Flying Fireworks

I don’t know if YouTube’s algorithm handed me the Intel drones video due to all the aviation videos I’ve been watching or due to the Kīlauea volcano videos done using drones (which led to other using-drone videos — it’s amazing how the drone thing mushroomed).

Point is, the drones video probably isn’t synchronous with my recent interest in aviation — more a direct consequence. But I’ve followed Tom Scott’s channel for years, so his entry into this Wednesday Wow post definitely is a case of synchronicity.

It’s also an airshow I’d really like to see!

This first video dates back to July of 2018, so you may have seen it already, or may have seen other videos involving lighted drones flying in formation at night. (I believe one of the Super Bowl shows used them?)

This show involves 1,500 drones and was an attempt by Intel to break their previous record of a 1,218 drones formation. Apparently the show is controlled by a single person.

It’s impressive and it does represent ‘something new under the sun’ (or, perhaps in this case, new under the stars):

If you’re in a hurry, the drone show starts at 0:50.

As a programmer, I can’t help but think about the coding involved in this. It would be layered, which presentation (the 3D formation shapes) at the top and some very interesting lower layers flying the drones.

Writing cool stuff like that is what made programming awesome and fun. Just as with architecture and writing, it brings ideas to life. Its creation.

If you look around, you can find other videos featuring other synchronized lighted drone night flights.


This next video prompted this post. It made me grin so hard my face hurt. It combines two really cool things: flying and fireworks.

As I’ve mentioned before, a wise man once told me: “If it goes really fast or really high; explodes or catches fire; or makes a very loud noise; it’s cool.”

Which explains, in part, the attraction of fireworks and airplanes. This video combines them both, which makes it cool-squared.

The show begins at 3:05, but there is a fair bit of explanation to begin with. I’d recommend watching the whole thing because these guys are doing something beautiful and new (under the stars).

And, as with the drones, this requires modern technology to accomplish and is computer-controlled:

Seriously. Grinning so hard it hurts. I so want to see that airshow.

I recommend watching to the very end where the pilot turns off the engine and goes into glider mode. (For the record, I would have taken his place in a heartbeat. Let me at it!)


If you love fireworks, there are YouTube channels devoted to fireworks. (Or, in some cases, which feature lots of fireworks among other scenic videos.)

This is a fairly sedate video, but it features lots of the bigger shells, which I like. You’ll find a lot more videos on that channel (and many others).

It won’t surprise anyone that many of these source from Asia. The Chinese invented both gunpowder and fireworks. The Japanese have really run with that ball. From what I gather, there are a lot of firework festivals in Japan.

I’ve found fireworks videos soothing and meditative. I sometimes watch them before going to bed as a way to quiet my mind.


Those in-the-cockpit videos, or watching and listening to ATC traffic, can serve a similar purpose. Interesting enough to hold your gaze, but “random” enough to let your mind gears disengage.

The problem with closing your eyes, or starring at clouds, waves, or a campfire, is that there is too little to engage the mind and so it wanders off down tangents. I find it harder to quiet the inner voice with so little input.

Better to watch something simple and mindless to keep the low-level functions occupied while the high-level stuff takes a break.

On the other hand, some of these flying videos are too beautiful:

Some of these are faster time-lapse and a bit too fast-paced for meditation, but they do make for rather enthralling videos. This channel specializes in especially beautiful “movies” about aviation along with lots of in-the-cockpit videos.


I hope you enjoyed this Wednesday Wow. It should go without saying you should watch these on the biggest, best monitor you can. These are all high-def gorgeous.

I admit to having a definite aviation theme going lately, but I suspect it’s a little temporary, and the next Wednesday Wow will be a lot more geeky (and not related to aviation).

Stay tuned, my friends!


About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

4 responses to “Flying Fireworks

  • rung2diotimasladder

    Those drones are impressive! It’s like watching fireworks in slow motion.

    I bought a toy drone once for Geordie. He got a big kick out of it (and I mean a BIG kick) for the three seconds I managed to fly it. It was supposed to be for young children, but I couldn’t operate it. Neither could my uncle, who was a pilot.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Yeah, it’s a lot of fun what you can do with 1500 “pixels” you can move around in 3D. The combination of a small inexpensive flying machine, computer control, and LED lights that can be any color desired… I’m wondering when we’ll see a whole shitload turned into a giant video screen in the sky. Or even a surrounding dome display sort of ala Freeman street in Las Vegas.

      Don’t you just hate it when “something any kid can do” seems utterly beyond one’s ability? (cough–Rubik’s Cube–cough) I’ve thought about getting one when I’ve walked past the display case at Best Buy. I’ve always loved aerial photography.

      • rung2diotimasladder

        Pixels, yes. An interesting way to think about drones, that’s for sure. That’s a cool idea, doing a dome display. I can’t imagine the work that goes into this sort of thing.

        Rubiks cubes are insane. I never cracked those either. I’m sure there’s a trick to it.

        I like the idea of doing aerial photography too, but after that experience with the toy, I doubt I’d be able to fly a drone. But I bet you could figure it out. There’s something really fascinating about the bird’s eye view. I could spend forever “strolling” around the neighborhood with satellite maps. (I’m amazed at how many people here have swimming pools when we have a community pool that’s heated, kept immaculate, and barely gets used.)

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I’ve always been fascinated by maps and satellite photos. Long before Google Earth made it trivial, one of my cherished books was a big “coffee table” photo book called Above Los Angeles — part of a series for different cities, I believe. The whole book was aerial pictures spanning the history of LA. Often side by side comparisons of then and now. At the very end were a couple satellite photos of LA — a bit unusual those days, and I was enthralled!

        Like you, I still spend a lot of time “browsing” Google Earth and Google Maps.

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