Is ‘1970 in Aviation’ the Most Fascinating Page on Wikipedia?

I put it to you, Greg, what is the most fascinating page in Wikipedia? If you've ever gone deep down a Wiki rabbit hole, you probably have your own list of weird-crazy-interesting entries under benign headers (and, please, feel free to share in the comments), but here's my vote: "1970 in Aviation," a thrilling day-by-day account of all the aviation happs in 1970. With near daily entries, it's got it all: hijackings, crashes, military deployments in Vietnam, cool airlines you've never heard of (Interflug, for example, the official airline of East Berlin), great quotes, and all the drama and suspense of a season of M*A*S*H.

Here, some high points. Everything in quotes is ripped directly from the page on Wikipedia under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike License, and you can find the full entry right here.

January 4, 1970

"Fascinated with the kind of communism practiced in Albania under its leader Enver Hoxha, 18-year-old Mariano Ventura Rodriguez pulls out a toy pistol aboard an Iberia Convair CV-240 ten minutes before it lands at Zaragoza, Spain, after a domestic flight from Madrid. He demands to be flown to Albania. When the airliner lands at Zaragoza, Spanish soldiers armed with submachine guns surround it. During negotiations between Rodriguez and the police, the local police chief tells him that he will be "shot at dawn" if anything happens to any of the plane?s passengers or crew, prompting Rodriguez to surrender peacefully soon afterward."

January 6, 1970

"Anton Funjek, a 41-year-old Yugoslav man on probation for threatening President Richard Nixon, pulls out a knife and grabs a stewardess aboard Delta Air Lines Flight 274, a Douglas DC-9 with 65 people aboard flying from Orlando to Jacksonville, Florida, and demands to be flown to Switzerland. The captain makes a deliberately hard landing at Jacksonville International Airport to throw Funjek off balance, and three passengers overpower him when he stumbles."

January 8, 1970

"To protest an Israeli military operation that resulted in the capture of several Lebanese nationals, Christian Bellon, armed with two handguns and a rifle, hijacks Trans World Airlines Flight 802, a Boeing 707 with 20 people on board flying from Paris to Rome, and demands to be flown to Damascus, Syria, spraying the airliner?s instrument panel with gunfire to emphasize how serious he is. After the airliner lands in Rome to refuel, Bellon changes his mind and demands that the plane fly him to Beirut, Lebanon, instead. When the airliner lands at Beirut International Airport, Bellon surrenders to Lebanese police, who slap him across the face several times."

January 22, 1970

"Pan American World Airways begins the world's first wide-body airliner service, introducing the first Boeing 747 into service on the New York-London route."

February 16, 1970

"Flying with his wife, 10-year-old daughter, and eight-year-old son aboard Eastern Airlines Flight 1 – a Boeing 727 flying from Newark, New Jersey to Miami, Florida, with 104 people on board – Daniel Lopez jumps up with a flaming "Molotov cocktail" and a pistol equipped with a crude bayonet when the airliner is 80 miles south of Wilmington, North Carolina, shouts "Viva Cuba!" and demands to be flown to Havana, Cuba. The flight crew agrees to fly him there as long as he extinguishes his Molotov cocktail. Lopez and his family disembark at Havana, and the airliner returns to the United States after about five hours on the ground in Havana. An investigation reveals that Eastern Airlines did not screen any of the passengers boarding the flight."

February 17-18, 1970

"United States Air Force Boeing B-52 Stratofortresses attack Laos."

February 25, 1970

"Trans World Airlines inaugurates scheduled nonstop Boeing 747 service between Los Angeles, California, and New York City, thus becoming the first airline to offer domestic Boeing 747 service in the United States."

March 10, 1970

"A young husband and wife, Eckhard and Christel Wehage, hijack an Interflug Antonov An-24 with 15 other passengers on board during a domestic flight in East Germany from East Berlin to Leipzig, demanding to be flown to Hanover, West Germany. The pilot claims not to have enough fuel to reach Hanover, so the Wehages agree to land at Tempelhof Airport in West Berlin. When the plane lands at Schönefeld Airport in East Berlin instead, the Wehages commit suicide."

March 17, 1970

"Unable to pay his fare aboard Eastern Air Lines Flight 1340 – a Douglas DC-9-31 (registration N8925E) with 73 people on board operating a shuttle service from Newark, New Jersey, to Boston, Massachusetts – John DiVivo pulls out .38-caliber revolver and orders the pilot to "just fly east until we run out of gas." After about 15 minutes, the captain convinces DiVivo that the airliner will crash into the Atlantic Ocean soon if it does not refuel. Although DiVivo approves a refueling stop, he shoots both pilots when they start to turn the plane. A struggle ensues in the cockpit, during which the mortally wounded copilot knocks the revolver from DiVivo?s hand and the captain, despite serious wounds in both arms, picks it up and shoots DiVivo in the chest. The captain then lands the DC-9 at Logan International Airport in Boston, where DiVivo is arrested. The copilot is the first pilot killed in a U.S. hijacking. DiVivo hangs himself in his jail cell on October 31."

March 28, 1970

"A United States Navy F-4J Phantom II fighter of Fighter Squadron 142 (VF-142) shoots down a North Vietnamese MiG-21 fighter. It is the only American air-to-air kill in the Vietnam War between September 1968 and January 1971."

April 22, 1970

"Twenty-six-year-old Ira David "Orrie" Meeks and his 17-year-old girlfriend hire pilot Boyce Stradley to take them on a sightseeing flight in a Cessna 172 over Gastonia, North Carolina, during which Meeks pulls a gun on Stradley and orders him to fly them to Cuba so that Meeks can "get away from racism in the United States." During the 11-hour trip to Havana, Cuba, the plane makes refueling stops at Rock Hill, South Carolina, Jacksonville, Florida (where Meeks requests but is denied a bottle of Scotch whisky, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Upon arrival in Cuba, Meeks and his girlfriend are arrested, and Stradley flies back to a hero?s welcome in Gastonia."

May 14, 1970

"A man without a ticket boards an Ansett Australia Douglas DC-9-31 at Kingsford Smith Airport in Sydney, Australia, as it prepares for a domestic flight to Brisbane, brandishes a revolver, and demands that the airliner fly him out of Sydney. After talking to a clergyman, he surrenders, and his revolver turns out to be a toy gun."

May 20, 1970

"The Tupolev Tu-144 becomes the first commercial transport to reach Mach 2."

May 26, 1970

"Operation Menu, the 14-month-long covert American bombing campaign by B-52 Stratofortresses against North Vietnamese Army sanctuaries in Cambodia, comes to an end. The B-52s have flown 3,800 sorties and dropped 108,823 tons (98,723,578 kg) of munitions during the campaign."

June 4, 1970

"Angry over the refusal of the United States Supreme Court to hear his case in a dispute with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service which had begun in 1963, Arthur Gates Barkley walks into the cockpit of Trans World Airlines (TWA) Flight 486 – a Boeing 727 flying from Phoenix, Arizona, to Washington National Airport in Arlingtnn, Virginia – armed with a .22-caliber pistol, a straight razor, and a can of gasoline (petrol), and threatens to set the plane and its passengers on fire if $100 million is not taken from the Supreme Court?s budget and given to him, the first time that an American airline hijacker has demanded a ransom. He forces the airliner to land at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia, where TWA gives him $100,750 in the hope that he will accept the smaller amount. Enraged at the small amount, Barkley orders the plane to take off and sends a message of complaint addressed directly to President Richard Nixon. During the next two hours, while the plane circles the airport, Barkley makes numerous suicidal threats, and TWA turns the matter over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which talks Barkley into returning to the airport to collect the rest of his ransom. When the plane lands, Barkley finds the runway lined with 100 sacks supposedly containing $1 million each but actually containing scraps of paper, and an FBI sniper shoots out the plane?s landing gear. A panicked passenger opens an emergency exit, and the rest of the passengers follow him out of the plane while FBI agents storm it, engage in a gun battle with Barkley in which Barkley and the copilot are wounded, and arrest Barkley."

June 6, 1970

"The commander of the U.S. Air Force's Military Airlift Command, General Jack J. Catton, accepts the first operational Lockheed C-5 Galaxy into service. The C-5 is the largest airplane in the world at the time."

July 1, 1970

"Trans World Airlines becomes the first airline to offer a no-smoking section aboard every aircraft in its fleet."

July 5, 1970

"While landing, Air Canada Flight 621, a Douglas DC-8-63, hits the runway at Toronto International Airport in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, with such force that its number four engine and pylon break off the right wing. The pilot manages to lift off again for a go around, but a series of explosions in the right wing break off the number three engine and pylon and then destroy most of the wing before the pilot can make a second landing attempt. The plane crashes in Brampton, Ontario, killing all 109 people on board."

July 17, 1970

"Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport commences passenger screening to help prevent hijackings, the first airport to do so."

July 30, 1970

"The Egyptian Air Force loses five MiG fighters and their pilots in a single day of combat with the Israeli Air Force."

August 2, 1970

"The first hijacking of a Boeing 747 takes place when 27-year old Puerto Rican nationalist Rodolfo Rivera Rios passes through a metal detector that Pan American World Airways personnel are not monitoring and boards Pan American Flight 299, a Boeing 747-121 (registration N736PA) flying from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City to San Juan, Puerto Rico, with 379 people on board. During the flight, he pulls out a .32-caliber pistol, a switchblade, and a bottle he claims contains nitroglycerine, demanding to be flown to Havana, Cuba. Awakened at dawn by the airliner circling Havana at an altitude of 2,000 feet (610 meters) while awaiting air traffic control instructions, President of Cuba Fidel Castro rushes to the airport to inspect the 747 – which at the time was still a novelty – but he declines an invitation to come aboard the plane, saying he does not want to ""disturb the passengers." Imprisoned in Cuba until 1977, Rios returns to the United States in 1978 and is imprisoned for life."

August 24, 1970

"Two U.S. Air Force Sikorsky HH-53C Sea Stallion helicopters complete a nine-day, seven-stop flight of 9,000 miles (14,493 km) from Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, to Da Nang, South Vietnam. The trip has included the first transpacific flight by helicopters, a 1,700-mile (2,738-km) non-stop segment on August 22 from Shemya Island in the Aleutian Islands to Misawa Air Base, Japan, with in-flight refuelling by HC-130 Hercules tanker aircraft."

September 6, 1970

"Members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) hijack three airliners bound for New York City. The hijackings of Trans World Airlines Flight 741 – a Boeing 707 flying from Frankfurt-am-Main, West Germany, with 155 people on board including Rabbi Yitzchok Hutner – and Swissair Flight 100 – a Douglas DC-8 with 155 passengers on board flying from Zürich-Kloten Airport in Switzerland – proceed without injury to anyone, and the airliners are flown to Dawson?s Field, an abandoned former Royal Air Force airstrip in a remote desert area of Jordan near Zarka. The hijacking of El Al Flight 219, a Boeing 707 with 158 people on board, fails when hijacker Patrick Argüello is shot and killed after injuring one crew member and his partner Leila Khaled is subdued and turned over to British authorities in London; two other PFLP members prevented from boarding El Al Flight 219 instead hijack Pan American World Airways Flight 93, a Boeing 747 flying from Brussels, Belgium, and Amsterdam, the Netherlands, with 153 people on board, which they force to fly to Beirut, Lebanon, and then on to Cairo, Egypt."

September 8, 1970

"While a Trans International Airlines Douglas DC-8 (registration N8963T) taxis at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City for a ferry flight to Washington Dulles International Airport in Fairfax County, Virginia, with eight flight attendants and three cockpit crew members on board, a foreign object becomes wedged between the right elevator and horizontal stabilizer, blown there by backwash from the aircraft preceding it on the taxiway. The problem is not detected, and the aircraft crashes upon takeoff, killing all 11 people on board; it is Trans International's only fatal accident. The accident prompts the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to institute new minimum distances between aircraft in line-up for take-off."

September 11, 1970

"U.S. President Richard Nixon orders the immediate deployment of armed federal agents aboard U.S. commercial aircraft to combat hijackings."

October 4, 1970

"American stock car racing driver Curtis Turner is one of two people killed when the Aero Commander 500 he is piloting crashes near Mahaffey, Pennsylvania."

October 28, 1970

"The U.S. Air Force completes Operation Fig Hill, an airlift begun on September 27 to bring medical personnel, equipment, and supplies to Jordan in the aftermath of combat between the country's armed forces and the Palestine Liberation Organization. During the airlift, transport aircraft have delivered 200 medical personnel, two field hospitals, and 186 short tons (169 metric tons) of supplies, equipment, vehicles, tents, and food."

November 21, 1970

"American aircraft begin the first major bombing campaign over North Vietnam since 1968, as 300 aircraft attack the Mu Gia and Ban Gari passes."

December 16, 1970

"The Hague Hijacking Convention, formally the "Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft," is adopted by the International Conference on Air Law at The Hague in the Netherlands. It requires signatory countries to prohibit and punish the hijacking of civilian aircraft in situations in which an aircraft takes off or lands in a place different from its country of registration. It also establishes the principle of aut dedere aut judicare, which holds that a party to the convention must prosecute an aircraft hijacker if no other state requests his or her extradition for prosecution of the same crime. It will go into effect on October 14, 1971."

December 19. 1970

"As Continental Airlines Flight 144 – a Douglas DC-9 with 30 people on board making a flight from Denver, Colorado, to Wichita, Kansas – is flying somewhere between Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Wichita, passenger Calos Denis passes a note to a stewardess indicating that he has a gun and wants to be flown to Cuba. When the captain asks if the passengers can disembark during a refueling stop at Tulsa, Denis agrees. After the other 26 passengers disembark at Tulsa International Airport, the crew sneaks off the plane while Denis uses the lavatory. Tulsa police then board the airliner, find Denis hiding in the lavatory, and arrest him. He turns out to be unarmed."

December 31, 1970

"With pre-tax losses of $130 million, the year ends as the worst ever for U.S. airlines."

Starsky Robotics Unveils a Self-Driving Truck That Could Kill Uber Subsidiary Otto

How many trucking jobs will self-driving trucks eliminate? All of them, if Uber subsidiary Otto has its way. What about Embark, last week’s alleged “Otto-killer”? Hard to tell from the vague press release regurgitations. But one company has just emerged from stealth mode with a genuinely fresh take on self-driving trucks—the first one to make truckers allies instead of enemies. It's called Starsky Robotics.

And how is it doing that, exactly? By inverting the traditional “disruptor” role Silicon Valley loves to crow about. Starsky hopes to use AI to augment and positively transform the truck driver’s traditional role—and to do so with the cooperation of the trucking companies and regulators their competitors have so far taunted or ignored.

If Starsky succeeds, they will provide an example of how evolution can sometimes be better than revolution. Theirs is a genuine effort to adapt technology to political and cultural realities, a strategy others would do well to emulate, as Uber is finding out in country after country.

What Sets Starsky Apart

One peculiarity of self-driving technology is that, while automakers proudly brag about investing billions to catch up with Silicon Valley’s efforts, truck manufacturers have been fairly quiet, if not downright reluctant. That's because the politics of the trucking industry, one of the largest employers in the United States, is a minefield even larger than that of the taxi industry. And you don’t need to be Travis Kalanick to know how badly Uber’s handled the latter.

Another reason? No one know when self-driving technology will be ready for primetime. Even once it works—and even developers have yet to define what “works” actually means—a universe of local and state regulations wait to be navigated or rewritten, unless or until the Department of Transportation announces a national policy the states will honor.

Enter Starsky Robotics, whose solution of adding autonomy without endangering trucking jobs seems so obvious, it seems insane that Otto, with Uber’s apparently unlimited resources behind them, didn’t launch with Starsky’s model out of the gate.

Whereas Otto’s business plan is to lease/sell/rent brand-new self-driving trucks the day after it’s legal (at some unknown point when full Level 5 autonomy actually works) Starsky’s is to keep humans in the loop from Day One.

They just won’t be in the truck.

Starsky’s first product is a robot that retrofits to existing trucks, comprised of a series of actuators to control the gas, brakes and steering. The robot uses cameras, radar and ultrasonic sensors to see, and is connected to a remote control facility from which truck drivers will take control during the first and last mile, similar to the U.S. Air Force’s facilities from which operators control drones all over the world.

Here's a fascinating video of one of their recent tests:

As far as why Starsky doesn't use LiDAR like the majority of automakers, Starsky founder and CEO Stefan Seltz-Axmacher says they "don’t want to be building a system reliant on technology that doesn’t exist yet,” in an apparent jab at companies like Quanergy, whose long-awaited, low-cost solid-state LiDAR units have yet to hit the market. “We’re just trying to build this based on technology that’s readily available.”’s George Hotz agrees, and so does Elon Musk, who has promised “full self-driving” Teslas without LIDAR as soon as next year.

Assuming that trio is correct, the heart of Starsky’s model isn’t their self-driving tech, but a system that uses autonomy to improve safety, efficiency and the quality of life for existing truck drivers. While Otto and Embark’s business models marinate behind the narrative of a shortage of 100,000 drivers, their plans either replace them with machines, or keep them in the truck. Starsky, by moving drivers to a drone-control facility, turns them into supervisors, enabling one “driver” to monitor many trucks, taking control only as necessary, or when a problem occurs. If Seltz-Axmacher can execute, the Starsky system will resolve the driver shortfall in an industry-wide win-win.

I’m sick and tired of startups claiming to care about safety. Using AI to improve safety makes perfect sense, but it will never happen if the end result is masses of unemployed drivers who will vote in candidates opposed to AI. This is where Seltz-Axmacher gets it.

“AI is quickly becoming ubiquitous,” he says. “Everyone’s worried about where they fit into a post-AI economy, but human beings play a really important role. Humans with AI can achieve much more than the world’s best algorithm. We're focused on empowering drivers.”

Starsky Robotics Isn’t Really a Tech Company

A lot of things have to fall into place for Starsky to begin executing their blue-sky plan, but Level 4 autonomy isn’t one of them. Rather than accumulate test miles at investor’s expense, Starsky began hauling freight for its first customer earlier this month, in one of the only states where self-driving trucks are legal: Florida.

There’s another reason to test and haul in Florida: the weather is great. Business-friendly states with good weather will likely embrace autonomy as Florida has, and do so before the DOT develops a federal policy. Self-driving trucks will function in Florida winters long before they do in snowy Michigan, allowing a company already in the trucking industry’s good graces to generate revenue market-by-market as the technological hurdles to Level 5 autonomy continue to fall.

Starsky claims the drive you see above was done 85% autonomously, but didn’t want to discuss details of the teleoperation component, and claimed multiple disengagements, which I don’t consider relevant because definitions of disengagements are so vague as to make apples-to-apples comparisons practically meaningless. What is relevant is Starsky’s plan to generate revenue from shipments on which they’re both testing teleoperation and gathering data for their self-driving tech—two systems which must seamlessly work in concert if Starsky’s model is to succeed. In other words, Starsky isn’t really a tech company as much as a trucking company developing self-driving tech.

Seltz-Axmacher, who stuffs George Hotz’s confidence and Jack Black’s humor into a Seth Rogan-esque package, put it another way.

"We’re a staffing agency,” he said. “We’ll lease you a robot on a per-mile basis. Driver-as-a-service.”

This is why I’m so fascinated by Seltz-Axmacher and Starsky. He’s clearly not revealing everything they’ve done, nor everything they intend to do, but you can draw a straight line from their first principles to where they intend to go. By using AI to augment a sector as it exists rather than obliterate it into a new form envisioned by "disruptors," Starsky may prove to be one of the first public-facing examples of how and why humans needn’t be sacrificed on the altar of autonomy, and can in fact benefit from it.

If only someone would build a VR-based system so every Uber driver with a gaming wheel on their desk could remotely drive cabs, we'd be onto something. I'm talking to you, Travis Kalanick.

The future isn’t binary. We face a multi-decade plateau, a mixed environment of semi-autonomous and human-augmented driving, which are not necessarily the same thing. If both can save lives but only one sacrifices people’s livelihoods, I know which is more likely to be embraced by a vast industry with a powerful union behind it.

I also know who is most likely to profit from it, if only Seltz-Axmacher can execute, but we'll cover that in the next chapter of my visit to Starsky's secret HQ in San Francisco.

(UPDATED to reflect Starsky claim of 85% autonomy on video test run, rather than 65%.)

Alex Roy is Editor-at-Large for The Drive, author of The Driver, and set the 2007 Transcontinental “Cannonball Run” Record in 31 hours & 4 minutes. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Epic Dukes of Hazzard General Lee Stunt in Detroit Ends, Predictably, in Awesome Crash

Legend has it that the seminal early 1980s TV show The Dukes of Hazzard went through between 250 and 320 different Dodge Chargers mocked up in the orange-and-Dixie livery that marked them as the General Lee. While the true number is likely known only by God and the Duke boys themselves, it's beyond question that the Southern-fried CBS show took a decent-sized chunk out of the number of second-gen Chargers in America.

Not that you need to pin down John Schneider the next time you see him at the county fair to confirm it. Instead, just watch this clip of a Dukes of Hazzard-inspired stunt in downtown Detroit from last Friday, which shows—with a camera phone's unedited specificity—exactly the sort of crash you wind up with when you launch a 1960s-era muscle car through the air on a parabolic arc and try to set it down on a paved road.

According to Michigan-area news site, the epic retro stunt was executed to kick off Detroit's 67th annual Autorama car show 67th by stunt driver Raymond Kohn, a member of the Northeast Ohio Dukes—a group of performers who not only put on a live-action Dukes of Hazzard stunt show, but who offer their services for parties and weddings in the broader Ohio area.

(Look, this is a country with thousands of people who dress up in 19th Century clothing and reenact the bloodiest battles of the Civil War for fun. Is this that much weirder?)

The 8 Best Filming Drones of 2017

So you want a drone that can film from the sky? DRIVE/Aerial is here to help. A few years ago, if you wanted to dabble in aerial photography or cinematography, you only had a handful of options. Today's offerings, however, come with a wide array of features and can range from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars, which makes trying to find the right one daunting.

So to help you sort out the good from the bad, we at DRIVE/Aerial decided to put together a list of our favorite camera-ready drones available as of February 2017. That way, you'll be all ready to film your family on your next vacation to Aruba.

Holy Stone F181 - $109.99

If you'd like to dip your toe in to the aerial filming market, the Holy Stone F181 is a good place to start. This feature-packed drone comes with an attachable 720p camera, a push-button return, and an altitude hold function that can help any pilot stay up in the air. Unfortunately, it doesn't come with an external gimbal to stabilize your footage, which means your camera is only as steady as your flying. But for the $109 price tag, this drone is hard to beat.

Yuneec Breeze 4K - $364.38

We like to call the Breeze the budget DJI Mavic (see below). It's a portable 4K drone that is easy to use and fits in a backpack. The only drawback is its lack of stabilized footage. The portable design means Yuneec sacrificed an external gimbal, so you'll have to stabilize your footage in post-production. But for the price and feature list (4K video and 13MP stills, as well as selfie, orbit, journey, and follow-me modes) the Breeze is a good entry into filming from the air.

Yuneec Q500 4K - $799.00

Although the Yuneec Q500 4K is a little older than some drones here, it makes the list because of its modularity. The Yuneec Q500's removable gimbal is not offered on any other drone on this list. This means you can detach the camera and film beautiful, stabilized 4K footage by hand. Unfortunately, it doesn't contain some of the accident avoidance features we'd like to see in this price range...but for the filmmaker on a budget, its versatility is perfect.

Xiaomi Mi Drone - $459.99

The Xiaomi Mi is the most affordable stabilized 4K drone on the market. For $459, you get a lot of the bells and whistles that you see on the more expensive drones (GPS-assisted hover, tracked flight, surrounded flight) with only a slight loss in picture quality, which is really only visible during editing and color correcting.

Snap 4K Vantage Robotics - $915

Some time has passed since we last wrote about the Snap, but we're still eager for its arrival. We like the Snap because it of its novel approach to modularity, and the safety guards around its propellers. What makes Snap interesting is that the fuselage housing the camera and battery can come off completely and the propellers fold up, making it able to fit in a laptop bag. But the longer this drone takes to get to market, the likelier the competition may catch up.

Parrot Bebop 2 FPV - $649.00

The Bebop uses a novel approach to filming. Instead of having a separate gimbal to stabilizes the camera, the drone uses electronic stabilization (like the iPhone) on the front-facing camera. The limitation of this is the camera and drone are directly attached, which means the drone has to make any moves you want the camera to perform. On the upside, the setup makes it easier for pilots trying aerial cinematography for the first time. You see what it sees (hence FPV, or "first person viewing"); instead of trying to orient the drone by looking at it in the air, your left is its left, and so forth.


The DJI Inspire 2 is a powerhouse. It can shoot 5.2K in CinemaDNG raw and Apple ProRes on the biggest sensor available in a RTF (ready-to-fly) drone on the market. It offers a separate FPV camera, so one pilot can steer and fly the drone while another pilot operates the camera from a separate controller. The footage is top of the class; entire movies have been shot just using this drone. The downside: the price tag. Fully decked out, the DJI can cost upwards of $8,000 dollars. But if your budget stretches that far, this is the drone to get.

DJI MAVIC - $999.00

The DJI Mavic is our favorite drone on the market today. Its portability and crisp 4K video make it the drone to beat. It doesn't compromise on quality photo (12MP) or video (4K video at 30 fps) just because it's small, and it still packs a five-kilometer range and a 27-minute flight time.

The biggest drawback to drones prior to 2016 was the clunky packaging. Each professional drone needed its own case, which often meant leaving it behind when using a small crew. The Mavic changed that; it's small enough for users to toss it in a back pack. The only downside is that it costs nearly $1,000, but for the price, you get one of the most feature-packed drones on the market—one you can take anywhere in the world.

Lamborghini Urus SUV Will Make More Than 600 Horsepower, Report Claims

The higher-ups at the Volkswagen Group have hitched some pretty high hopes to the Lamborghini Urus. Lambo CEO Stefano Domenicali has said he expects the brand to sell around 3,500 copies of the SUV per year, which works out to one Urus for every Huracan and Aventador the company moves. But just because the new SUV is expected to double the supercar company's annual sales doesn't mean it'll be an entry-level model when it comes to power or price. According to British publication Auto Express, the new Urus will not only cost around the same amount as the Huracan when it goes on sale later this year—but it'll make around the same amount of power.

The new report, which cites Domenicali as a source, claims the Urus's 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 will make "in excess" of 600 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. The Huracan, in contrast, makes 602 hp in all-wheel-drive LP610-4 form and 572 hp in rear-wheel-drive LP580-2 form; neither example's naturally-aspirated V-10 comes close to matching the boosted eight-pot's reported torque figure, however. All that power will be routed to the Urus's four (presumably massive) wheels through a dual-clutch gearbox. The SUV will also reportedly score adjustable electronic dampers and a four-wheel-steering system inspired by the one found in the new Lamborghini Aventador S, too.

Likewise, the Urus will likely come in close to or just above Lamborghini's smallest current two-seater in terms of price. Auto Express reports the SUV will start around £180,000—about 15 percent more than the starting price of the Huracan in England. Assuming that price differential translates over to the American market, the Urus will likely start around $290,000 in the States.

Buyers might have to fork out more than that if they want to take an Urus home soon, though—especially if they don't already have an order in the books. Domenicali said demand for the sport-ute could be "a little bit crazy” for the first two years of production.

Cadillac Book Is a Concierge Service That Will Disrupt the Rental Car, Dealer Industries

If you want to raise money, lose money, buy a company, sell a company, or hide the fact that you don't have a viable business plan in the transportation sector, add the word mobility. Mobility is the dumbest word in Silicon Valley, Detroit, and anywhere cars are built or software is written. What is mobility? While everyone hemorrhages cash trying to figure it out, one old-school automaker has unexpectedly put a stake in the ground which shows genuine courage: Cadillac.

The product is called Cadillac Book. It’s a $1,500-per-month subscription service that gives users access to almost any Cadillac—including halo models like the excellent CTS-V—via the Book app. Throw in white-glove delivery service, insurance, registration, taxes, maintenance, unlimited mileage, no long-term commitment, and up to eighteen vehicle swaps per year, and you have what appears to be an overpriced, long-term car rental.

But it’s much more than that. To understand why Book is so brave and potentially revolutionary, we must define what mobility is, and will be.

What is Mobility?

Mobility isn’t any one transportation solution, it’s a continuum. From walking, biking, riding, driving, pooling, hailing, sharing and renting to subways, trains and planes, we're already highly mobile, but we often experience gaps in our access to these verticals, inefficiencies within them, and the friction of switching between them. This is where Silicon Valley has owned the personal transportation sector. Remember when you couldn’t get a cab in the rain? Uber solved that. What’s the most efficient combination of walking, buses, and trains to get from A to B? Behold, Google Maps.

Because mobility is composed of so many fractured elements, from cars and bikes we own to trains and planes we never will, there are few economies of scale for users requiring more than one mode to get from A to B on a daily basis. You can buy a discounted, unlimited monthly NYC Metrocard, but if you live outside the city and drive to a train station you don’t get a discount for bearing the cost of a car, gas and insurance.

Before Uber and Chinese competitor Didi, everyone in mobility was highly specialized, at least to the end user. Cars? Ford made them; dealers sold them; taxi companies charged for them; Hertz rented them. Trains? Bombardier made them and transit agencies operated them. Planes? Boeing or Airbus, then Jetblue or Delta, probably booked through Expedia or Orbitz.

When Uber talks about mobility, they’re talking not only about replacing taxis with ride hailing, but public transportation itself. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be lobbying cities to reduce the amount of parking, or to replace bus lines they claim are inefficient. Uber’s mobility plan isn’t merely to annihilate and re-create taxis and pooling, but to move into neighboring mobility verticals as well.

The dream is Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS), a single point of contact, payment and access for multiple modes of transportation like the MultiPass from The Fifth Element. The dream is to turn mobility into a business like health insurance.

MaaS is the logical evolution of mobility. People don’t need (or necessarily want) new ways to get from A to B. Until self-driving and -flying cars arrive—and even then—the only metrics that matter are access and cost-per-mile. Combine verticals, simplify access, reduce friction, and cut pricing, and you have where Uber plans to go, and traditional automakers need to.

MaaS is Uber’s dream and everyone else’s nightmare. Uber’s plan is everyone else’s backup plan, which is why “mobility” is simultaneously everywhere and nowhere. It’s why self-driving cars, the clearest subset of technologies spanning the mobility continuum, get so much attention. It’s why car manufacturers are reluctantly and desperately investing in any and every vertical on the continuum, hoping to glue them together while Uber and Didi figure it out, or go broke trying.

Cadillac parent General Motors is as guilty as anyone of taking a shotgun approach to MaaS. GM has acquired both Cruise Automation (self-driving cars) and Sidecar (ridesharing/delivery), launched Maven (a car sharing app/service), and invested $500M in Uber competitor Lyft (ride hailing/pooling). GM is offering discounted short-term leases to Lyft drivers and giving them first dibs on the new Chevy Bolt EV, while Maven partnered with Uber to rent them Chevys.

Confused? I’m sure GM CEO Mary Barra is, too. I was confused researching that paragraph, which means the average consumer is probably clueless. Daimler’s mobility strategy is equally messy. Ditto Ford, BMW and VW. That’s why you don’t see nice, clean charts explaining the state of the mobility sector. Doing everything means doing no one thing well. Focus matters.

And then you have Cadillac Book.

Cadillac’s Trojan Horse

What are the minimum requirements for a MaaS provider? You need cars, and you need an app that is the entry point for two or more mobility verticals. If you don’t have a direct relationship with the end user, if you don’t have their credit card, if you don’t control pricing, then you’re at the mercy of someone else who does. Premium MaaS can charge more for a better product or service. Budget Maas must save the customer money over alternatives.

Cadillac Book meets all those requirements, starting with the ownership/leasing and sharing verticals.

For the right customer, Book’s $1,500 monthly fee makes sense. A 36-month, zero-money-down lease of Cadillac’s fantastic CTS-V sedan runs about $1000. If your insurance is $4,000 a year, your monthly expenses will run $1,333, not including maintenance. Now add, at no additional charge, the option of swapping out to an Escalade SUV or XT5 crossover for a weekend, or for the entire winter. How else could you do that? Renting a Platinum edition Escalade for the weekend even once will cost you at least $350, not including the hassle of pickup and return. Lease or buy one, and your monthly cost for two such vehicles is well over $2,000, not including parking for the second one.

What about Turo, my favorite car-sharing service? CTS-Vs run $2,100 to $2,700 per month, not including their premium insurance.

A Cadillac CTS-V rental on Turo A Cadillac CTS-V rental on Turo

If you need two different luxury vehicles in one year, Book is a bargain.

If $1,500 a month works for Book, it’s easy to picture Ford, Chevy, and the Japanese at less than half that, Porsche coming in higher, and the Germans offering tiered pricing.

“Have an accident?” said Thornton Hughes, Cadillac’s Director of Strategy & Advanced Analytics, “we’ll bring you another one.”

Try that with Hertz or Avis, or your local car dealer. Even a luxury car dealer. Once Cadillac expands Book beyond its Manhattan test, premium MaaS becomes a reality. Why? Because your subscription is portable to other cities. Vacation? Work? It doesn't matter. You and your employer both save, and rental, in a sense, becomes Cadillac's third vertical. Goodbye, Hertz and Avis; hello, curbside pickup and dropoff. If Book works, car rental companies have a big, big problem.

But now, the real Trojan Horse.

What’s the biggest problem in the car industry? Manufacturers and end users are separated by Stone Age dealer networks and the franchise agreements that protect them. Nearly 75 percent of consumers would prefer to buy online. Dealer associations have waged war to stop Tesla’s direct-sales model, and those dealer agreements hinder manufacturers efforts to duplicate Tesla’s wireless over-the-air (OTA) updates. OTA updates are at the core of Tesla’s massive lead in deploying and improving their Autopilot technology.

Remove dealers as a point of entry to mobility, and all these problems are solved. Behold, Cadillac Book.

I asked Hughes whether this was Cadillac’s plan, and where Book’s cars would come from.

“For the [New York] pilot, they will come from the factory. We want to scale fast. Using the dealer network would be a great way to do that.”

I bet it would, but pulling cars from dealer stock still removes the dealer from the point of sale, and as an entry point to mobility. If Book succeeds, dealers become parking lots and service depots. Dealers that adapt may thrive. The others will become wards of GM. Either way, consumers win.

When pressed, Hughes deflected my Trojan Horse theory.

“We’re trying to attract people to the brand who would not otherwise have considered it. We’re trying to take the pain out of ownership and leasing. No commitment. This could end up being totally synergistic with dealers.”

I’m sure that’s true, but if all Cadillac Book does is attract new buyers, it will have fallen far short of what it might be. I’ve given GM a hard time for too many reasons to list here, but Book is the first potentially revolutionary mobility play to come from a traditional manufacturer. Combine Book with the self-driving tech to come out of GM’s Cruise acquisition, and Mary Barra’s plan to “disrupt ourselves” will come true.

Or maybe GM just wants to sell cars the old-fashioned way. I hope not.

Alex Roy is Editor-at-Large for The Drive, author of The Driver, and set the 2007 Transcontinental “Cannonball Run” Record in 31 hours & 4 minutes. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Richard Hammond Loved Porsche’s 996 GT3 When It Was New

We're really looking forward to the new season of Top Gear. It's fair to say at this point that The Grand Tour was a bit of a letdown and, shouting aside, the last season of Top Gear without "the holy trio" wasn't as bad as we'd expected. With a little honing and the loss of a couple of the more annoying hosts, the next season is shaping up to be perhaps quite good. Still, though, we are a bit nostalgic for the good 'ol days of Top Gear, back in the mid-2000s when the cinematography wasn't the star, back when the jokes would still land, back when the hosts were still genuinely enthusiastic about the cars they drove.

After a little digging, we came up with this excellent clip on YouTube, wherein Hammond takes a brand new 996 GT3 for a spin... Literally.

Richard, it's easy to tell, has fallen deeply, madly, and truly in love with what is possibly Porsche's best watercooled model ever. Even after more than a decade, it's hard to beat the raw passion that the 996 GT3 engenders. Sure you have to put up with those awful 996 headlamps [admittedly they're growing on us, time heals all wounds, suppose], and a lackluster 996 interior that is as uninspired as it is spartan. But spartan is really what this car is about, there's nothing fiddly to get in the way of your driving. There aren't any nannies to prevent you from having as much sideways fun as you want. This is as pure a sports car as has ever existed, and it deserves as much praise as is heaped upon it in this film. Hell, even Jeremy Clarkson admitted he adored driving it.

Australia Looks Towards Hyperloop to Ease Tight Housing Market

Australian lawmakers want to examine high speed rail as a way to make it easier for workers in high-rent cities such as Sydney and Melbourne to own a home. One proposal calls for eight entirely new cities to be built along a high-speed rail corridor between Sydney and Melbourne by 2050, to the tune of $200 billion. However, the Australian Parliament's Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities also wants the government to explore Elon Musk's Hyperloop as a way to expand transportation networks at a fraction of the cost of rail.

More affordable housing accessible by hyperloop

As readers of The Drive likely know by now, a hyperloop transports passengers or cargo at supersonic speeds in a low-pressure frictionless tube, cutting travel time from hours down to minutes. The high-speed lines could open up new housing markets to workers in high-rent Australian cities, such as Melbourne or Sydney. The average price of a home in Sydney was $880,000 in June 2016, according to ABC News Australia. However, in Granville—a 40-minute train ride away—a two-bedroom home drops to $600,000, while a two-hour drive away in Goulburn, a four-bedroom home is only $420,000.

Commuters are already seeking out areas with more affordable housing. Goulburn mayor Geoff Kettle estimates there are approximately 2,000 people commuting daily from Goulburn to Canberra and Sydney, and notes that growth could be even stronger with improved transportation system linking the cities.

Construction costs could be covered by rising land value

Spreading out housing demand would also ease traffic and strain on infrastructure in cities as population density increases. Funds for the transportation network expansion could be raised by rising real estate values of newly created communities along the lines, according to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Although hyperloops still have many engineering and construction challenges to overcome, they offer significant cost savings over traditional high speed rail; construction and operation costs are estimated to be 60 percent less than high speed rail, and a hyperloop could be financially viable at 15 percent occupancy. Once it gets off the to speak.

Watch a Man Crash a McLaren MP4-12C While Driving With One Hand

Driving mid-engines supercars is not easy. In fact, most experienced driving professionals would tell you that if you're going to sit yourself down behind the wheel of a car like a 616-horsepower McLaren MP4-12C, you're going to want to use two hands. But during the events in this video, that apparently wasn't taken into consideration—at least not until the driver crashed the supercar and caused more than $100,000 worth of damage.

In a video that was shared on YouTube Friday, you see a man behind the wheel of an MP4-12C at a $99 "ride and drive" experience. Though the driver has an instructor next him—someone who is supposed to prevent the inexperienced from doing stupid things—the driver still manages to crash the multi-hundred thousand dollar supercar.

Though the driver didn't appear to be pushing the car too hard throughout most of the video, on his last lap, per the instructor's recommendation, the driver picks up the pace, but still while driving with one hand. After a straightaway where the instructor tells the driver repeatedly to "floor it," the driver looks up and finds himself attempting to steer the car around a tight turn. He fails, understeers the car, and, according to the video, leaves the supercar with $125,000 in damage.

Check out the video below.

The Best Place To Buy A Good Cheap Car

So you want to buy a good cheap car. Consider the junkyard. Seriously. Just walk the back lots until you find yourself an automotive carcass that has been molderizing for a few seasons. Of course, once you buy it you'll need a new battery, tires, hoses, fluids, and maybe even a few important body parts like doors and a steering wheel. But if you want cheap, there you go!

The problem is that when most folks say cheap car, what they really mean is, “Where I can find a good cheap car?”

I have spent most of my 17-year career buying and selling cars as an auto auctioneer, car dealer, and part-owner of an auto auction. So let me offer you an uncomfortable answer that starts with the conventional places that are the high dollar beehives of retail, and gradually goes to those long forsaken places that can get you a great deal if you’re willing to take on the education and the risk.

From worst to first:

New Car Dealership: Worst Place

If you want to pay for skylights, marble floors, a not so small army of underpaid employees, and at least one bogus fee that’s named after the owner’s dog, buy your next not-so-cheap used car at a new car dealership.

New car dealer prices are sky high for two reasons. First, they expect some wheeling and dealing on their used cars, and second, they pay for a ton of overhead. It costs an awful lot of money to operate a new car dealership. After investing in a floorplan, physical equipment, personnel, the physical dealership, and local advertising, what most dealerships are left with is a financial hole that must be filled with a stiff price premium for their used cars.

Buy-Here Pay-Here Dealership: Pretty Terrible

$700 down and $60 a week for 2 years! Sounds like a great deal until you do the math. Then you realize that what they really mean is a $7,000 price tag for a 12-year-old Chevy Impala.

I own a dealership that does this for folks who have recently blown up their own credit and can’t get a conventional loan. Their past decisions have already cost someone out there thousands of dollars. Sometimes even tens of thousands of dollars. My job is to hedge that risk of default and make money. Typically, I’ll break even some time around the ninth or tenth month if the customer pays for the car and the vehicle remains in good condition.

Is this cheap? Not a chance. This is the deep sub-prime world of car buying where the risky pay a lot more money. If you have the cash or the credit, don’t go here.

Carmax And Other Auto Superstores: Not So Good

Carmax doesn’t sell cheap. The same is true for other large popular retailers such as Carvana, Vroom and Shift.

They have a tough balancing act. On one side of the fence they have to pay for the same types of overhead that most new car dealerships have to, along with shareholders and private investors.

However they are incredibly good at selling in high volume. They also have a well deserved reputation for picking out the better vehicles at the wholesale dealer auctions where millions of vehicles are sold every year (more on that later). These dealers average around $2,000 to $3,000 in profit before expenses. If you finance with them, that margin can go up substantially.

These places aren’t cheap, but they are easy to buy and do a better job than most retail competitors.

Independent Used Car Dealers, Cash Only: Decent

These places typically do not finance their own vehicles. You will see the cash prices on the windshields and the better run dealerships have been around for quite a while.

A used car dealership has as much access to the nice cars as the big boys without nearly as much overhead, and they will offer a cash price instead of asking for “$499 down.” The prices are substantially lower than the big volume dealers, but these dealers will also typically spend less money reconditioning their vehicles to get them ready for sale.

So If a few dings and scratches bother you, go to the big volume superstores. If you figure that someone is bound to put a minor ding on your car at some point or if you’re willing to buy an unpopular car with less than 100,000 miles, by all means shop here. The quality varies and you definitely need the cars to be independently inspected, but the deals are often better.

Private Individuals: Getting Better

There are two type of private owners that sell their own cars: The boutique dealers and the yard sale liquidators. Boutique dealers want you to pay for all the sentimental value they have in that car. To them, the stains on the back seat are an endearing reminder of when their little kid had his first Kit Kat bar. But to you, it’s a nasty remnant that’s going to require a shampoo detail.

Then there are the yard sale liquidators. They just want to get the car out of their lives either because they already bought something else, or they want to kick the bucket of future repair costs before it’s full.

Buy from the yard sale seller, but make extra sure you get it inspected before you hand over the dosh. A lot of these cars are in far worse shape than they appear.

Government Auctions: Now You’re Cheap!

This is where I would buy if my personal priorities were condition, price, and the color white.

Most of these vehicles go for $2,500 or less and the overwhelming majority have less than 100,000 miles on them. The catch? You need to look at them in person, because "AS IS" really means “As It Is,” which is to say you aren't going to be allowed to drive them around the block, and there are no guarantees. But what you can do is ask the local government’s maintenance department if you could have a look at the maintenance records. Most government vehicles are maintained every 5,000 miles and contrary to the modern myth, most of them are not worn out police cars.

Impound Lot Auctions: Now You’re Really Cheap!

This is where abandoned vehicles, drug-seized cars, and cars that were driven with no insurance all wind up. You will find these auctions advertised online here and at your local newspaper.

Are their deals to be had? Absolutely! But you will know far less about the vehicles than you will at a government auction. Some tow lots and wrecker yards let you start the cars. Others just want you to check the fluids and use your imagination.

I have bought plenty of vehicles at these sales where typically the cars sell for less than a thousand bucks. But I had a big edge. I was the auctioneer and the owner couldn’t afford to burn me. These places are a cheap emporium but they’re also a no-no nadir for those who aren’t true hardcore do-it-yourself car owners with a lot of spare money and time.

Used Car Brokers

When I say broker, I really mean anyone with a used car dealer license who is willing to buy for someone else at a wholesale dealer auction. The typical fee is the actual cost of the vehicle plus $500 and the more shrewd operators will ask for a 20% deposit up front. I run a variation of this on a Facebook page I developed and I have been doing this in metro-Atlanta for a little over a decade.

The risk is two-fold. You need to buy from someone you can trust and you also need to be realistic. Most auction vehicles will have a discount price ranging from 10% to 30% off retail. With unpopular cars getting a far bigger discount than a popular late model vehicle.

Most brokers who do this strongly prefer to buy for businesses instead of individuals. Why? Because businesses and the self-employed who drive a lot are perfectly fine with buying a workhorse, while individuals always want a showhorse and don’t understand that a few dings and dents come with that discount price.

So if you’re a true cheapskate that could care less about cars, I would opt for the government auctions and I would focus on those cities and counties that are the most affluent. Those places on average will do a better job with maintenance and repair. Want a late model car that is five years or newer? Go with a private individual or a broker. And if your house already has a built in lift, you absolutely love cheap cars, and you have absolutely nothing better to do with your life, go to the impound lot auctions.Just remember one thing.

It’s the stingy person who pays the most. So do your research on the car’s past, get it inspected or have the recent maintenance verified, and be brutally honest with yourself. Nothing’s worse than owning an expensive car that requires champagne cash to own when you’re on a cheap beer budget.