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Ribcracker
09-22-2006, 02:35 AM
This story was in today's Detroit Free Press. It had lots of photos of the man, his plane, his family, and photos he had taken of Tiger Stadium, Michigan Stadium, Detroit Yacht Club, etc.
The press gave the story a positive spin, even though he flies in populated areas. That's a good thing.
Published: September 21. 2006 3:00AM
Metro Detroit

MOTOR CITY JOURNAL: Scene from above

Internet takes metro Detroit doctor's hobby to new heights
September 21, 2006

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BY BILL McGRAW


Someone with the screen name of hammydude has been flying a model plane -- equipped with a camera -- above Grosse Pointe, Tiger Stadium, the Detroit Yacht Club, the University of Michigan's stadium (when it was empty) and the Michigan Central Depot.
Then he posts video from his friendly drone's flyovers on the Internet.
The resulting images are intriguing, informative and fun, even if occasional turbulence shakes the camera and makes your stomach do somersaults.
Turns out, though, the person behind the project is hardly a teenager with lots of free time.
He is a highly regarded physician, Mitchell Dombrowski, chief of obstetrics and gynecology at St. John Hospital & Medical Center in Detroit and a professor at the Wayne State University School of Medicine.
"I just do it totally for fun," Dombrowski said.
One day recently, in Balduck Park on Detroit's far east side, the doctor, 53, was running across the grass, his graying hair blowing in the wind, a yellow plane in his hand. He threw it into the air with the motion of someone chucking a spear.
The plane wobbled a bit, but stabilized and surged skyward, quickly gaining altitude. It was soon a speck, flying several hundred feet above the homes and businesses along the Detroit-Grosse Pointe border.
"It's a little windy up there. I'm throttling back now," Dombrowski said as he gently touched a toggle on a black control box. His wife, Jocelyn, and sons David, 15, and Michael, 22, watched. Two daughters were elsewhere.
"I'm the only one in my family geeky enough to do this," Dombrowski said, chuckling, though the boys assist him in various ways.
His equipment includes a battery-powered, radio-controlled Fly Dragon plane that weighs less than 1 1/2 pounds. The camera is a Pentax Optio S5z that shoots 30 frames a second. Dombrowski put it inside an empty Altoids mints tin with a hole cut for the lens. Using popsicle sticks and the precision of a surgeon, he glued the tin to the underside of a wing. He calls the arrangement "silly, brute engineering."
For safety reasons, the plane has its prop on the rear of its single wing, and he's careful to keep it away from people.
The plane and camera cost a total of about $350, and it was the price and evolving technology that made Dombrowski realize the time was right for this hobby. He installed a brushless motor and lithium polymer batteries and experimented until he found the right propeller.
"The electronics are incredible now," he said. "Two, three years ago you wouldn't have had motors this good and cheap."
Dombrowski, not surprisingly, has been tinkering for years. As a kid in Oak Park, he filled vacuum-cleaner bags with methane, which turned them into heavy-duty balloons, attached a camera and shot photos of his neighborhood. Since becoming a doctor who specializes in problem pregnancies, he has obtained 11 patents for various medical devices.
"He's very high energy," said Jocelyn, his wife of 25 years. "He's always doing something. He fixes everything -- electrical, plumbing, jewelry. He loves challenges."
Beth McKeown, the medical staff liaison at St. John, said: "He's brilliant in all kinds of facets. He can come across as a nerdy brainiac, but he's engaging, fun and compassionate toward patients."
It was son David's idea to upload his father's images to Google Video. David is the hammydude of Hammydude.com, and he said he is surprised that people are watching and reacting to the family's shows.
Like one viewer, who, after watching the flight over Tiger Stadium, posted: "That goes beyond merely awesome to become INSPIRING!"
After flying and filming at Balduck, Dombrowski put on the video at his Grosse Pointe Farms home. Up popped footage of the densely packed trees and homes on either side of Mack Avenue.
Said Dombrowski: "We typically come back here and watch it. And we laugh."

legodude
10-19-2006, 06:24 PM
He may fly in populated areas, but the plane is less dangerous than say a softball or baseball. Soft foam wings, soft plastic body, pusher prop, slow speeds etc. Furthermore, if you look at the videos there is a noticeable lack of people on the ground in the flight area. In any case, are we the only people to consider dodgeplane a fun sport....
Regards
Mike

Ribcracker
10-19-2006, 08:47 PM
I'm with you, pal. And I think dodgeplane is great fun.
This post was in response to a fellow in Ann Arbor who got into a lot of trouble for flying his camera plane (SlowStick, I think) over a football stadium during a game. Sure, it was dumb. But the press really butchered him and made him out to be public enemy number one. And that caused a ripple of alarm through the rc community. I just wanted to show that the press can spin either way.
Peace!

firemanbill
10-19-2006, 10:03 PM
I agree... any good press we get is great!

I wonder though... if this guy was not a respected Doc in that area and was some teenage kid would they still have given him such good press?

I would like to think so.:D

legodude
10-19-2006, 11:52 PM
They thought he was a teenage kid at first and were still quite enthusiastic about the story...
Mike

firemanbill
10-20-2006, 12:52 AM
Yeah I saw that, that's what promprted the question... Maybe I'm a bit pessimistic but my thought was they hear about some guy flying this gadget, thinks it;s a kid and go to investigate... turns out to be this big time Doc.

I get my pessimism from the way the a lot of the press, not all of them but a lot of them tend to print whatever they dang well please. I have a very good friens who is an avid gun collector. He must have over 300 of them from antiques to Glocks. a bit of everything. Well the local cops were doing this turn in guns for food thing at a local grocery store, if you brought them any gun, working or not, they gave you a $50 certificate to buy groceries. He had this old broke revolver that would never see live ammo again so he figures what the heck... free food. He gives it to his wife to take to the turn in and the local TV station interviews her. She talks about how they love to hunt, how he loves gun collecting and such... they asked her why she was turning it the gun and she told them about getting the free food and the gun was broken and would be dangerous if they tried to fix it so...

That night on the evening news lead in the only part of the whole story thaty she told them was the part of her saying the gun was dangerous! then they went on to talk about how bad guns were and how dangerous they could be ond how everyone should get rid of them... Man they were both MAD!

anyway I'm ranting...

Bottom line it was a good story!

TeslaWinger
10-20-2006, 01:34 AM
There's no news like good news. Glad to see that the best among us also consider it a fun, safe and interesting thing to do. To the newzies airplanes should only get mentioned when they crash. Leaves more time for bad news...

A local aerial digi-still camera flyer got a nice spread a few months ago in the Sunday color edition, so its possible to get some good press as long as good judgement is evident- and assuming they don't do a hatchet job on ya to suit their agenda. Don't give 'em a reason!

ForestCam
10-20-2006, 02:05 AM
Really like his "Michigan State Capitol" vid. Ment to do that this summer but I never got around to it. My idea was to fly off the top of one of the parking garages though.

He got a real good shot of the power station stacks I caught from 5 miles away too :D