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It’s not often something new comes along which can really help your precision aerobatic flying. Have you checked out Flight Coach? This is a revolutionary system using cheap(ish) multi-rotor flight control hardware to log flights, for later analysis using the Flight Coach ‘plotter’.

Flight Coach started as an idea by Thomas David, a top UK IMAC and F3A pilot. Could the fusion of a GPS, cheap multirotor flight control board, and some fancy computer analysis result in flight analysis which would be a useful coaching aid? The answer was a resounding yes! Of course, such a project was going to be quite complicated. Artur Uzieblo, an Australian F3A pilot came aboard with a vast knowledge of programming skills. Andrew Palmer (New Zealand F3A pilot) organised ideas and developed hardware systems. Russell Edwards (Australian F3A pilot) has been involved in system testing and wrote the plotter manual.

At the heart of the system is an advanced sensor fusion algorithm that can extend the GPS based positioning with inertial navigation to deliver a smooth and accurate flight path and attitude log with 15-25 points per second. This compares to 1-2 per second (with no attitude information) of a typical GPS only system. This data is recorded in the model on micro-SD card. Then the web browser-based Flight Coach software – which is free to use – provides post-flight analysis. The Flight Coach system does not remove the difficulty of F3A, but it does function as a valuable training aid to allow post flight analysis with some objective data on model flight path.

Getting up and running with the hardware can be a bit daunting. If you need a hand, give me (Andrew Palmer) a ring on 021-976665. You will need an Ardupilot compatible flight control board (with SD writer) and GPS/compass. More expensive options are almost plug and play – like the Cube Black or Holybro Pixhawk4 mini + GPS. Cheaper options need some soldering and more configuration – such as an OmniBusF4 + cheap N8M GPS from ebay. The quality of the data from all systems I have used seems identical.