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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Advice on Mounting GoPro to Airplane
John Schreiber, Photographer, Assistant
Redondo Beach | CA | USA | Posted: 1:07 PM on 06.10.13
->> I poked around the message boards but couldn't find anything on the topic.

I am working on a story about a local stunt pilot and was thinking about mounting my GoPro somewhere on the aircraft while he is performing. I am curious if anyone has had any success using GoPro's suction cup mount on a plane.

I have used the suction cup on cars traveling at 120+ mph before without any problems but am worried that changes in air pressure may affect the suction while on a plane. I know GoPro says the mount has been tested (but not officially approved) to speeds of 200+ mph on planes but would still like to know if it has worked for anyone.

I figure I could also tether the camera and mount to a tie down point on the plane but then my worry is the camera is going to flap around in the wind and beat up the plane if it comes loose.

If worst comes to worst, I can just mount it inside the cockpit, but thought I would see what others have done in the past first.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer, Photo Editor
PLANET | EARTH | | Posted: 1:47 PM on 06.10.13
->> John, I didn't have time to go back and research this but if you do a quick search on the internet there was a huge discussion about gopro's suction cup mount being a bad choice for many of it's applications. from what I got according to a lot of the VERY angry comments the mount is subject to failure quite often when used on aircraft. I would check into another type of mount. I read about some special mounts that are actually milled to fit over certain size bolts on the plane and then can be tightened with a wrench....also, your concerns about tethering the camera are valid....apparently if the cup comes loose and the camera is tethered it will beat the crap out of the plane....not to mention the camera....good luck.
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Robert Longhitano, Photographer, Photo Editor
Philadelphia | PA | USA | Posted: 1:47 PM on 06.10.13
->> John, check this link out it will give you a little info. hopefully other will chime in

http://sportys.tumblr.com/post/42926333172/gopro-quick-start-guide-for-pilo...

the info you want is in the "Mounting" section
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Robert Longhitano, Photographer, Photo Editor
Philadelphia | PA | USA | Posted: 1:52 PM on 06.10.13
->> BTW sear clear of airports that have a FSDO on site. The pilot will know what I'm talking about ..wink..
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Mike Isler, Photographer, Assistant
New York | NY | US | Posted: 2:15 PM on 06.10.13
->> John, the legality of mounting anything to the exterior of a certified (not experimental) plane must be carefully considered by the pilot. It's not as simple as just sticking it on the side and taking off.

Regarding tethering the camera, don't do it. If the camera comes loose, it would be a greater danger to have it flapping around then to drop to the ground.

Here are some past links:
http://www.sportsshooter.com/message_display.html?tid=13611
http://www.sportsshooter.com/message_display.html?tid=32265 (read this one carefully)
http://web.archive.org/web/20090225213930/http://markjrebilas.com/blog/2009/02/my-new-nikon-d700-goes-on-an-aerial-adventure/ (the blog post referenced in the previous thread)

There are numerous pilots on this board, myself included. Most will advise not to do external mounts cavalierly. Before researching mounts and methods, speak to the pilot first.
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Philip Johnson, Photographer
Garland | TX | USA | Posted: 4:54 PM on 06.10.13
->> John, you've been given some god advice here, I would suggest you contact Jim Koepnick at the EAA. He is a member on Sportsshooter. Give him a call I'm sure he would be happy to help you out.
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Thomas Derr, Photographer
Madison | WI | US | Posted: 5:12 PM on 06.10.13
->> Is the plane a Cessna by chance? As others have said, mounting on the exterior has challenges, both physically and legally. It can be done, a Cessna (high wing) will offer the best mounting options on the strut. I'd just look for interior mounting options with the wide lens of the GoPro.

(actually if this is an acrobatic plane for stunt work, it likely is not a Cessna)
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John Schreiber, Photographer, Assistant
Redondo Beach | CA | USA | Posted: 6:21 PM on 06.10.13
->> Thanks everyone all for the advice, links etc. Much appreciated.

Mike- the plane is an experimental aircraft... An F1 Rocket.

And of course, none of this will happen unless the pilot says yes, but thought I would at least do some thorough research and pick some minds before I ask. I imagine I will just end up mounting in the cockpit, but always worth it to ask!
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 7:11 PM on 06.10.13
->> Suction cups "may" work on a smooth ride but since the pilot is a stunt type any "G" forces will rip that puppy right off.

Back in the mid-70s I mounted a Nikon F with motordrive on a WWI Sopwith Camel airplane that was going to perform a dogfight with the Red Baron for a National Geographic kid magazine story. I used a fabricated aluminum bracket that was mounted with bolts already in the tail; substituting the 1/2-inch ones for 1" to accommodate the plate. The camera was then mounted to the plate. Nothing was going to move it. The trigger wire was run through the fuselage to the plane's gun so when the pilot fired at the Red Baron he also fired the camera. Since he would only open up when the enemy was it the gun site I had the Red Baron positioned in all 36 Kodachrome frames. The images turned out great.

The lesson taught me by the NGS custom camera shop crew who helped me was to figure out what you think would do the trick and then over-engineer it by 5x. A similar setup was done for another Geographic story on flight years later where a camera was mounted on the tail of a huge airliner. That bracket was mounted at a 15-degree angle so when the jet banked 15 degrees to line up on its final approach the earth's horizon was level.
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Mark Perlstein, Photographer, Photo Editor
Plano | TX | USA | Posted: 8:51 PM on 06.10.13
->> Back in 1982, I mounted a remote camera using Bogen clamp and gaffer tape to a raised wing plane. The Gaffer Tape removed paint from the plane and the owner was not too happy. The Gaffer Tape is clearly visible in the photo. The photo ran double truck in Sports Illustrated and is in the Lifestyle Gallery on my Website.
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Steven E. Frischling, Photographer
New England | | | Posted: 11:11 PM on 06.10.13
->> Search the Experimental Aircraft Association forums. Mounting GoPro cameras has been discussed many times - www.eaaforums.org
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Mike Anzaldi, Photographer
Oak Park | IL | USA | Posted: 11:02 AM on 06.11.13
->> the shots would be awesome, and you'd very likely have no problems. however, if it does pop off and strike a control surface at the back of the aircraft, you could crash and die.

i almost choked on my fruit roll-up when one of our radio engineers a few years back wanted to glue a magnetic base antenna to our TV helicopter for a flight. seriously, i almost choked to death.
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Thread Title: Advice on Mounting GoPro to Airplane
Thread Started By: John Schreiber
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