As you know we have been working on aerial video mounts and aerial drops. Now, with current flood risks rising, we are looking at combining the adaptations to our aircraft. Yesterday we cut a great big hole in the plane. We did not do this lightly. Much consultation took place.
The original idea had been to use our existing vertical shot video mount and cut a round drop chute for the supply cannister system. However, the need to shoot large areas of land from low levels mean that we needed to create a video mount that could be adjusted in flight to create two 'just overlapping' images (show them using two computers and two projectors and you get your own IMAX effects). This way, we can fly down a river and shoot both banks out at least 500m each side - the critical flood areas, should it ever happen.
So the need to create a close-able hatch, with removable camera mounts and easily fitted delivery chute grew in importance. The recent free drops have worked at 100%, so we sat down and scratched our heads.
Patricia, always sad at cutting the plane she built, was very cautious and constantly checking all works done.
Juliet came up with the idea of rails and cage concept, adapted to doors.
Ciara was simply excited at the whole idea and kept on smiling, she is queen of the Cortec treatments.
Lydia was running around picking up snippings, swarf and sweeping up ensuring the area was constantly clean (camera lenses dont like swarf).
Emmanuella was ever ready to pass the drill or any other tool she could get her hands on.
All of the girls did some cutting, filing, drilling and deburring - because that is how we learn!
I, was given the stressful job of making sure the concepts and parts all fitted together. This is still in development, so some edges in the shots are not cleaned up yet.
For the test flight, I sat right and calibrated the cameras. Patricia did all of the flying - including a very excellent cross wind landing at 12 knots gusting to 15!!! The undercarriage is still good!
When not in use the flaps close. The holes allow variable positions of the rails. Each rail has three mount positions. We can also mount a still camera on the mounts. Vibrations are negligible. As you can see in the image below, we have retained the other camera mount. This will allow us to film the aerial drops and to calibrate the camera there to point forwards for targeting the drops. OK, so it is an extreme solution - but we live in an extreme environment.
Here are some images taken on the test run (sorry we cannot upload video)
Flooded fields north of Battor - taken through the window.
Rice Fields and a typical river near Akuse - taken through the trap door.
Kpong hydro-electric dam near Akuse. (our airfield is about 4km to the left from the top left corner) taken through the window.
We are now working on the cannister drop mechanism to adapt to the same mounting system. It is all over engineered and very robust with a suitable extrusions added to bridge the openings. More photos and details will follow once we get the drop mechanisms working...
Interestingly, there is no draft from the opening - even without the lexan cover in place. In fact there is a slight suction on the opening.... no exhaust fumes issues either - which we had been concerned about. It does create a nausea in the camera operator (me). But I am getting used to that.
Any ideas? Please, if you have experience on this sort of thing, please share to avoid us making unnecessary mistakes.