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Posted by on Feb 4, 2013 in Blog, Video

Racton Tower Rise

It’s all in the follow-through…

Perhaps I mean follow-up. Yes. This is a follow-up from yesterday’s scout mission, where I discovered what I didn’t know at the time was Racton Monument, but I was too far away from it to see anything properly. I resolved to come back and do better.

Well I did come back, and only a day later.  Today, I’ll have you know, I half killed myself trudging across acre after acre of muddy field and windswept grassbank this afternoon with 10 kilos of batteries, a metal tripod, field monitor, transmitter and hex, all in an effort to get close enough to film the ruin properly for you all. Especially you, Nicky. I thought my heart was actually going to explode in several places,  but  I stopped before it did and when I could breath again, filmings could commence. I was too knackered to be annoyed that there was car sitting right next to the tower, which meant I could have driven there and avoided all that death business.

Never mind that, though – look at the view !

Now that's the sort of tower you could launch a hexacopter out of....

Now that’s the sort of tower you could launch a hexacopter out of….

This time Special M had erroneously placed her family functions at higher priority than her spotting duties, but apprentice flight assistant Mr McT put in a late appearance to fulfil several vital roles which today were to include ground camera, sherpa duty, spotting and even some security.

When is a folly not a folly ?

When it’s a monument. Or a ruin, or a tower, or a castle. People have lots of different names for it, but it’s definitely not a folly like someone told it me was yesterday ! Nor is it in Funtington, but just up the road in Racton, which as far as I can see consists of 4 houses and this ruin, but sounds less ridiculous than Funtington, so we’ll go with it. I had something approaching ‘permission’ to film here today from Racton Park Farm Ranger Keith who I met on yesterday’s scout, and who directed me here…

I’ve read a bit about the history of the place, which sounds plausible, and the ghost, which doesn’t. The strongest evidence for the ghost is one witness who said that it has been seen ‘throwing bricks down to the ground’. By which she meant she had witnessed a single falling brick in a 237 yr old ruin full of precariously balanced bricks, in a field full of wind. Who even writes this down ?

Never mind – I’m here for the bits that definitely are here, and still standing, before someone turns them into a luxury home and puts a massive fence up.

Cracks in the Stone

Racton Tower is a true ruin not only in that it is dilapidated, but also that ruined humans have got to it with their silly spray paints, crack pipes, condoms and bonfires.

And indeed they were still at it as I got there – 2 chavs were hot-boxing a car parked right out of the front of the monument. They ignored me for the first 2 flights, which I launched from the opposite side of the tower to where they were, but then Paul arrived and they got out and started taking an unhealthy interest in my hex and how much everything was worth.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to explain that inbuilt GPS tracking means it can’t be stolen, as some quick thinking from Mr McT kicked in, and he convinced them not only that he owned the place, but also that he’d called the police, and they made a rather swift exit.

Recton Monument. Some say it's haunted. I'd say that's bollocks.

Recton Monument. Some say it’s haunted. I’d say that’s bollocks.

Concentration ++

Which left the filming, which was maximum difficult, and maximum exciting, mainly because of the first one. It’s a level 4 fly-site. There were trees everywhere, and those trees were especially the kind that seem purpose-built to ensnare passing UAVs and tend to have ends and smaller twigs that aren’t very visible from any sort of distance. Paths back to ground from on high were very limited and required careful manoeuvring in the 12 mph wind, as often I was being blown towards bare-branched trees in 3 directions, and stone in the other one, sometimes during a second-level fail-safe fast descent, which is always exciting.

Right to the edge…

I’m a little bit ashamed to say I flew 4 flights out of 8 to 2nd level failsafe, where the throttle range drops to zero output, except the top 10%, which pretty much forces you to land, or drops your craft very sharply if it is high when it happens. Worst case was battery was drained to 15.2V, which means it was 14.2 under load. Not good. I’ll have a word with myself and land earlier, but you know – when you’ve got the scenery in front of you, you want to get as much of it as you can, and if you could just have 10 seconds more

This was also the first time I’d flown my big hex indoors (used to do it all the time when it was much smaller, more agile quad), so whilst I was fairly brave to go for an inside vertical ascent shot, I did bottle it, and shot upwards much faster than I wanted to as I realised I had no GPS lock a second after it being there for take-off, and there was mystery wind (let’s call it ghost wind, shall we ?) in the huge circular tower which kept pushing me towards the edges. That’s also why I didn’t yaw (rotate) as I ascended in case I had unforeseen ‘toilet bowl’ effect, and point rotation could become a spiral which is very difficult to directionalise and rescue when you can only be directly underneath the craft, and its orientation is constantly changing and it’s difficult to see how close your props are to the wall. But I did have perfect LoS all the way up, and my piloting skills and unsophisticated brief ascent trajectory ensured the building was never in very much danger of a collision with me.

Sonically speaking

Music today is a bit Trevor Morris and a bit borrowed from that excellent genocidal bloodbath of a spaceship game ‘The Reap’, the music to which was released free-for-all stylee back in 1997.

Nice bit of ivy there...

My videos mostly avoid showing all the vice squad case file stuff on the floor… look, here’s some nice ivy !

Dark towers against the Winter sky...

Dark towers against the Winter sky…


In the day, it’s a lovely countryside monument for passing walkers. Later, it’s the ideal municipal building if your thing is witchcraft, dogging, or crack.

More from me…later. Thanx for watching.