San Francisco-based tech director Jason Muscat wanted to give his girlfriend, Christina, a “crazy-ass proposal” that she would never forget. After all the hubbub surrounding personal drones this year, an idea began to formulate in his mind: have the ring flown in aboard an R/C copter!
He told Christina that he wanted to take photos of her in their neighborhood park, Alamo Square Park in San Francisco. But he was actually recording video of her reaction as an R/C hexacopter zoomed in to land next to her, with the ring box, containing the real ring, firmly strapped on top.
Like any crazy scheme, it’s always best to involve friends and family in the fun. He asked his cousin to design the ring, and his R/C copter-enthusiast friend found a skilled R/C pilot and photographer to play drone ring bearer by posting the request on an RC message board.
The pilot, Fresno-based Chris Geiger, is actually a licensed full-size aircraft pilot who has been working with R/C aircraft for a few years and has accumulated 170+ hours of multirotor flight time in the past two years. For the proposal he used a four-pound DJI F550 hexacopter with AeroXcraft landing gear, and there were a total of five cameras capturing the event:
- The camera Jason is holding
- An 808 #16 camera in his pocket, to record audio
- A GoPro Hero 3 camera on the underside of the hexacopter
- Another 808 #16 camera on the top of the hexacopter, to record the “ring box view”
- Another camera recording a second angle, on the ground
During the planning process, Jason had planned to fly a fake ring in the box on the hexacopter, and then pull the fake ring out of the box and switch it for the real one in his pocket, with his back turned. But, says Chris, “My plan was to shoot this with the camera view through the ring box, and it needed to be the real ring the whole time or it would be noticed in the video when he pulled the ring out.”
So the plan changed to flying the real ring.
The Moment of Truth
Jason and Chris used Google Earth and Maps to help plan hiding places and flying distances. The day before, they did a walkthrough to figure out timing and identify the exact landing spot.
Everything was coming together, but despite all the careful planning, nerves kicked in right before the moment of truth. Chris says:
When I was getting ready to put the ring in the box on top of the Hexacopter, I suddenly got a nervous feeling. I don’t know why, but I felt worried about the box opening in flight. Even though the box was securely fastened to the top and the lid closed firmly, I felt the need to add some black electrical tape around the box to hold the lid down tight. I hope the added tape was not too much of a surprise for him. In the video you can see him pull the tape back before opening the box.
When all was said and done, Jason was pleased with the result: “In the end, it all came off perfectly. Christina was delighted and we have this great memory to look back on for the rest of our lives,” he writes.
Chris’ favorite moment? “When the hexacopter touched down and I locked the transmitter controls. I don’t know how much that pretty little ring cost, but I was glad to see it safely on the ground!”
See all of our Valentine’s Day coverage here.