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Posted by on Mar 30, 2013 in Blog, Video

Sky Towers & Sand Banks

Winter Blues…

Yep, Winter hangs on with icy, windy claws, way past its sell-by date, but undeterred, I don set of gloves B2, and venture forth into the furious winds on a quest for filmic excitement and self-educational flying fun. It’s a level 5 fly site, with maximum danger everywhere, so I have my full wits about me, my flight-paths planned, and my carefully calculated risks evaluated and minimised.

You can't say it's not pretty epic...

You can’t say it’s not pretty epic…

Location, location

Today I had trawled the entire South Coast, from the East side of Southsea as far as you can go West along the front towards Gunwharf. I stopped at several potential places, but various reasons marked each as not great places for flyings.

And then I found myself at the end of the A3, and a gateway through a large fortified wall revealed a lovely bit of beach front, almost entirely deficit of people and flying hazards, and as close as I can practically get to the Spinnaker Tower without anyone getting cross about it. Yes, the beauty of the big wall is that it protects the residential area behind it so the few drivers and people using that road will not be distracted by any low level flying I do.

It’s a horrible day, so not very many people out, but the odd couple on the battlements, so I was aware of them, and everyone there was aware of me, and most stopped to watch…

Got your little telemetry blockers going have you ?

Got your little telemetry blockers going have you ? Probably not…

Privacy-wise, I’m not too worried about the Naval base off to the right – if they didn’t want people looking at it they wouldn’t have built a massive viewing platform right next to it.

And I will be far away enough from people’s houses to not give them anything to worry about either.

Talking of massive viewing platforms, The Spinnaker Tower is mainly responsible for today’s interesting skyline, but we can also thank Southsea for the view east, Gunwharf Quays (and the Navy) for the view west, and Gosport for the ‘not an island’ to the south. North, it’s a direct view over the end of the A3 and out over the city.

Battle Formation

Risky business...

Risky business…

I knew the wind was bad before I left, and knew it would be worse on the South Coast at height, but knowing how my Tiger motors can deal with this sort of thing I thought I’d go into battle with them on your behalf.

For added incentive to excellent piloting, I did a lot of flying over the sea and at height, where the winds were at their most unpredictable, furious and blustery. Both my throttle and my Naza-M flight controller (rigidly locked in GPS mode the whole time) were tested to the max, and together, we did a decent job of holding our place in the air, and didn’t fall in the sea. This is the sort of confidence you only get from doing a thorough pre-flight technical check.


The normal ratio of usable footage to flight time is 1 minute per 8 mins of flight. Today, I knew I’d be lucky to get 1 min per 20 mins in the air. And it was awful. I have never been kicked so hard by wind as I was today. I might do a video with that in so you can see just¬†how hard.

Wind isn't so bad down here...

Wind isn’t so bad down here…

So, knowing how unlikely I was to get any decent footage, I recorded it all anyway, and in the few brief moments of wind abatement that were there at all, I did mange to get some things to see, some of which are not shaking as furiously as other bits were.

You know me – I’m doing the flight – might as well film and upload it ;)


Was it coincidence that a Navy ship was going past at the one time I mysteriously lost control signal, and RTH was triggered, flying my craft back to me and landing it ? I don’t know, but I had no control problems for any of the other flights, and wasn’t flying outside a range where that could have been a problem.

The view from above

Well – it was never going to be the best video I’ve ever shot, but I think it’s a reasonably heroic attempt given the conditions, and it’s all about the trying rather than the winning. And the ‘not-falling-in-the-sea-with-your-new-GoPro3’. So I’m calling it a win anyway.

When the weather next lets me I’ll go find something else to fly round.

See you then.

There is 20 degrees worth of wind going on here. I think the view is worth it.

There is 20 degrees worth of wind going on here, in addition to the 40 degrees my gimbal can absorb.