Gyaaaah! This DC-3 Is Flying WAY Too Low

You know you've been watching too much Top Gun when you find yourself skimming a few feet above the ground and mere inches above your cameraman in an antiquated aeroplane from the 1940's. Who exactly decided this was a good idea? Details on this low-flying stunt are pretty slim save for the assurance by the clip's creator that it was performed "at a private air strip no one around for miles and there was no dogs cats are birds harmed in the making of this video." Well, seems they'd really thought this through before trying it.

The plane performing the fly-by looks to be a Douglas C-47 Skytrain (a US military version of the DC-3 Dakota), the same sort of propeller-driven aircraft used extensively by the Allies throughout the Second World War to ferry troops and supplies. [Aviationist]


    " dogs cats are birds harmed in the making of this video.”

    But what about the squirrels?! Won't somebody please think of the squirrels?!

      To the Squirrels... I SAY NUTS TO THE SQUIRRELS!!

    I hope that he is caught and not only stripped of his license to fly but gaoled for violating about very important 12 laws that I can think off.

    Idiots like this don't deserve wings.

      Well, considering we don't see the whole video it is entirely possible he was taking off at this point. Technically he is perfectly legal to fly this low. Pretty sure this in the USA and as such FAA Regulations state:

      "Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes:
      (c) Over other than congested areas. An altitude of 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure. "

      So the low flying, no problem, having the dude recording apparently closer than 500feet (Once again, difficult to prove with zoom and all that sort of fun jazz), is what they did wrong.

      Also he may have a dispensation from the FAA, it could be practice for an Air Show or something like that.

      But please, let me know the other 11 "laws" you feel they have violated....

    Doesn't look authentic to me. The first clue was the propellers which should not be visible like that, and the 2nd clue is that just before reaching the photographer the propellers are only inches off the ground. It is also a windy day, as you can tell by the microphone noise, so it would make it extremely difficult to fly that low - over uneven terrain - in ground effect (riding a cushion of air), without hitting the ground. Also, the plane flying that close to the photographer would almost certainly knock him/her over, and there was no sign the photographer was affected by the wash at all.

    So, no I think it's a fake.

      I'm not saying you're wrong, but that's what rotors/propellers often look like on film. Check out some helicopter videos.

        Yep, this is correct, went into depth with it a little below. Dunno if I cleared it up any more though lol.

      - I'm not sure that it's all that windy. There's no particular sign that the vegetation is whipping backwards and forwards.
      - The photographer clearly sat, kneeled or squatted shortly before the plane flew by, and equally clearly stood up again afterwards.
      - There is some blurring on the propellers. The fact that you can "see" the props turning does not signify; the rotation rate of the props may have been close to the frame rate of the camera. If they used a high-speed film (or decent quality CCD) the effect would be similar to what is shown.

      So it's dubious, but plausible.

      What's definite is that the photographer was taking his life into his hands...

        That's what got me too; as dangerous as it is to fly that low in a plane like that, standing underneath it is worse than Russian roulette; a crosswind at the last minute and you'd get hit by the prop. Anyone remember that scene in Catch-22?

        Especially when you consider the low price of a tripod and a couple of sand-bags.

        Last edited 05/01/14 11:30 pm

      I think you will find this is entirely real, it is a C47 known as "Sky King", Registration N5106X flying in the US.

      The Props are exactly what I'd expect to see on a film and have seen a number of times in the videos I take myself from the cockpit! You'll also find that the props were more than just "Inches off the ground" looks closer to a few feet to me, around 5 I'd say.

      And the C47 is a heavy aircraft, it would take more than a breeze to knock it about and I think you'll find there wasn't much breeze about on this particular day, just cause you can hear a wind noise on the mic doesn't mean there is heaps around!!

      Also, "Uneven terrain"? Are you kidding me? That looked like a reasonably nice Airstrip to me, I've taken off and landed on FAR worse than that before. I've also done low level "Beat ups" to scare off various animals not much higher than this without any real difficulties and in much lighter aircraft.

      Pretty fun bit of flying if you ask me :D

      I grew up on an airforce base, Fairbairne in Canberra, Sale Raaf base, 1CAMD in Sydney and Amberly in Qld. Growing up on these bases, film was quite often taken of the planes taking off and landing, especially the Hercules aircraft, for training purposes. I've seen a lot of that film, through Dad, (back then it was on a projector, w00t for the olden days!)

      The propellers always showed up like that on film. It's got to do with the fact they're spinning too fast for the film to visually capture with its shutter speed. Film generally runs at 24fps on average (sometimes a little higher), but won't capture the exact speed of a propeller. What you're actually seeing is the momentary captures of the positions of the propellers, not an actual smooth movement. Quite often, it will actually look like the propeller is moving *backwards* when infact it's quite the opposite.

      TLDR? It's not fake, it's the shutter speed of the camera not keeping up with the rotor on the plane which is far too fast for it. They flew large planes this low in WW2 to keep below radar level regularly.

      Also, after watching a few times, I'm still not convinced it might not be a high quality RC model... some of those aviation model nuts go ALL out and I've seen some amazing 10 foot wingspan B17s in my time.

      Last edited 06/01/14 12:33 am

      Looks authentic enough to me. There is barely any wind, as evidenced by the glassy body of water to the right. The sound is spot on. The ground effect would have been even and predictable due to the even terrain!!?! (could have almost landed in that area).

      And propellers -

      I also think it is fake as it looks like the plane is moving FAR too slowly to maintain lift, and the lighting on the craft looks wrong. They went to a lot of trouble to replicate the Stroboscopic effect on the props, but its either a 3d model (very likely) , or a scale model (less likely).

      That said at 360p who can tell as crap quality masks most of it.. Most of the other videos the user uploaded look completely legit. This one has a bypass of another plane on an actual runway, and its speed seems to be significantly faster than the one in the main video.

    As somebody who has regular access to flying C-47's I'm convinced that this is real. This is very low though. I don't think any of the C-47 pilots that I know would attempt such a thing but I can believe this video.

    No, this is not a fake as I mentioned above, I think you will find this is entirely real, it is a C47 (Actually, technically, a DC3C) known as "Sky King", Registration N5106X flying in the US.

    What a freaking awesome looking aircraft.

    I think you will find this is a model aircraft, possibly with the sound effects added to the video. If you look as it passes by, there is a missing windo pane on the front windscreen, and the fuselage is also missing the shaping used on metal, especially on the tail (vertical stabalizer). See photo here:

    Looking at the distance to the trees, in the background as the camera pans, I would estimate that this is a large model, of approximately 10ft wingspan. It is possible that the engine sound is real as they would be quite large, and would explain the lower speed of the pass by also.

    So its a real flyby, just there is no pilot in the plane. He is probably on the ground behind the camera.

    EDIT: here is a real DC-3 low pass - difference in Engine sound is interesting.
    And here is a not so low pass, with a surprisingly similar amount of wind and engine noise to the video above:

    Me thinks that the audio from this clip was put over the video of the one above...

    Last edited 07/01/14 1:31 pm

      The cockpit windshield isn't missing, just looks that way at certain angles. The link you provided actually has the EXACT aircraft that is flying in this clip, DC3C "Sky King".

      If you do the basic physics and trigonometry and sound, it doesn't make any sense as a model. The dynamics are all wrong for a model. Recreating flight as a model (for a fake) is actually Really difficult, the Spielbergs etc. have trouble.

      It just wouldn't be possible to do this without a lot of computers and whizz kids that wouldn't warrant the return on an anonymous youtube video...

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