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Posted by on Jul 16, 2013

Chalk Pit Wind Chasing

Chalk Pit Wind Chasing

A Whiter shade of shale… Sorry about that. But what I lack in punning excellence I hopefully make up for in brave(ish) piloting, and today I am being tested to the max by everything nature and engineering have to throw at me, as I manfully take to the skies over Portsdown Chalk Pits, just over a bit from Portsmouth. I’ve got my friend Tudor with me, who is both spotting (and heroically keeping the dogs away) and floating about on the ground with my GoPro 2 and his own muchly superior Nex 5, the footage from which hasn’t quite made it over to me in time for this video, but will be very interesting to see as I’m planning to mount one of those on my flyer at some point, and it’ll be nice to see the quality first-hand before I do. Location, Location Ray, the plane guy I met up at Butser last week had kindly sent me the link to this place, and cliffs, and chalk quarries...

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Posted by on Jul 13, 2013

Tower View – Mini Scout Flight

Tower View – Mini Scout Flight

Into the Blue, briefly. It was lovely sunny afternoon, and I was down the South Coast with a flyer in the boot, Special Assistant M in the passenger seat, and not much wind on the anemometer. Right, I thought, let’s do an experimental fly of the very Southern-most bit of land I can reasonably get to. And that turns out to be the official end of the A3, where we have a large circular stone seating area in front of one of those Ye Olde Sailors-style pubs. To the South, away from that my launch area, is the sea, where I will spend most of this flight out of all harms way (except to my craft, should it all go horribly wrong). Sky Towers And in the distance, though closer than I have ever flown to it, is my old adversary the Spinnaker Tower, whose looks and height virtually demand that I try and film it from as close as possible whilst making the minimum amount of people cross...

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Posted by on Jul 12, 2013

King of the Hills XL

King of the Hills XL

At last, we meet again… That’s right folks – I’m up as high as I can reasonably go, at the grand daddy of local viewpoints, Butser, off the A3 in Hampshire (UK). That’s why there’s 3 videos. There might be less than that when you see this, but the others will be coming soon. I’m slightly to the west side of the main run up to the mast, and I’m focusing my aerial efforts into getting the awesome array of valleys to the South and West. The mast deserves a separate flight session all to itself, and this isn’t it. That’s not far off. But you won’t be disappointed in today’s efforts. It’s all pretty epic up the top of the highest hill in Hampshire. Weather Report It had been quite windy earlier, but as the afternoon set in, it died right off, and as soon as that happens I immediately think of places to go on calm days that might not work so well on more windy ones…...

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Posted by on Jul 8, 2013

Field Lines & Forest Hills

Field Lines & Forest Hills

Starting out low Remember my last visit to Stoner Hill, in Froxfield, particularly the part 1 video, which mainly focused on the North Face ? It’s a very difficult fly from the top, but the view is so epic I am duty bound to try and find other ways to commit it to film. And today, mainly by chance, I found one – fly from the bottom of the hangars instead ! Yes, I get the same scenery, but from another angle, and flying from here I replace the difficult, restricted-viewing-window, woodland-based launches of previously with nice, easy, big, wide-open, spacious ones here. Launch Control But still, it took quite a bit of driving to locate a suitable take-off site on the lower edge of Stoner Hill. In the end, I found 2 fields separated by a helpful public footpath, and so was able to launch from that. In the danger department, we’re not up for much fun if we go down in the trees, but if anything goes...

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Posted by on Jul 6, 2013

Town Rise – Petersfield

Town Rise – Petersfield

To a small field in the middle… …of Petersfield, the home town of me, and a fair few of you reading this, I’d bet. I don’t often venture right into the center of town, but this is the closest I’m safely going to get, and it’s an almost windless night, so let’s get in the air and see what’s what. All About the Sky. And the Ground. And the Lake. The sky is very much what’s what. I arrived with my good friend Rich just as golden hour kicked in, and wasted no time in strapping on an 8000 pack, and pushing some sky past that lens. The sky was ablaze with high cirrus and various other noctilucent cloudforms, which only got better as the sun went down, until it was finally just a blazing orangey red on the horizon. Beautiful. Rich and I sat entranced. Rich more than me – I was trying to make sure the gimbal was aimed mostly at the right thing at the right...

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Posted by on Jul 5, 2013

South Downs Sky Rise

South Downs Sky Rise

To the hills once more… Just never the ones I’m trying to see… Today’s flyings took me back to the site I found a couple of weeks ago, in the foothills of the South Downs, close to Bepton and Didling. Last time you didn’t see the flights because gimbal settings were awful, and this time you’re not going to see it because my take-off area was full of sheep ! I like sheep, and have no wish to worry them. So back in the car I got, and after a bit of random driving about, eventually found myself heading steeply upwards, and then down the sort of road that might have stopped being a road a couple of miles back… By the time I realised I was actually driving the South Downs Way, I had come dangerously close to grounding my car twice, and the track in front of me seemed to go on ad infinitum into the distance with no turning places, or ways to get back. So...

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Posted by on Jul 1, 2013

Forest Flyers

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). 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 ?...

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Posted by on Jun 27, 2013

Drive-by Flyings – Guildford / Godalming

Drive-by Flyings – Guildford / Godalming

Go where the wind takes you. Or more specifically, to Guildford, if you’re dropping a friend there. Having done that, I went in the pursuit of great heights, and interesting things to see on the ground. One-shot wonder I’ll be making just 3 flights today before I get rained off, but at least they’ll be at 3 sites we don’t see very often, and one of them is my parents’ immaculate and beautiful garden. So enjoy that. First Flight: The Mount, Guildford Much excites up at the highest place overlooking Guildford, as there was competition for the skies ! Just as I was about to take off I spotted another UAV, doing a straight rise and hover at the other end of the hillside. I took off and flew over to investigate further, but as soon as I gained any sort of height, they had descended and gone. I went looking for them in the car briefly, but no joy – would have been nice to say hello and...

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Posted by on Jun 25, 2013

Fields of Gold

Fields of Gold

Red sky at night… Flyers delight. I wasn’t planning to go to the flyings today, but at 8.30 pm decided I probably should, given the lack of wind, and nice, unusually clear skies. I planned to drive to Petersfield Heath, and look at the golf course, something I still haven’t done with my new ultra-slinky brushless setup. And then I found myself driving past all that, and on along the B2146 towards South Harting resolved that as the sun was almost down already, I would stop at the first place that looked a) accessible and b) like it might be nice place to film something I haven’t seen for a while, or at all. In it for the colour That place transpired to be public footpath right at the North Entrance to South Harting, where a nice take-off area on a public bridleway type thing split 2 large fields, 1 of fairly standard long green stuff (I’ll assume it’s grass but it’s probably some sort of crop) and more...

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Posted by on Jun 24, 2013

Skate Park Sunset

Skate Park Sunset

The Light fades over Petersfield… This one’s going to start off a photo-blog, and then get added to when I’ve done the video until it’s a proper one. Which is now – video complete, so lets get today’s flight log logged… Urban Flyer I’m here to test the recent changes I’ve made to my craft, which include some levelling on the front rotors, and to film a nice sunset, this time from the middle of my home town, Petersfield. It’ll be a nice change from all the countryside stuff I’ve been doing recently, but with lots of Spring greens around to give us an interesting view on the ground beneath us… The Test Zone The 5 flights I completed here today proved that I was correct in my most recent assumption that my craft was yawing left without my input because I no longer had a perfectly coplanar rotor alignment, following some of my arm extension plates being mangled, (and then re-straightened) after a recent terrible crash. The good...

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Posted by on Jun 21, 2013

Spring Falls

Spring Falls

The sun sets on Spring for another year …and I’m up at Ditcham Park at the top of a very high hill. No change there then. In celebration of it being almost the longest day, I arrived very late, and got in the air just as the sun was about to disappear over the horizon. I’ve chosen this fly-site because I’m aware that the rotation problems I’m having whenever I move forward may lead to loss of orientation, and a range of circumstances that might culminate in a heavy landing, so I was after a location that had lots of the very best thing to crash into – and that’s corn, which surrounded me in most fields, like a velvet cushion, should it all go horribly wrong… In theory and practice… As it happened, although the yaw problem was very much in evidence, because I was expecting it, it wasn’t the end of the world to compensate for it and generally make the craft go where I want it to....

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Posted by on Jun 20, 2013

Stoner Hill Highs Part 2: South-West Rise

Stoner Hill Highs Part 2: South-West Rise

The best direction is up… Well after the horrors of the North valleys, with their GPS blocking, jetstream style winds and tiny viewing windows and all those trees, on the other side it’s a bit different, with lots more open space, and the best wooded valley I have ever seen, immediately off to the left. As soon as I crossed the style into the take-off field, I could see things were very different to my last (Winter) flight here, when the grass was short enough to easily accommodate a take-off, and there were sheep, keeping it so. No, it’s too long… Today, as you’ll see, there’s no sheep (bonus), but grass is now growing quite literally ‘wild’ and is about half a meter tall. Beautiful but unhelpful. There remained only one spot to take off from where the grass was trodden down enough – on the path that leads through to the woods. The problem with this is that my normal fly site is up the other end of...

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Posted by on Jun 19, 2013

Stoner Hill Highs – Part 1: North Face

Stoner Hill Highs – Part 1: North Face

Go, Go Aerial Cinecam Another fine Spring day, and I’m in the air over Stoner Hill, getting enough footage to make 10 videos, let alone 2 or 3. And all from 5 battery packs. We start then with Part 1, the first flight off the… North Face This is a very dangerous fly-site – I hate flying here as much as I love the view and footage it produces.  Even on days considered windless, once you get out over that valley, the wind is always massive. From the second my craft leaves the ground to the second it returns, my heart is thumping fit to burst. Why so stressy ? GPS signal here is ropey as hell, visibility of craft is restricted to a 30 degree angle once it gets into the valley, and those evil gale force winds suck upwards and outwards, and cause the sort  of craft-rocking turbulence that I rarely see at other sites. It’s a nightmare. One tiny mistake, and I could go down in...

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Posted by on Jun 17, 2013

South Downs Sky Surfing XL

South Downs Sky Surfing XL

Up in the sky and it’s full of win ! The tests are over, everything’s fine, and it’s time to go grab some awesome scenery and get it down on film, hopefully without horrible crash disasters and other film-ruining surprises. This is an XL blog – we’ll start with one video, and then add more as the days go on, so worth checking back if there aren’t at least 2 videos here yet. One may even end up on Vimeo, for Xtra high quality… Lost in Hampshire I’m having an extraordinary run of luck at the moment with driving to a potential fly site, getting lost on the way there, wandering off exploring down country lanes and ending up somewhere different, but just as good, if not better. Today was like that. I was trying to get back to the site of my last Hill Rise blog, where a chronic gimbal miscalculation rendered all my otherwise brilliant footage of the amazing location all but useless. Could I find that...

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Posted by on Jun 11, 2013

Elsted Common Narrated Flight

Elsted Common Narrated Flight

Same video, different noises. Hey peoples. Haven’t done a narrated jobby for ages, so while I’m in the test flying stages of AC1 V5.0, now seems like as good a time as any. So please enjoy (or mute, as is your wont) my extended ramblings over the entire flight, ruminating on such things as how windy it is, how well the gimbal might be doing, piloting commentary, and why APC can’t f**king deliver anything properly. If you’re wondering why it looks a bit different to the last version, I’ve turned the grading up a bit (too much if we’re honest), and shifted it a bit more sunset yellow / red. That’s all though – no stabilisation. Righty – one whole flight coming up… and this token picture....

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Posted by on Apr 26, 2013

Cloud Connected

Cloud Connected

The misty sands. I was planning on heading into QE Country park for some sunlit woodland flying, but before that, as I was driving along the South coast on a brilliantly bright and sunny afternoon, suddenly, as if from nowhere, a large bank of cloud / fog / mist started moving rapidly inland from out at sea to the South East. I’d never seen weather conditions quite like it, and had my hex in the back, so overjoyed at the possibility that the cloud may have actually come to me for a change, and that I might be able to legally get above it without breaking the 400 ft rule (usually impossible), I parked up, got down on the beach and launched skywards for what would be 8 exhilarating (and at times quite tense) 6-7 minute flights. Yes the cloud is perfect, but the wind is pretty full-on – most of the time manageable, but sometimes less so. Fortunately, it was blowing inland, and was fairly constant. Testings But...

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Posted by on Apr 23, 2013

Spring Golds

Spring Golds

Back in the air… Well since crash time last week, the requisite repairs are complete, a few changes have been made, and 3 test flight sessions and 2 test flight missions mark the end of the post-crash testing phase, but most of that is too dull to make videos about. This is the last test flight, which is on nice safe Elsted Heath. Whilst this is regular ground for me, and therefore not particularly new or exciting if you watch a lot of my videos, it is one the few places that has a nice cushioned heath surface (heather, dead gorse, moss) and easy recovery in case we have a repeat of last week’s power fail action. Except when I’m flying over the trees, but we’ll let that pass. I didn’t fly anywhere near the quarry, so no cinematic excitement there, but the sun was doing some quite good ‘setting things’, and I needed to evaluate the video quality given that I’ve just changed the camera gimbal mount. Also,...

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Posted by on Apr 16, 2013

Buriton High Dives

Buriton High Dives

Crash, bang, wallet. Well, just 1 day after I fitted my landing gear and re-wired the hex, I took it out for a test flight to Buriton Recreation Grounds, to show the Petersfield Aero Modellers, for whom I was later giving a talk on Multi-rotors. The first 6 flights went without a hitch, and I was all ready to pack up, when someone (probably me) suggested one more flight, while the light was still there, so I strapped on my 7th battery pack of the day, and launched into the sky as normal. I gained about 40 or 50 feet, and began cruising round at that sort of altitude, safely out of the way of the kids playing football and the various dogs running about. I was getting the usual kicking from the wind, but everything seemed to be going well, when suddenly the hex lurched right, corrected itself, then lost it completely and flipped its way to the ground, where it impacted with enough force to break 3...

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Posted by on Apr 10, 2013

AC1 V4.1 Upgrade

AC1 V4.1 Upgrade

Standby for… Landing. It’s been ages since I could go flying. Wretched wind / rain / work  nonsense. Finally got time to sit down and fit my new Aeroxcraft landing gear to my 550. This took much longer than I thought, as I had to rotate the bottom plate which meant taking all the legs off, re-positioning the flight controller and re-wiring everything, hopefully giving me a much more stable camera mount than the previous system and at long last, a decent centre of gravity. It might be only changing the landing gear, but that is a pretty big change in the way things are done in the craft. Lots of components have been re-positioned, and we are now at last able to use an under-slung battery pack giving us (hopefully) excellent balance with the gimbal at the front. This should mean that the Naza-M flight controller has less correction to do to keep an unbalanced craft stable, so in theory should provide smoother footage by not making the...

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Posted by on Mar 30, 2013

Sky Towers & Sand Banks

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. 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...

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