I believe I can fly!

June 2018 Competition - 

To reward our Facebook followers we decided to host a competition. It was a simple competition just asking our followers to like, share and comment on a Facebook post. We decided when the competition ended to name everyone a winner! 

Naturally we love meeting people and certainly enjoy what we do, the idea of the competition was to give our followers a chance to fly one of our drones. We planned to talk through the basics of hobby flying and enable them to take their own photos and videos with a view to us promoting safe flying and bringing out their creative side.

So on a sunny Friday afternoon - 6th July 2018 we met up with four of our followers. Turns out one was the owner of the Love Eastney Facebook group, certainly worth giving their Facebook group a follow and like! 

 Photo taken by love eastney

Photo taken by love eastney

We met at The Coffee Cup Eastney for some delish cold drinks and after initial meets and greets the conversation about tech and drones begun! We decided it would be appropriate to bring our DJI Mavic Pro along as it's super portable, relatively easy to be fly and a good starter drone. It wasn't long before we whipped the DJI Mavic Pro out of it's case and placed it onto the table. It's still fascinating to think that such a small drone can fly so well!

Safety

We ran through the safety guidelines for hobby flyers and started with the guidance listed on the Civil Aviation Authorities website:

In simple terms, these regulations state that:

  • you are responsible for flying your drone in a safe manner
  • you must keep the drone in your direct sight at all times while it is flying, so that you can ensure that it does not collide with anything, especially other aircraft
  • you must not endanger anyone, or any thing with your drone, including any articles that you drop from it
  • if your drone weighs more than 7kg, additional rules apply if you fly in certain types of airspace and you must not fly above 400ft above the surface
  • If your drone is fitted with a camera, there are also a number of additional limitations surrounding where you can fly it, and how close you can fly it to other uninvolved people or objects. In order to be able to fly within these areas, or closer than the minimum distances that are in the regulations, you must obtain prior Permission from the CAA to do so. 

So after checking the weather conditions via an app called UAV Forecast in addition to checking for any notifications to airmen we were ready to check our distances from nearby structures, vessels and people. You can check for notifications to airmen by over at The Uk's notam map.

What's a NOTAM? Well it's a system that's in place to increase air traffic safety and to reduce accidents or near misses. It's a way for people to notify others of their flights and activities that others need to be aware of. For example their might be a hot air balloon flight planned, a NOTAM is required for this. 

Checking the weather is equally as important! You need to ensure you are flying in conditions your drone is capable of handling, see your manufacturers specification for more information. Also flying on the edge of these limits could make your flight unsafe, as we all know the weather can change quickly! It's often the gusts that could catch you out! Fortunately on this day we had perfect weather, no Notams but a fairly busy beach to contend with. After all it was early on a Friday evening and the weather was sweet!

Take off!

So after explaining the details of flying safely we headed out onto Eastney Beach. Not long after we heard a drone flying nearby, as we looked around we noticed it was flying far to close to people and the road. We then spotted the pilot, he was sat on the beach literally glued to the screen and not watching the drone at all! He was flying illegally and potentially putting people in danger. I used this as an example of what not to do and explained what he was doing wrong. Fortunately shortly after he landed, and we didn't feel the need to notify him of our flight. It is unfortunately common to see people flying drones illegally, our aim is to promote legal and safe flying. It's super important!

Although tempting to look at the screen constantly it's so important to maintain visual line of sight with the drone. To date we've been operating with one pilot undertaking flying and camera duties which is a very hard task! We've just invested in a second controller for our larger drone and we're mega excited to start obtaining footage we couldn't before due to safety reasons. 

So we found a clear area of the beach, we spoke to one lady who was on the edge of being 30m away to check she was Ok with the flight who actually complained about the other drone pilot! We reassured her that we will be flying legally and safely.  I decided as the competition winners are hobbyists and had not flown before that it was safest for me to take off and land as the distances could only be increased to 30m take off and landing. Once in the air I handed the control over to our first pilot, gave them an overview of the controls, another safety briefing and said enjoy! 

When in the air I talked them through how to take photos and videos and we tried various settings. 

Here's a few more photos, courtesy of Love Eastney:

Did you miss our blog on kataskopos / top down / birds eye photographs? find it here!

We had three batteries with us and used each one, they last approximately 23 minutes each. The 2.5 hour meet up quite literally flew past and was evidently enjoyed by all. They all took to it like ducks to water! Naturally when flying for the first several times it will feel alien. However after plenty of practice you can become much more experienced continually increasing your skill. 

So onto the other exciting part!

Aerial Imagery

Every one captured some amazing imagery. Whilst they were in the sky I was talking them through kataskopos - top down - birds eye photos and how effective and fun they are! Their were a great selection of photos and videos captured. Most of the photographs were taken in auto mode as to fly and take control of the camera is quite a tricky task especially on your first go! 

Here's a link to the photos and videos straight from the SD card for you to edit however you like! Feel free to share them on your social media but please do credit us and tag us in. We're super excited to see your creative side! The link will be available for 7 days from today.

 Eastney Beach - Captured from a DJI Mavic Pro at Golden Hour

Eastney Beach - Captured from a DJI Mavic Pro at Golden Hour

A Kataskopos - Birds Eye View - Top Down Photo of Eastney Beach at Golden Hour

Here's some of the feedback we've received. It's so good we're thinking about setting up a hobby flyers introduction course!

We had an amazing evening with Mike & Sara learning to fly a drone. After learning all about safety requirements we found the perfect spot on a busy Eastney beach to practice our flying skills & what fun it was!

I was a bit apprehensive at first, the thought of having control of the fragile looking but expensive bit of kit worried me, but once Mike had clarified each control with me I got a bit carried away with the fun of it & was trying to spot our group on the beach for a selfie.


I couldn’t believe how stable but responsive the drone was, even with the gusts of the off-shore breeze. The hardest thing was remembering to keep an eye on the actual drone while using the controls & considering photo or video shots from the screen all at the same time, but this would get easier as you got used to the controls.


I would highly recommend the experience to anyone with an interest in drones and think a drone lesson would make a perfect & original birthday gift
— Sheila Mackie of Love Eastney
Just a quick note on behalf of me and Nichola to say a huge ‘Thank You’ to Michael Woods @ Solent Sky Services for giving us the opportunity to go drone flying with him down the beach at Eastney.

It goes without saying that the weather was fantastic and we had a very hot and enjoyable evening out in the sunshine.

As you can imagine, Mike’s incredibly knowledgeable and we had a very comprehensive safety briefing before getting the chance to take the controls of his drone and take a some photos and videos.

Mike made it look very easy (he handled all the take-offs and landings) and once the drone reached 50 metres, he gave us a quick explanation of the controls befopre handing them over.

We couldn’t believe how easy it was to fly and we both loved taking control. The drone was incredibly stable and simply hovers if you release all of the controls. And you can see the view from the drone’s camera on the control panel.

After flying up and down the beach (I can’t believe how two and a half hours flew by) and taking some photos and videos, we’re now just looking forward to seeing the results from our efforts.

Thanks, again, Mike. You’re a star!!!
— Steve Bimpson of Just Think Big