Walking our favorite local beach after a New Years Day gathering, Ene and I happened upon an odd young couple standing in the dunes, staring off into the distance, oblivious of their immediate surroundings. The guy was wearing what looked like ‘virtual reality’ goggles, and was manipulating a box studded with meters and toggles. His companion held a white plastic box up above her head like an offering to the sky. They appeared to be from the future. It was an oddly still day too, with many more people on the beach than usual, which added to the futuristic feeling as we made our way towards the rocks. Approaching the end of the beach, I noticed something flying in the distance, about 20 or 30 feet above ground, moving faster than the birds that frequent that shoreline. As Ene and I tried to spot it again, it whizzed by us in the dunes, and we realized it was being controlled by the cool young couple.
When we returned, the pair were still in the dunes where we began, so I asked about the whirligig, which had now landed and sat idly next to them in the sand, a kind of giant mechanical dragonfly. I asked if they had built it and the guy, who’s name is Francis Aitken, said he had and let me try on the goggles while he explained how it worked. Turns out it’s an open source ‘quadcopter’, which is essentially a remote-controlled, flying camera, and he was making a test flight. I gave Francis my card and asked that he keep in touch and send me the link to his test flight should he post it. He kindly obliged, and I was happy to see the footage the next day.