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I set up this page in 2003 to cover the amazing crossing of the Atlantic by a GPS-controlled model aircraft. See "Trans Atlantic Model (TAM) - Success !" below. Over the years I've found myself adding more pictures and videos. e.g. Old Steam Trains, filmed from the air in 2004 :-)
I'm still looking for the "Duck-Cam" video, filmed at California in England, but here is something we filmed at Windsor, a few years ago :-)
Robin Lovelock, Sunninghill,UK. December 2017.
Yes, they eventually made it: the first trans-Atlantic crossing by a GPS-controlled model aircraft.
The model, launched from Newfoundland, arrived in Ireland on Monday 11th August 2003. This was after three models were lost in earlier attempts in 2002 - although one got 25% across !
The aircraft were tracked by satellite communications - so they knew exactly where each was, and - nearer the ETA - when and where it should appear on the horizon. There on the left are some of the team in the USA, earlier this year, and on the right, the proud team posing in Ireland just after safe arrival.
Barrett 'Joe' Foster first told Robin of this project in 1998, but it took over 4 years to reach fruition. Well Done Lads ! :-)
footnote from Robin in 2016 :
Maynard Hill passed away in 2011, but you may read more about his good work on sites such as
(the original tam.plannet21.com is now broken).
There is also a
You can see a u-tube video
Back in 2006, "Puppycam" was a radio-controlled project to provide Robin and his "grumpy old friends" some amusement. This was years after they started flying model aircraft with video cameras.
The little white fluffy dog can run around on grass and can raise it's back leg to squirt a jet of water three metres.
The dog seen here on the left tore off puppycam's head and gave him a good shaking. The puppy video is on here in WMV (17 MB), or click on Youtube video on right. Stuart is the covert cameraman, and you can hear us both laughing :-)
You may enjoy playing 20 minutes of Robin's Hobby Clips, intended to entertain old and new chums at a meeting of Chobham Common Model Flyer's Association (CCMFA). They now have a CCMFA Facebook page. These clips include those old VHS air videos below, and also other material that has been on my pages for years. Please note the "Health Warning" on the test of an intelligent car by a pidgeon. Rockets are not now allowed on Chobham Common, be they SAMs or Air-to-Air missiles :-)
Here is a youtube video, recently found on VHS. It includes old flying mates from Chobham Common flying models such as Frank's Caterlina and Martin's Concorde. Yes, Snoopy is also to be seen, doing aerial video and air-to-air intercepts of a Red Kite ! See the old youtube video here.
Here is much older Aerial video shot in the early 1990s (?) on 8mm film Anyone from CCMFA remember my playing it at an AGM ? John Hancock: I have DVDs for you :-)
Some of you may know of the daft "message in a bottle" project, back in 2004, when Artist Layla Curtis dropped bottles into the sea off Ramsgate, on my birthday, in the hope that they might reach the other side of the World. Some were GPS bottles and we tracked them across the channel to France and Holland. A few years later, we did something similar for BBC Radio Solent here.
On the right you see one of our GPS bottle prototypes - but we never completed the autopilot in time for the launch :-)
In 2008 I became interested in another Trans-Atlantic hobby project: that to be the first Robot Boat to cross the Atlantic. For details, including the Pocket PC based AutoPilot, see GPS Guided Trans-Atlantic Robot Boat.
Well - I guess it had to happen sooner or later... Robin being daft enough to test his software in the air over Chobham Common, rather than the usual monitoring of where he and June were on one of their cheap holiday flights to Italy.
On 24th May 2007, after adding altitude handling to the Pocket PC version of his GPS Software, he decided to take the risk and fly it on one of his electric gliders - normally used for air photography. No "rocket science" here - just his trusty old Garmin yellow etrex, the iPAQ running GPSSppc, all stuck onto the top of the 'plane with.... yes - duck tape - what else ? :-)
Amazingly the "bog standard" Multiplex EasyGlider, with no special motor, pulled up the 3/4 Lb of payload without too much trouble. Straight after landing, we were using GPSSppc to play back the recorded flight on the same iPAQ, seeing where the 'plane went on a google earth aerial photo added to the iPAQ GPS Software before he left home.
The instrument panel showed things like ground speed in mph, altitude in feet above sea level (the launch site seemed to be about 190 ft), and distance in yards from where we stood.
Don't know if we will do it again. Has anyone got a neat solution for driving
one or two servos from something like the serial output from the iPAQ ? ;-)
On the right is a 3D plot from google earth, of data recorded by an I-gotU GPS logger.
Most of our aerial filming was done by Snoopy flying "EasyStar" a lightweight polystyrene kit powered by a quiet electric motor. This model flys well in all conditions, including stong winds, and has even used floats to take off water. Robin's favorite trick is to both launch AND land in his hand :-) Here on the left you see Snoopy, gritting his teeth before yet another mission, behind the TV camera in its forward position. On the right is a picture taken by Ron Perkins, of Snoopy being followed closely - the TV camera needed to point up more ! In 2004 Snoopy filmed lots of places and our hope in 2005 is to get some good air-to-air video of Red Kites
To see Red Kites filmed from the air, click on the Youtube image below. If you want to see video of Chobham Common and EasyStars from the air, click here (4.5 MB). If you want to see Grumpy Old Men "behaving badly" with rockets, checkout the one minute of excitement here (2 MB).
I originally set this page up to cover the amazing attempt to cross the Atlantic with GPS-controlled model aircraft. This re-awakened my interest in an old hobby - use of radio controlled model aircraft to take aerial photos. Thanks to Jan-Freerk Janssen and Holge Buge of www.Cam4Spy.de based in Wendelstein, Germany, I got into flying small video cameras. They sent me one of their miniture colour TV cameras with microphone, radio link transmitter and receiver - see picture on the right. You can see the camera-transmitter in the tube slung under the wing of my electric powered glider. The receiver is in the foreground. This plugs into a camcorder which can switch between it's own camera and the picture and sound from the receiver. Our first flights were from Charter's School, during the kids half-term, and with the kind permission of the Head Mistress.
Unfortunately, despite many requests by me, I've been unable to buy additional hardware
from Jan-Freek and Holger, but have found good solutions from Maplins and direct from China
- so now we have quite a collection of small TV cameras and receivers. The 1.2 GHz systems
from China tend to be cheaper and smaller. We've had excellent results with the Maplin
systems, including the £35 2.4 GHz receiver and similarly priced transmitter.
Believe it or not, our latest hobby activity involves use of radio controlled ducks
with miniture chinese cameras in their heads. Our first attempt is on the left - but we
had to add ducklings to stop it capsizing at speed. Mk2 on the right was built with more
care and is now our first choice: great for filming other water-birds - or Joe
Public on the bank throwing bread at it :-)
It was the emails from Joe Foster that re-awakened my interest in model flying - to the extent of blowing lots of dust off my old electric glider, used to take aerial pictures some ten or fifteen years earlier on the Sunninghill page. The 2000maH 8-cell pack hauled up the 3.5 lb model plus 0.5 lb of my wife June's digital camera with no problem - evidence here. On the right is the "Tank Hill" flying site popular with Chobham Model Flyers - you may be able to just make out me and two other guys to the right of the bushes.
Here on the left is a picture taken the day before, from another part of Chobham Common. That's
me in the middle, casting a shadow onto the path, with the Monument
towards the top right.
The seat between me, and the monument, is from
where the picture above was taken - by a friendly 81 year old local
dog walker - who shares the love of model flight. Look at the height of those gorse bushes
on the left - not an easy launch site ! :-)
If anyone is interested in doing some GPS-controlled model aircraft work
or aerial movie photography,
please contact me via the
Here are some 35mm stills that I took from the air in the 1980s - I think :-)
Hi Guys ! Here is some food for thought, from my personal perspective, when we are discussing things like the shrinking rights of model flyers on Chobham Common. I'm sure someone will correct me if they think I am wrong. I'm not like my wife June, and always right ! :-)
CCMFA = Chobham Common Model Flyers Association.
1. there is no legal requirement in UK to have insurance. It would be good if this changed.
2. there is no legal requirement to be a member of CCMFA to fly on the Common.
3. CCMFA has always existed to protect the interests of model flyers, particularly with regard to relations with the local Council, who can set Bye-Laws such as restrictions on us. It's main purpose has been as a Social Network of Grumpy Old Gits and long-suffering wives :-)
4. the main benifit of the regular "gardening work" on the Common, that was been done for years, was to promote good relations with the Council, through contact with employed rangers, such as Any Wragg. The work, such as clearing brambles, cutting back gorse, and removing small trees, kept the flying areas such as Tank Hill, and old glider flying sites, clear for flying. It also had benifit to other Common users such as walkers, including young families, and dog-walkers. Possibly also horse-riders, with their understandable fear of model aircraft.
I started model flying in the mid 1960's, when an apprentice at Ferranti, in Western Rd, Bracknell. I was given some radio control kit by Jack Bishop in the maintence department, where they met to be paid overtime to work on "homers" like model aircraft stuff. We flew in places like the Bracknell Southern Industrial Area, after the roads were in but before the factories built. I remember that kit given me was a single valve transmitter, a transiter receiver, and a bang-bang clockwork escapement, for the rudder.
After 1971, when I married June, and we went to live in Holland, I took up model flying more seriously. The law in Holland demanded model accident insurance, and I wrongly assumed that it was needed in UK. The well paid tax-free job with SHAPE ( 90 quid a week ! ) meant I could splash out on proper radio control kit. When we bought a house in Zoeterwoude, we had a nice flying field between our house and the motorway - where one of my models landed just once ! :-)
We returned to UK and a new home in Sunninghill in 1980, and it must have been around then that I started flying regularly up on Chobham Common, at The Monument, and Tank Hill. I took out BMFA insurance, andf have ever since - long before joining CCMFA. It was there I met John Hancock, who told me about CCMFA, and I joined. I've come to the meetings ever since - mostly to meet other grumpy old gits !
I've done little flying for years. It was often at other places, when I got into aerial video photography. Here, on the right, is Snoopy's Easystar, a veteran of many recce missions, including overseas. This more recent picture from the "PocketCam" page shows the recent addition of a drone camera. It's unlikely that it will provide significant VTOL capability. My Snoopy robot boat hobby has some overlap, such as buying cheap servo leads from Martin, for our autopilots :-)
In recent years the Council seems to have laid off emplyees, like rangers, and made more use of voluntary bodies, such as those representing the interests of Naturists - sorry Naturalists !
It has always occured to me that the best way of dealing with the Council was akin to "PR" ( Public Relations ). e.g. a nice photograph of a bunch of old CCMFA members, posing with the Council's Ranger or whoever, during a "gardening session". If in snow, so much the better. A picture says more than a thousand words - a youtube video often more.
Sometimes an indirect approach is more effective. e.g. the information reaching it's target, such as a decion-maker, from further up the management or political chain. Or them seeing it in a newspaper, or on TV.
Over the years, I've often done things through the efforts of others - not least the Press. A well contructed "Press Pack", with material ready for publication, such as that nice photo, with few well-chosen words, fed to the right journalist, can achieve a lot. Some examles are my AsOnTV page, and NHSCare.info - but take care you don't stray onto my Bluebell pages :-)
Guys who want to drop in to "chew the fat" or discuss any of the above are very welcome. We can meet here, or maybe join our "Last of the Summer Wine" team, for a local pub grub. My contact details have always been public - see below.
Several of my mates are model flyers, but at other sites, such as Windsor, Fleet, Reading. Some model-flyer friends are overseas, and I am reminded of that by those visitors to this page on that spinning globe below. Hoever, few will visit UK to fly on Chobham Common :-)
Sorry I rarely use social media sites like Facebook, and prefer direct email, the 'phone, or - better still - face to face meetings.
I look forward to seeing some of you soon.
Robin Lovelock, 22 Armitage Court, Sunninghill, Ascot, SL5 9TA - I'll often provide tea or coffee at short notice :-)
Landline 01344 620775 but best on my non-smart mobile: 07736 353 404 - just texts or speech :-)
Email on email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com - only dealt with, but quickly, when home.
Yes, some of these 35mm photos were taken a good few years ago :-)
Only visits to this page since 11th February 2016, counted by www.digits.net .
Chobham Common Monument Flying Site was once popular with Robin's flying friends. It was never, like Tank Hill, a place for beginers :-)
Tank Hill is the popular place for radio control model flyers - lots of space to learn ! The Free-Flighters use "The Hollow" below.
Tank Hill was a good base from which to fly aerial recce of Longcross House and The Tank Factory - home of Chobham Armour. This photo, poster sized, was on an office wall ;-)
Aerial recce in the 1980s near RAF Odiham - home to the Chinook Helicopters. Home to Recce Spitfires in World War II.
© Robin Lovelock.