Near dawn on June 7, Gary Graf gave up on trying to fall back to sleep, grabbed his video-enabled radio control airplane and headed to Bald Hill in Farmingville. His plan: to film the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, a 100-foot-tall obelisk with an American flag painted on its crest.
“It’s a beautiful monument; I always wanted to make a video of it,” Graf said.
Graf, 48, is a professional videographer who has been flying radio control planes for more than 30 years. The Ward Melville High School graduate lives in Setauket with his wife and two children, who both fly radio control planes.
To film the video, Graf used a first-person view craft, which has an onboard camera that sends a feed through an antenna to goggles worn by the operator on the ground.
Cash contributions from an online community of radio control flyers enabled him to purchase the video’s background music, a swirling orchestral selection titled “A Grand New Day.”
“When it was done, I realized I had something special because everyone I showed it to started cheering up a bit,” Graf said.
Graf said both the New York State chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America and the national Vietnam War Commemoration have expressed interest in featuring the video on their websites.