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Earning My Wings:

a video blog about learning to fly

UPDATE: Now that I’ve earned my wings, I’m still flying and learning. This blog will remain open and active for those interested in the flight training process, however, if you want to see what I’ve been up to since becoming a pilot, please check out my columns in Sport Aviation magazine. - Brady

Recent Posts
I'm going to learn to fly!!
About this video blog
Getting started
Selecting an instructor
I have an instructor!
Waiting...actively waiting
First day of school
In the Remos G3-600
Flight 01: First flight!
It's not a do-list, it's a checklist
Flight 02: steep turns, slow flight
Safety Seminar
Flight 03: Stalls, steep turns, slow flight
Flight 04: Stalls, stalls & more stalls
Flight 05: Ground Reference Maneuvers
Flight 06: Talking to the Tower
The Wonders of Weather Watching
Flight 07: Practicing Emergencies
Flight 08: Landings
I'm Official!
Flight 09: More Landings
Flight 10: Stalls & Crosswind Landings
Flight 11: The Learning Plateau
What's it like to solo?
Flight 12: Back in the air
Flight 13: Landings
A different point of view
Flight 14: Gaining Confidence
Flight 15: 1st SOLO
Flight 16: Making Good Decisions
Read, Study, Sleep
Written Test: PASSED!
Under the wing of the B-17
Recording in-flight video
Good News!
A Thorough Look-Over
Just For Fun
Flight 17: Back in the Air
Flight 18: Stalls, Slow Flight and Landings
Flight 19: Crosswind Workout
Flight 20: Practice, Practice, Practice
Flight 21: First Cross-Country
At the End of Taxiway Alpha
Flight 22: Short, Soft Field Landings
Schedules and Spring Showers
Flight 23: Class C Airspace
Flight 24: On the Numbers
Flight 25: 2nd Solo
Flight 26: 1st Solo Cross-Country
Flight 27: Solo Landings & Heavy Traffic
Flight 28: Feeling the Heat
Flight 29: Practicing Short, Soft Field Landings
Flight 30: Solo Review
Oshkosh Tower visit
Tough Decisions
Flight 31-32: Final Review for Checkride
I'm a Pilot!
Checkride: Passed!
My First Passenger
License to Learn

Thursday, March 05
Recording in-flight video
By Brady Lane at 2:15 PM     
Flight log to date  Hours flown: 14.8  |  Days since I started: 142  | Cost: $2,601.20  

I've received numerous questions about what gear we're using to record video of our flights.  As a student pilot, I've benefited greatly from being able to watch the video of each lesson after the flight.  It's amazing how much more you hear the second time through — and it's just fun to watch!

Basically, we are using two separate lipstick cameras from Race Optics.  We have one camera mounted on the dash (looking back at me) and one mounted on the ceiling window above us (looking out over the nose). 

Since there is not a separate line-in for audio on the digital video recorders (DVRs), I have to record our radio and intercom communications on a separate audio recorder, an Edirol R-09.  For $6 I purchased a Y-cable to plug into the headset jack, so I could plug my headset into one end and the recorder into the other.

I keep both of the video DVRs and the audio recorder behind my seat in the small cubby space.  By the time everything is installed, it's quite the mess of wires.  I've taped down most of the cables to keep it as organized as possible. 

The guys here at EAA's restoration shop made the mounts for me, but similar ones are available from Race Optics and other distributors. 

Before each flight, I turn on all three units and then clap to give myself a marker to synch the two video files with the audio file when editing.  It's not the best system, but we've been able to make it work.

That being said, here is a list of what I like and don't like about our setup.  Hopefully it will help guide you if you're looking for a similar system.


  • records digital video on an SD card
  • easy to turn on/off in flight
  • large screen for video preview
  • DVRs are small and compact
  • decent picture quality


  • short battery life (just over an hour)
  • no line-in audio into DVR
  • records video in AVI format, which means I have to individually convert the videos before they can be edited on a Mac.  (This takes a couple hours.)
  • video interference when talking on the radio

There are numerous manufacturers out there that make similar camera systems, so I encourage you to look around.  (DataToys.com was mentioned in a previous comment on the blog). You can spend several thousand or several hundred on these systems.  We went somewhere in the middle.  If you have a strong mount, you can also mount a small camcorder, but be careful it doesn't block your vision.

Whatever you do, take care that the cables and cameras aren't going to get in your way while flying the plane. Also make sure the electronics don't interfere with your radio.

If you have any questions, please ask.  Recording video in flight is incredibly fun to watch and has been a priceless tool in my training.   And as always, if you have another way to do it or have some other advice, please share with us.


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