Thread: Discussion Flyguy
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Old Jun 25, 2013, 11:04 AM
Otto Dieffenbach is offline
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United States, CA, San Diego
Joined Aug 2011
2,884 Posts
Here is a summary of Monday's activities.

Jimmy Kimmel Live (JKL): The Flying Guillermo Saga Continues

I was asked to build a Flying Guillermo by a JKL producer back in January. Guillermo was delivered to Hollywood in early April with expectations of flying him on the show that day. Nothing happened, although Ed Hanley and I enjoyed a great behind the scenes tour and some food from their daily spread. When we left, we thought we’d never hear from JKL again.

Last Thursday, I received a panic call from one of the Associate Producers and several emails from the props department. The writers had developed a bit for the evening show and one of the staff volunteered, or was volunteered, to fly Guillermo. They went to a local park and flew into a tree with reports that he would not turn left. In my discussions it was hard to get a consistent story as to what had happened, how he handled in the air and his present condition. I offered to drive up and get him flying for the show. Yesterday, Monday, was chosen.

Ed and I drove up, leaving San Diego at 5 am. We were really in the dark as to Guillermo’s condition or how they intended to use him. We were under the impression that they wanted to employ him for the show Monday evening. I collected all the stuff I could think of for repairs, sent out notifications via email, rcgroups and facebook and Ed volunteered to assist and drive. I also laid out a plan for Monday to maximize the probability of success.

We arrive at JKL around 0730. Chris Towle, greeted us and led us to Guillermo. Guillermo had been roughed up but Chris had made some good repairs. The major item of concern and the reason he would not fly well appeared to be his warped feet. It looked like he had been stored standing on his Depron feet and they were both warped significantly. I had brought some carbon stiffeners and put a 10” splint in each foot. With the feet repaired, binding/trimming to our DX7 (not their DX5) and some gluing here and there we were ready to fly.

In late March I had scouted locations around Hollywood for capturing video. One spot was the Hollywood High baseball field right behind the JKL El Capitan Theater and the other was overlooking the Hollywood lake with the Hollywood sign in the background. About 8 of us, led by the shows Director, headed out to the lake for flight testing. Almost everybody was grumpy from having to be up so early in the morning. Well the flight test was a non event; he flew great. The video crew captured many flybys with the Hollywood sign, the LA skyline and the lake’s dam as background. The mood significantly changed with laughter, grins and chuckles. The landing surface is hard and rough so some minor damage occurred on landing. This was quickly repaired back at the theater.

Now our attention was set on rehearsal. The baseball field was all torn up and had bulldozers working on it all day. The JKL people had wanted to fly from the back parking lot where the musical guest entertains at the end of the show. The lot is very small and has several lighting and camera scaffolding towers 30 ft tall with guide wires for stability. After assessing the environment, we elected to try a stage launch clearing a support wire and flying between two towers. We also agreed that the best flight path would be flying a left hand kidney bean shaped race track pattern. The kidney bean shape was to avoid the central lighting/camera tower and two 75 ft palm trees while maintaining line of sight to Guillermo. Landing options boiled down to landing in front of the stage. The open area was about 75 ft square requiring me to fly between two 30’ scaffolds and over a 15’ billboard structure on the area’s edge and onto a mock runway 10’ by about 30’. I thought that if we survived the launch that I’d climb and fly the kidney pattern a while, reducing altitude to get comfortable and then try the landing. I also thought that Ed would launch for me. Well, I was wrong. They asked us to teach the real Guillermo to launch the Flying Guillermo and I would have only one time around and then land. I had real visions of the 2 pound Guillermo flying into the scaffolding or getting wrapped up in support wires.

Meeting and teaching Guillermo to launch was a joy but no matter how much you practice a person’s first real hand launch it is almost always an adventure. We worked out with the Stage Director and crew the commands and assumed our positions. Jimmy was located on the indoor stage and this bit was part of his monolog. Everybody but Ed and I could hear what Jimmy was saying. This was also the first time we actually began to understand the bit. Jimmy was addressing the drone surveillance program and discussed the JKL drone program cutting to Guillermo on the outdoor stage. Guillermo showed Jimmy his Guillermo drone (Flyguy) and then put the Flying Guillermo over his head for launch. He also had my extra transmitter to pretend to fly the drone after launch. Jimmy gave Guillermo the go and I throttled up and Guillermo launched. He launched a little nose high (preferred) and between the two scaffolds he flew. Guillermo and Jimmy continued to dialog with a lot of laughter, so I am told. I was worried about obstacles. I turned 10 degrees right and then about a 180 left, flew back over the central scaffold turning 110 degrees right, executed a 180 left to the approach path, cleared the billboard by 3’ and landed on the right edge of the mock runway….. I then inhaled.

After some minor repairs we were ready for primetime. Wrong again. We were informed that everybody loved the bit but the timing which would have worked Thursday was wrong for Monday’s show. They asked us to be on call so that they can use the bit on a future show. Ed and I were both a little put out and it took us quite a while to understand. They had gotten what they wanted, validation that the bit, or one similar could be done. They also have a lot of video for use and promotion. I think we surprised them with what was possible.

Flying a 2 pound foamie, with a shrouded propeller, can be done safely in this kind of environment. The only real risk is to the foamie itself and million dollar video cameras.
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