Object of Desire: LA100

April 22, 2013

By Dan Havlik

Though the Federal Aviation Administration still doesn’t approve of photographers flying unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for commercial use without proper (and tough-to-acquire) authorization, that will change in 2015 when a new law opening the skies to more drones goes into effect. Whether or not you think that’s scary depends on if you’re a fan of using these flying whirligigs for aerial photography. The folks at France’s Lehmann Aviation clearly are whirligig proponents and their LA100 is quite the flying doohickey.

While it may look like a Cylon Raider from Battlestar Galactica, the LA100 is designed to be unintimidating and relatively inexpensive. Unlike those mini-helicopter-like drones, which need to be piloted from the ground by experts, the LA100 is a fully automated glider designed for amateurs to easily shoot aerial images or video.

The LA100 has been built, specifically, to carry a GoPro Hero3 camera on the top or bottom of the wing to shoot aerial footage. It can also fly with up to two GoPros at the same time. To prevent this UAV from going astray, the LA100 follows a preprogrammed flight path, which returns to the original launch site for a horizontal landing.

In other words, you can send this bird into the heavens where it will reach a maximum height of over 300 feet while shooting stills or HD video, and then it will circle back to you like a trained falcon. There’s no way to override the LA100’s planned flight pattern, which might frustrate more advanced UAV pilots, but makes it plug-and-play simple for beginners.

Price: $1,275 (does not include GoPro camera)