FPV drone pilots are inspired by a culture largely driven through YouTube videos. Most of us have our own YouTube channels and love to share our content with the FPV community. Many videos shape our culture and influence what we do in real life.
Here are my picks for the top FPV videos of all time. Some of these videos look dated by our standards today but are so influential that they have shared our experience and deserve a place here. Take a look and let me know what you think. Did I get it right? If not too bad, hash it out in the comments and then go fly!
# 10 Racing Drone Racing Star Wars Style
Everyone in FPV that I’ve met has seen a video on YouTube that got them into the hobby. This is mine. It’s a bunch of French guys flying really old school racing drones in the Alps. I didn’t fly FPV until years after I saw this video, but it was always in the back of my mind and when everything else in my life came together and I had time for a hobby it was this video I went back to.
To me, this is the hobby in its purest form – basically a bunch of guys getting to be Star Wars spaceship pilots for a few minutes. I remember fantasizing about doing something just like this with my toys as a kid. Watching this video was so tantalizing because it was like seeing a childhood dream literally become true.
# 9 Left Behind -FPV
If the French guys’ video didn’t pull you in, then Charpu did. Pretty much everyone in FPV has seen this video and all those videos we see today of pilots flying through abandon structures stems from this video.
Charpu hit his prime before I go into FPV, but his influence is everywhere. I don’t think I’ve been to a flight event yet where someone has not mentioned Charpu’s name or asked if they could borrow the group’s “Charpu’s Moral Stick”.
# 8 Transcendence
This video came out a year before I started and I never knew of the pilot (MattyStuntzFPV) until recently. But, looking at this video it is crystal clear that this style has been dramatically influential. My own style is based off of this flight, although I had only seen these moves second hand through pilots like Drib. There are so many elements in here: reverse loops, a wall tap and even the same bridge dive that would play such a notorious role years later.
#7 Flight of the Year
When a flight edit gets almost 3 million views and only around 100,000 even fly FPV you know something special is happening. In this video, FPV pilot Nurk ruined the hobby by playing with a train in the desert over a bridge. I don’t want to give it away, but the stunts Nurk pulls here are very hard to believe. While a Mr. Steele video might be visually stunning, the shear skill and daring on display in this Nurk video impresses pilots and non-pilots. NOTE: watch until the end for this one.
#6 DIVE DIVE DIVE Vol. 2
When I think of epic flying I think of Mr. Steele, the pilot who produced this video. Mr. Steele is probably the most skilled pilot in FPV and produces some of the most polished content that you will find. This video is actually very new and I almost left it out because it hasn’t had a chance to age. But, these building dives, flawless performance, amazing editing and overall daring really encapsulate Mr. Steele. Most of us will never fly in a city block but I can guarantee all of us are dreaming of doing what Mr. Steele did here.
# 5 Space Glider – FPV to Space and Back!
Racing drones and capturing epic flight footage is only part of the FPV scene. This hobby has its roots in the DIY RC hobby that’s been around for a long time. Experimentation is a huge part of that and no one does all this better than David Windestal – the original mad scientist of FPV. David was one of the first people to experiment with FPV way before racing drones were a thing. In this video, he does this crazy experiment and tries to get his FPV plane into near space with a weather balloon. It leads to this crazy adventure and it’s just a truly unique video. I like this one because it highlights the tinkerer’s place in the hobby.
#4 Heaven’s Gate
Heaven’s Gate is one of those videos that you’ll eventually hear mentioned at the flight field. It has everything: a road trip, serendipitous adventure, the risk of drone loss, magically appearing music CDs and Chad Novak. This is one of the videos where you feel like you are right there with the guys. It’s hard to watch it even now without being on the edge of my seat worried that Chad will lose his quad in the deep desert because of this stunt. This is a hidden gem.
#3 I am Drone
This video really kinda shows you what FPV is like – as told by Ummagawd’s drone. It’s just fun and honestly sums up what FPV is like in 2019. Also, the winner of a drone film (or something like that) award.
#2 Chicken Sandwich
This video is a direct result of Chad Novak being triggered after he had enough of people bickering over the dangers of parallel charging batteries on Facebook. For those of you not in the know, the FPV hobby has a lot of drama around safely, batteries, flying “inappropriately” and just taking ourselves a little bit too seriously. Novak has a salty personality and seems to like to pick fights with the Facebook trolls and just generally gets himself in a lot of trouble.
So this video is a reaction to all the drama in the hobby, but it somehow ends up depicting the fun of FPV: guys getting together outside and doing a lot of stupid shit with grown-up toys.
#1 Ultimate Duga Dive
You don’t get more epic that diving a Cold War era nuclear missile detection system near Chernobyl with the top FPV pilots in the world. In this video you see Rotor Riot pilot Tommy get egged on and eventually attempt to dive the inside cage of this immense structure. This is the FPV experience but on an epic scale.
It’s impossible for me to watch Tommy make this attempt without my heart racing and the reactions of the other pilots are priceless.
It was hard to narrow down this list and I had to cut down a few notable videos to keep it to a nice clean 10 videos. Some other greats are Uncommon Friends, Fireworks on a Drone with Peter Sripol, Guns vs Drones, OniGiri and Skywards.
Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this list. I found it refreshing to take this tour back in time in our hobby. I saw most of these videos when I first started, in that mad rush to learn the hobby. You too probably remember those long nights combing through Joshua Bardwell videos to learn how to build your quad or looking over flight videos to see what is possible. Basically groping round in the dark. Things then were too frantic to really appreciate these videos and our culture. If this sounds like you, why not take a few minutes and rewatch some of these videos. It might be the perfect antidote to our Facebook dramas and a reminder of why we do all this.