Before the F-16s became the drone target conversion of choice for the USAF, the F-4 was the jet. The contract for conversion was run by Tracor which ultimately ended up being part of BAE Systems at the time I saw these jets. They did the conversion program at Mojave Airport in California. We were a bit of a distance from the ramp where they were parked but it was early in the day and the heat haze was not yet a problem so a long shot was feasible. Looking at these, I think they were both RF-4C jets that had either been converted or were about to be.
While watching the surfing at Santa Cruz, I wasn’t the only one with a camera. There were quite a few of us shooting from the ground but one person was taking it up a notch – literally. They were flying a Phantom Quadcopter with a GoPro mounted underneath. Phantoms are a hot thing right now. The view that you can get from an elevated position is excellent and the combination of the new quadcopter designs with the lightweight GoPro (and other brand) cameras makes for a very useful tool whether shooting stills or video.
The control system is quite advanced. The system keeps the machine were it is and you demand any change in location. Rather than having to constantly control the machine to stay where you want, it takes the majority of the burden from you. Very helpful if you want to concentrate on what you are filming. I am quite tempted to rent one at some point to give it a try. I have seen them in the wild a couple of times and find them rather impressive. I think it is a little too limited in role for me to think about getting one (although when has that ever held me back?) It would be good to try one first, though.