially available yet. Popular Mechanics did an interesting article on why jet packs aren’t feasible.

How The Rich Kids Of Instagram Travel

When it comes to vacations, most of us probably already knew that the so-called one percent don’t exactly fly cattle class, stay in Super 8 motels or slurp cheap Chinatown noodles to keep their budget under check. But we didn’t realize just how lavish their vacations actually were until a collection of snapshots titled “Rich Kids of Instagram” started making its way around the Internet.

The photos follow spectacularly wealthy young adults as they jetset their way across the globe, instagramming their every move so the other 99 percent can gawk, tsk, admire, envy or weep over, depending on their inclination.Helicopters and private jets appear to rule as the transport method of choice for this unapologetically rich crowd. One instagrammer even buckled a gold-plated champagne bottle into its own seat on his jet while another reserved a plush leather spot for his dog. Boats made an appearance too with one photo showing Louis Vuitton luggage piled high on a luxurious yacht bound for the island of St Barth.

As far as destinations go, the rich kids of instagram are lounging by the pool at their holiday homes (holiday mansions?) in the Hamptons, posing in their brother’s chateau in the French city of Cannes, or stimulating the economy in Monaco. All this while they double-fist bottles of Dom Perignon and spray themselves with Moet like a Formula 1 driver on a podium. It’s a fantasy world to say the least, but you can step into it vicariously by clicking over here.

China Opens World’s First ‘Airplane Supermarket’

On the heels of a report that shows Chinese tourists spend more money than anyone else comes news that the world’s first “airplane supermarket” has opened in Beijing.

Typically, private aircraft are purchased through private deals, at local airports or online. Opening a brick-and-mortar aircraft store akin to a car dealership should be a boon to private aircraft ownership in China, which is a relatively novel concept. Private pilots are a rarity in the country because of strict military control of Chinese airspace. However, China’s newly minted millionaires are frequently happy to pay fines of upwards of $17,000 for violating the regulations. And soon, the government will ease restrictions on certain types of low-level flights.

Affluent Beijing businessmen can now swing by their local aircraft emporium on their way home to pick up a Pipistrel 4-seater or a Eurocopter helo. Prospective customers can take airplanes out for a test fly in a specially designated zone surrounding the store. While recreational flying is a pricy hobby, according to a manager at the new store getting rid of their stock is “as easy as selling cabbages.”

[Photo Credit: Getty Images]

Video of the day: flying rhinos in South Africa

Flying Rhinos from Green Renaissance on Vimeo.

Flying rhinos aren’t something you see everyday–not even in South Africa, where 19 of these endangered rhinos have recently been moved from the Eastern Cape to a conservation location in the province of Limpopo. Still relatively new, an airlift capture technique was used to transport black rhinos out of inaccessible or difficult locations. Suspending a sleeping rhino by the ankles through the air and to waiting vehicles is undoubtedly a difficult task, but conservation managers, wildlife veterinarians, capture teams from WWF, SANParks, Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency, and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife all worked in cooperation with each other to ensure the success of this translocation mission.

All in all, these rhinos were moved 932 miles across the country. With an average commute of just 10 minutes or so by helicopter, one of the advantages of flying the black rhinos in this specific manner is that they don’t need to be drugged for an extended period of time. The WWF Black Rhino Range Expansion Project has created seven significant black rhino populations over the last eight years–nearly 120 black rhinos have been translocated due to these admirable efforts.