There’s flying a drone and then there’s flying a drone. While the former invariably involves gentle climbs and careful descents, the latter can include breathtaking speeds, sudden turns, and, if you’re still learning the ropes, lots of crashes.
These faster, more sophisticated flights are often performed by FPV (first person view) drones. For those not in the know, FPV flights involve strapping on a headset for an immersive, real-time view of the drone’s flight via its front-facing camera. FPV flights usually use smaller, faster, more versatile drones than your popular DJI Mavic machine, with pilots often building their own devices according to their own particular flying styles.
Keen to see what the best FPV pilots can achieve, we scoured the web for footage of spectacular flights in a range of scenarios.
So place a soft cushion on the floor for your jaw because the efforts posted below are nothing short of astonishing. A mix of incredible speed, awesome moves, and breathtaking precision, these FPV drone videos will not fail to impress.
Acrobatics in an abandoned building
Drone pilot: Mr. Steele
Flight: Sit back and enjoy this high-speed tour of a derelict, graffiti-covered building that includes a few detours along the way. Mr. Steele shows off an expansive range of dazzling skills and somehow manages to prevent his machine from slamming into a wall.
Jaw-drop move: At the 1:57 mark, Mr. Steele powers his drone skyward before launching it straight down through a hole in the roof.
Medieval castle maneuvers
Drone pilot: Benoit Finck
Flight: Finck won a GoPro Award for this wonderfully cinematic effort, which captures the serene beauty of Mont-Saint-Michel, an island in Normandy, France featuring a 16th-century castle. Highly polished, the sequence includes plenty of impressive drone moves along with a suitably scintillating soundtrack that matches the action perfectly.
Jaw-drop move: At the 1:32 mark, Finck swoops down from a great height before coming right around and flying — with great precision — through a small opening.
Diving down the Burj Khalifa
Drone pilot: Johnny FPV
Flight: In another slick production, Johnny FPV takes his FPV drone on a mind-blowing exterior tour of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The drone flight is surely as spectacular as the setting itself, with the experienced pilot pushing his flying machine to the very limit.
Jaw-drop move: At the 39-second mark, marvel at how Johnny FPV manages to seemingly brush up against the building’s shiny exterior while skirting it at speed.
Bowling alley ballet
Drone pilot: Jay Christensen
Flight: Filmed at the Bryant Lake Bowl and Theater in Minneapolis, this FPV drone video made international headlines when it appeared in 2021. Carefully choreographed with a specially crafted audio track added later, the drone flight takes us on a tour of the bowling alley on a typical night.
Jaw-drop move: There are several amazing moments in this brilliantly shot video, but we’re going for the moment 23 seconds in where Christensen nails a tricky maneuver, piloting his Cinewhoop drone from the bowling lanes to the machinery behind it.
Skimming peaks in Madeira
Drone pilot: Ellis van Jason
Flight: Forget about sweeping wide shots from high above. Here, van Jason takes us on a high-speed exploration of the gorgeous landscape of Madeira — an island off the northwest tip of Africa — hurtling over cliff tops, through ravines, and across the sea.
Jaw-drop move: For us, it’s at the 13-second mark, where van Jason brushes the side of the rocks before making a sudden downward turn into a narrow opening. We don’t know if or how much the footage has been sped up, but it’s a neat maneuver nonetheless, and it looks great here.
Chasing a roller coaster
Drone pilot: Viggo Koch
Flight: Koch uses a GoPro action camera attached to a custom-built drone that also carries a Foxeer Falkor first person view camera. The roller coaster ride tracked by Koch at one point hits 62mph (100kph), with the ace pilot able to make it look easy, keeping close to the coaster’s cars through all their twists and loops.
Jaw-drop move: At the 32-second mark, Koch turns his drone sharply before weaving it though a pair of the roller coaster’s supporting pylons. It’s a lightning-quick move; blink and you’ll miss it.
A beach cruise in the sky
Drone pilot: Robert McIntosh
Flight: For something a little different, enjoy this Venice Beach flyover that was shot in the early morning. It’s not high speeds or crazy acrobats that mark this one out, but instead the precise moves and cinematic production. McIntosh filmed it flying forward (as opposed to going the other way and having the camera face behind) and later reversed the film before adding sound effects and some stabilization. And yes, as this video confirms, he really did fly his tiny drone through that little hoop.
Jaw-drop move: No doubt about it — the hoop shot! Even with FPV goggles on, it wouldn’t have been easy, as you only get to see the narrow opening once you’re up close.
Catching a drift
Drone pilot: Johnny FPV
Flight: Johnny FPV’s second appearance in this compilation is an excellent example of how drone footage can add another exciting layer to motor sports, keeping close to the track to provide the audience with a realistic view of the action. We just hope the drivers don’t find it too distracting when the drone swoops down and appears right in front of the windshield!
Jaw-drop move: At the 2:28 mark, Johnny FPV tracks one car before flying up and over the car behind before settling in behind it.
Crashing a house party
Drone pilot: Robert McIntosh
Flight: It may be highly produced and carefully choreographed, but that takes nothing away from McIntosh’s incredible efforts in this commercial for music distribution firm AWAL, culminating in his second appearance in this compilation.
Jaw-drop move: It comes early on, after just six seconds, with the drone passing through window of the car and out through the open door. Before drones, Hollywood directors would’ve pulled a few video tricks to make something like this happen, but now they just need to call upon the services of a very talented drone pilot.
Zipping through the woods
Drone pilot: Wren Weichman
Flight: OK, this isn’t the most amazing FPV drone flight you’ll ever see, but its raw nature and abrupt ending makes it the perfect one to close this compilation. Flown by Los Angeles-based YouTuber and visual effects artist Wren Weichman using DJI’s FPV drone, the flight takes us on a rapid and rather mesmerizing ride through an area packed with trees, the machine weaving and dodging as it goes. Pushing the drone faster and into ever-trickier spaces, it’s little surprise that the pilot eventually runs out of luck. This Digital Trends article has more details on the calamitous drone flight.
Jaw-drop move: It has to be at the 1:04 mark, when Weichman accidentally smashes the drone straight into a tree. The drone still worked afterwards. And the tree was fine, too.