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Posted by on Jul 1, 2013 in Blog, Video

Forest Flyers

Can’t see the wood

…for the Trees, they say. But today I can see both, and I’m just off the A272 in Hampshire to grab some aerial shots of the lovely bit of woodland I found myself driving past on my way to my intended fly site, which was high on the South Downs (again).

Top down on my slightly spatially deficit launch site...

Top down on my slightly spatially deficit launch site…

Fly-style

This is actually a L4 fly-site, with a lot of danger around everywhere, mainly in the form of trees, and narrow fields of view. Any RTH action (once, shown in vid) MUST be above the level of the trees when called, and any GPS drift had to be tightly controlled as I manoeuvred through some pretty tight spaces in the tree canopy.

Whilst doing this meant high-ish gains, guaranteeing craft fast reaction, and worked in that I didn’t crash, it did mean that some of my moves were less smooth than they could be – we’ll see how much my gimbal forgives that in the edit :)

Yes, but is it safe ?

No, if you haven’t thought about the various situations that may arise in a given location, but in this case, I can turn a ‘No’ into a ‘Yes’ with my plan for what happens should I be in the air and cars start appearing along the 1 road I can’t help but overfly… this not a ‘congested area’ as eluded to in the CAA guidelines – it is a tiny narrow country road that had no cars at all for the first 15 minutes I was there, and only about 6 in total over the entire 35 minute session.

So, having decided it would be OK to cautiously overfly the road at height, the key is to where I will overfly it and for how long.

I am lucky in that in several places close to my launch spot we have 100% tree canopy road coverage. As long as I only overfly that, in the event that cars start showing up, it is only a short easy move to to hover over the trunk of whichever tree I am nearest, thus posing no danger to the cars, even if I should fall out of the sky…

As soon as I hear cars, if I am anywhere near the road, I will immediately gain height, fast, and begin moving to the nearest safe spot. This technique worked flawlessly for the 4 times I needed it, and not only were passing cars not in danger, they couldn’t see me either because of all that height and tree canopy, so no distraction-factor either.

The Flaw in the plan

One I didn’t see coming was that a car might arrive, and park up next to me while I was trying to land, and in something of a hurry to do so due to rapidly expiring batteries.

I remained calm, did not panic, and gently lowered the craft onto the roof of my car before the people had exited the vehicle. With hindsight, I should have put it down with my car between it and them, but I was having no performance problems, or reasons to think anything would go wrong. And nothing did. Very nice people too.

Arc Welding for beginners…

Initially I had planned to just burn 1 or 2 batteries here, but in the end I stayed for 3, and would have done more, and gone on somewhere else if the technology department hadn’t surprised me again.

Yep, this time, due to a slightly less than ideal power-up, although I was not to know it at the time, the deans connectors on the battery pack and the craft had arced, and actually welded themselves together.

Nothing I could do would prise those 2 connectors apart after the flight, and all-too-aware of the dangers of trying to lever them with a knife, guaranteeing shorting, shocks, sparks and worse, and being obviously unwilling to go home with a powered craft in the boot. I had no option but to disconnect the battery from its Deans, which I did with a reassuring amount of brute force. That’ll need a new connector then.

I’ve always hated Deans connectors – it’s a rubbish way to connect things. I will be changing to APP, EC3 or EC 5, I think. I haven’t decided which yet.

Obviously, that was the end of the flyings, and it was left to Aeroxcraft to save the day – would I have enough decent footage to make a flight log video from only 3 short flights ?

Cinema-world

Yes I would. I’m shooting in Medium FOV again today, at 60 FPS on the GoPro 3, and mostly slowing that down to 30 FPS, as I moved quicker than Id like a lot of the time, and I wanted time to appreciate the detail in the things I was flying past. ProTune is off, as we’re in failing light, and there is only a minimal correction and colour / levels grade applied later to bring out the greens and yellows a bit – it was quite a pale sun.

As the Aeroxcraft continues to do its magnificent thing, the only limit to my filmings was the piloting.

In places I did OK – in others, it’s a bit shoddy, as I move quite jerkily sometimes to avoid the various obstacles in my path. So, out of 3 7-minute flights, I got 15 mins of usable footage, my favourite 5 of which I’ve shared here. Enjoy.

Soundtracking…

It’s my favourite Trevor Morris again, with pieces from the 2nd and 3rd series of the Tudors this time ! I do hope he doesn’t mind. At least I bought them…

I haven’t forgotten those rock pools. Seaside, I will see you soon.

JW