Apocalypse anytime you want

Posted by Tony Dennis

You never knew you wanted your own personal miniature helicopter until you’ve flown a DraganFlyer X6. It's so easy to control it's unbelievable.


The X6 isn't really a boys' toy – it's a serious device aimed at taking the best aerial photography possible. That's why it's offered with a choice of no fewer than four different camera cradles.


These range from a thermal video camera to a 10 megapixel still camera. The best camera in the world won't be able to take a decent photo if the helicopter is moving all over the place, of course.


That's why the DraganFlyer is packed full of gadgets. It's not just got a barometric pressure sensor but the X6 also packs a GPS receiver so that its software can keep the helicopter in a precise position.


I love the smell of aerial photography in the morning


There are other drones and miniature helicopters available but what appears to make the X6 so easy to fly is the fact that boasts no fewer than six contra-rotating rotors.


The X6 isn't by any stretch of the imagination cheap, however. An entry-level system will set you back around £12,500 courtesy of Air2air which is importing the helicopters into Europe. And you can hire one as well.


As far as TG Daily can tell, in the UK you don't need a pilot's licence to operate one, although if you intend to fly one above 100 feet in the vicinity of an airport – such as Heathrow – you have to inform air traffic control.


The X6 is very light (1 Kg/ 350 oz) and can carry a 0.5 Kg (18 oz) payload. It's pretty fast, too. The top speed is 30 mph and it can climb at 23 feet/second.


It all sounds like it's too good to be true. There are, of course, a couple of catches. One is battery life since the device can only fly on a single charge for about 20 minutes.


The second snag is control. The X6 is basically operated remotely via a Wi-Fi connexion and so effectively you need to have line of sight to control it properly.


If you should lose it, however, the GPS receiver helps you track it down. The operating console effectively has a black-box capability which will record the 'copter's last known location.


Besides photography, there are plenty of government style applications – the Montreal police have a DraganFlyer, for example.


Air2air kept pretty quiet about possible military applications. TG Daily reckons that it would be very easy to attach a rocket launcher to this helicopter.


Oops. If GCHQ is reading this, we're only joking. Honest.