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Posted by on Apr 5, 2014

Drive-By Flyings, Chalfont

Drive-By Flyings, Chalfont

  The Lure of Gold… There’s something really quite good about the particular flaxen yellows of a massive field of flowering rapeseed. And they’re not doing the flowering for very long, so as soon as I see one, I know it’s time to go drive-by flying, and see if I can find a field of it that has parking and isn’t locked. Today’s field was a chance find on the hill-top road out through Clanfield, then through to Chalton and beyond, nearly all the way down to Denmead. Having passed up about 30 alternative fields as having one thing or other wrong with them on the way here and the sun was not far off setting, I stopped here mainly because there was lots of parking space, it was adjacent to a public footpath, didn’t have a 300 ft electricity pylon in it, and because I didn’t think I’d find a better one before the sun disappeared. Swings and Roundabouts Once in the air, it transpired that I’d picked...

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Posted by on Jul 20, 2013

The Morning After…

The Morning After…

…that horrible crash, all night re-builds have been done, a day of testing has already taken place, and AC1 is back in the air, now at version 5.3… So it’s not the morning, nor is it the day after. It’s sunset, and 2 days later, but that’s not a phrase is it ? Round 2 – Open Field Today’s open field should have excellent GPS reception, has only 1 big important building I’m 99% certain I can stay away from, even if my craft goes batshit on me, and for that reason, I am launching far far away from it nearer the other end of the field. Not too close though. There are cows in the field beyond, though I know from experience they really couldn’t care less about the presence of my multirotor. They can barely be bothered to even look up, though of course this is probably partly because I was always at reasonable height when directionally near them… So – 3 flights, and 1 of them...

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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 9, 2013

Sailplanes by Sunset

Sailplanes by Sunset

Cruising the Petersfield Skies… That’s technically cruising the heath, but I’m pretty sure I don’t mean that. I said there’d be an Abbey today, didn’t I ? I was wrong. No, it’s too windy to risk being blown about into ancient stone walls, so off I headed, into the sunset, to more spacious locations, and this sunset was over Petersfield lake and heath, because I haven’t flown here properly with my new camera setup yet, and I know you all like a bit of lake action if there’s some going… Taking the evening air… Apart from the odd Chinook, I had the skies pretty much to myself, but the same can’t be said for the ground. Lots of people out for an evening stroll, and who can blame them ? Certainly not me. And most of the people I met today were great – (Hi Mick !), and even the ones with dogs were mostly aware, considerate, decent people, with well trained animals… The Lunatic Fringe Just occasionally, I...

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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 Jun 17, 2013

South Downs End Photo Blog

South Downs End Photo Blog

It’s the end of another sunny Sunday, and if you know me at, I’ll be up some massive hill, flying off the side of it. Today is no exception. We’re at the end of the South Downs. I say the end. The end of this bit of them. We’re overlooking Didley and Cocking. Who thinks of these names ? 4 of these pics are screen-grabs from the raw unedited video – but which 4 ? Answers on a postcard, but not to me. I can promise you some truly exceptional video tomorrow – but for now feast your eyes on this glorious bit of Hampshire, and the breath-taking clouds going on over it as the sun goes down on South Downs End… You’ll find these rewardingly large and a lot of them. See you soon...

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Posted by on Jun 11, 2013

The Golden Spring XL

The Golden Spring XL

Moor sun please ! Yep – I’m back at Elsted Heath, this time making it to the site uninjured and without breaking anything important. I’m here to test my Aeroxcraft Brushless Gimbal, and this is the first flight of the day. Settings… I’m doing 1080, 30 FPS, and no ProTune because we’re in light that is soon to be dying, and we know the GoPro does much better with all that turned off, as the sun makes its exit. I’m on an 8000 maH Zippy Flitemax LiPo, which is going to give exactly 7 minutes 20 secs worth on this flight… Still haven’t programmed the gimbal to drop 90 degrees yet. Lazy. 20 degrees still looks nice. And we do have a working FPV system today – a miracle considering the shitty little cables they plug into the VTX with… I have never seen a more ridiculous connection, and my one is dodgy, despite being almost new. I say working. I can see, but the picture is fuzzy as...

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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 Mar 22, 2013

Sand Pits @ Sunset – Episode 2

Sand Pits @ Sunset – Episode 2

High Times Spin Panoramas in glorious Technicolour.  Watched Part 1 yet ? This is the bit after that. This episode sponsored by the Cat’s Protection League.   Yes, I am still using my unique location-based freedom from responsibility (see part 1), to do some high flyings over treacherous waters. We start high, and get to the lower stuff at the end. Conditions were good – there wasn’t that much wind to be any sort of threat to control, but it was there enough to have an unhelpfully profound effect on filming, during descents especially – prop wash + wind can’t ever be good. We’ll see how de-shake copes with all the long fades… Even if it’s duff video – I really don’t care – that sand pit isn’t going anywhere, and I’ll do it better next time with more wind-defying equipment as time goes on – for now – I got some great flying fun, and some amazing screen-grabs, and I’m happy with that. For anyone wondering why I...

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Posted by on Mar 19, 2013

Stoner Hill XL

Stoner Hill XL

At-height and In-depth Hey kids – and welcome to an expanded flight log.  This time it’s longer, and has got some behind-the-scenes stuff in it, as I report on Thursday’s Stoner Hill mission… Just as I suspect that fishing is mainly an excuse for sitting by a nice lake all day, flying gets me out wandering through my favourite bits of the beautiful British countryside and there is a certain joy and freedom in scouting potential fly-sites on foot, before you even get off the ground. So this time, I thought I’d include some extra video from my head-cam, which shows getting to the site, a bit of set-up, and hopefully gives you some idea what goes on that you don’t normally see. Don’t worry – if all that bores you silly, then skip straight to video 2, which is all the smooth, high stuff, or part 3 which is the exciting, fast, low stuff. Yep, there’s a lot more that goes on before and after the flights themselves....

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Posted by on Mar 15, 2013

Litten Lane Photoblog

Litten Lane Photoblog

Up, up and away… Today I’ve been having multi-site adventures up high on Stoner Hill in Froxfield, having not been there since the middle of Autumn last year. Let’s see what it looks like as the last of Winter disappears, and Spring is in the air. I am very much in the air with it. In fact, there were so many photos I liked from today’s flyings that I thought I’d award them their own blog, and do a separate one to the inevitable video and flight log report, which’ll be along on Sunday, or thereabouts. Until then, here’s some good ones… everything on-board is a screen grab from the GoPro 3 Black Edition video, and everything on the ground is the same, but from my head-cam GoPro 2, which always gives me a headache to wear, but does at least stay put… Click for full resolution, then use arrows or mouse to browse left / right....

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Posted by on Mar 11, 2013

Forest Flyers

Forest Flyers

Slightly sunny Saturday afternoons… I’ve been looking at the upcoming weather forecast, and it’s really not good. Even as I write this, my house is shuddering ominously in the freezing gale force winds that are battering Hampshire at the moment. And it’s snowing, and what isn’t being blown away is remaining. I could see it might be a while before flying was a good idea, so took this Saturday as something of a last opportunity to go. Weather isn’t ideal, but at least the sun is trying to emerge… To the forest ! So here we are on Liss Forest Heath, with a vague plan in mind, and Capt. McT on the ground with a GoPro2 on a hand-held gorillapod, while I’m in the air (not bodily) with a GoPro3. Yet he still has the advantage… Yes, of course we are also joined by stalwart of British weather ‘The Wind’, which once more set about its furious task of ruining my aerial filmings, and I’m ashamed to report that...

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Posted by on Mar 9, 2013

Pole Diving for Beginners

Pole Diving for Beginners

What no flyings ? What the hell is going on ? Oh, shush. I’d already been out with the hexcopter that morning, so batteries were still charging when the sun finally got its act together and appeared for the first time in bloody ages ! So really I was duty-bound to improvise a Heath Robinson-style pole-mount for my GoPro2 (broom handle, screw (waterproof case obviously) and I went down to Petersfield Lake (to the areas in which I have agreed not to fly because of all the people and animals etc) to see what was going on underwater and up-close-and-personal with the wildlife. In general, the wildlife didn’t seem to mind, although I was bribing it liberally with bread I’d previously sequestered from a passing child. Here’s some lovely swans. So what’s in the water ? Nothing is what’s going on underwater; the lake has visibility of about 5 cm and is fairly cloudy / scummy water, so we can see almost nothing of the wildlife that is (promise)...

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Posted by on Mar 4, 2013

The Two Towers

The Two Towers

Surfing the Trundle… Well, the last time I tried filming here, nothing went well, and I was forced to pack up and go home within about 20 mins of arriving. That was a fairly horrible day, I remember. But it was enough to scout the area, and plan a return trip, so this time I’m back, with an enhanced flight crew, an amazing skyscape, and surprise surprise, a hell of a lot of wind. Well – if you will keep going to the top of hills… Danger ! Danger ! This would be merely a level 2 fly site if it was just the ground I was taking into consideration – apart from the two rather inferior aerial mast stations on the top of the hill, there is nothing to hit and almost no obstacles for hundreds of meters in any direction. In the unlikely event of a crash, chances of recovery are very high unless it goes down in the tree bank off the South face. However,we are...

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Posted by on Feb 22, 2013

Scouting the Trundle

Scouting the Trundle

The best laid plans… Oh dear – this, my 250th hour of flying was not quite the jubilant ascent into gloried cinematography I had hoped it might be. In the beginning… 3 days ago I had found the Trundle on Google Earth, and decided it was well worth a visit, could make an excellent fly site, and knowing my 250th hour in the air was impending, I resolved to do something a bit special and go on a dawn film mission. There are lots of interesting things to see on top of that hill – 2 transmitter masts and an iron horse sculpture, Goodwood Racetrack right the other side of the hill, the beautiful grounds of West Dean College on another side, and generally amazing views all the way to the coast in at least 2 directions. I was resolved to take Special Assistant M with me, not entirely because of the heaviness of battery packs and the massive hill between the car park and where I wanted to fly from....

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Posted by on Feb 20, 2013

Altered Earth – Part 1

Altered Earth – Part 1

Reality. Tilted a Bit. This is the first of a series of Altered World videos where we look at things from a slightly odd angle… We start here with a stranger, colder version of my last flight round Elsted Common, as imagined in some sort of parallel universe… the video quality is a bit ropey – sorry about that – I’ll work on trying to get that better in the future. The reason it’s rubbish here is because I left ProTune on, which you shouldn’t do in failing or contrast-y light, because of the massively increased noise that appears in the darker bits, and generally. Both of today’s vids are in 720 rather than my normal 1080 as I knew the quality was going to be a bit questionable. Sorry bout that. Normal service will be resumed etc etc…  ...

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Posted by on Feb 20, 2013

Winter Gold

Winter Gold

Winter Sun, Sail-plane fun. Today I am back at the site of Thursday’s crash excitement. Elsted Common. Why back so soon ? Partly because I couldn’t think of anywhere more interesting to go, partly because I wanted to go flying in a ‘golden hour’  forest (that didn’t happen in the end), but mostly because I’ve lost the 8000 mAH battery that came down with the crash, and those are expensive. What are the chances of finding that on a public heath that massive, 4 days later ? Extremely good as it turns out – I’d been looking for less than 3 minutes before I saw it – it must have slipped out of my bag without me noticing, and escaped the final look-round I mostly don’t forget to do before I leave anywhere… Amazingly, despite being outside in sub-freezing temperatures, and more than a little rain, I was very surprised to find it un-puffed, and apparently none the worse for wear for its experience. I checked the foil really...

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Posted by on Feb 17, 2013

AC1 v3.6 reclaims the skies…

AC1 v3.6 reclaims the skies…

Summon the repair crews! Oh, that’s me. Right – spent Saturday lovingly restoring my craft to its former glory. Just 2 new arms and a carbon fibre prop to replace initially. Did that, and connected to the computer to check settings, motor and prop direction, and to realign the gimbal, which had been knocked off whack by the impact. Got that done, but having removed all the props to test motors safely, I noticed ESC 4 was getting substantially hotter than all the others after a 2 minute unloaded 50% motor test. I looked closely at it and saw a massive dent in its underside (yet more previously unnoticed crash damage) which can’t have been helping, so out it went, and in went my spare. Hurrah for Power Distribution Looms, as mine made this a quick and painless plug and play sort of process rather than having to resort to the soldering kit. Can we fix it ? Yes we can. OK, so up to my ground zero test...

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Posted by on Feb 15, 2013

High Dives

High Dives

Mystery crash investigations… Hey kids – JW here, back with some quality unbiased reportings; showing you what happens when it all goes horribly wrong, in the hope that I can re-run the clip, do some investigations, and at the end of all that, hopefully find out what actually did go wrong, fix it & avoid it happening again… It’s been rubbish weather all week so pretty much as soon as I awoke today and saw the sun out, I barely stopped to check the wind reports, and headed down the coast. Well, by the time I got there, winds that had been advertised as 15 mph were more like 30, and blowing straight out to sea, so my spider-safety-sense kicked in and I packed up and moved inland… It doesn’t matter though – we’re in for a crashing… but at least it’s not in the sea. Enough with the flashing lights. There were multiple aims to today’s flights. I wanted to try and find out whether the red lights...

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