Video goggles allow Mitchell to see from the perspective of his quadcopter.
Few people have been able to visit the former home of the Virginia Renaissance Faire in Fredericksburg, Va., and with good reason. Since it was closed in 1999, the site has been leased out to local hunting groups, which makes it dangerous for anybody without a bright orange vest.
Dangerous for everybody but Joseph David Mitchell of Lake Ridge, Va., that is, who was able to capture some amazing bird's eye footage of the site from a distance with his custom-built drone.
Mitchell flies a quadcopter — think of a helicopter with four smaller rotors instead of one big one. He uses a first-person view (FPV) rig, which allows him to pilot the quadcopter remotely using an on-board camera that feeds footage wirelessly to video goggles. It's the next best thing to flying over yourself.
"Seeing this abandoned site from the air, I realized this
area was very dangerous and even creepier," Mitchell says. "I had heard others talk about
visiting this place on foot, however I was not interested going on foot —
way too creepy."
Dangerous or not, the crumbling facades of the Virginia Renaissance Faire continue to attract photographers looking for a good shot. There's even a Flickr photo group dedicated to the ruins.
It's not hard to see why. The crumbling grounds feature several buildings that resemble castles, a jousting field and even a faux-pirate ship.
With a range of three miles, Mitchell's quadcopter is able to get just as close as adventurers on foot — and without trespassing or getting covered in ticks. But Mitchell says it's not for everybody.
"I make it look very easy after years of time to perfect my FPV craft," Mitchell says. "I would not recommend anyone try anything this advanced right away."
For more aerial videos from around Northern Virginia, you can visit Mitchell's YouTube page.