Imagine this: professionally produced free videos of model airplane reviews, tips and news. Entertaining hosts. A new video posted every couple of days. What’s not to like? As it turns out, plenty.
The videos look great. Flite Test posts a new one every two or three days. They run about ten minutes each, which is long enough to get a good look at the models but not too long to get boring. All the shots are bright, in focus, and imaginatively framed. They are better than 99.9% of the stuff found on YouTube.
The hosts are great. Both are named Josh, with one acting as the “dumb” guy and the other providing the technical information. The banter between them works and they make me want to see what they are going to do next.
There is good variety in the products tested. Though mostly electric airplanes, they also review an occasional glider and helicopter. There’s even a review of a gas airplane.
The shows are mostly unscripted, and it shows. The “dumb” guy just doesn’t know much about RC in real life and he has a hard time coming up with funny bits on the spot. Staring at the camera with dumb looks can only take your acting career so far.
There have been only two helicopter reviews and both were over a year ago, so don’t go there if you are a rotor head fan.
Every video prominently displays the logo of the company that sponsored its production. Initially this was Hobby King. Lately it’s been Horizon Hobby. Every video also ends with the hosts clearly spelling out this commercial sponsorship. Frankly, neither of these bothered me too much. If they can get somebody else to pay the bills, more power to them.
The commercial nature of the videos was very apparent to me very quickly. For example, in one of the videos they are reviewing an ARF Mustang. The hosts comment on how attractive the model looks, but completely fail to mention how the model is not even remotely accurate in its scale details. I suppose those that have never seen a picture of a real P-51 won’t mind the squarish-looking fuselage.
In fact, the hosts never say anything negative about any product that they review or mention. It’s all glowing praise from beginning to end. This is similar to what happens in the typical RC magazine review. The magazines don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them, either.
Some of the shows are labeled “tips” shows, where the products are not so blatantly pushed. I watched their airfoils show with anticipation. What a disappointment! There’s hardly any technical information in the show, and most of it is just not quite right. Their comments were filled with oversimplifications, misleading statements, and just plain blatant errors. I got the impression that the “smart” guy read up on the subject the night before the show, but by the time filming began he couldn’t quite remember most of what he read.
There are worse sins than sitting and watching dumb videos online. It’s what keeps YouTube in business. But going to this website to learn something is at about the same level as watching an infomercial and expecting to learn something.
I plan to keep an eye on this website and will report back if there are any major improvements. In the meantime, I’d steer clear.