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Posted by on Dec 4, 2014

Winchester at Christmas

Winchester at Christmas

Join me for an afternoon roll around one of Hampshire’s most picturesque cities and largest cathedral. It’s nearly Christmas, so much to my surprise I found a full-on craft market at the base of the cathedral, and this resulted in some classic Airwheel skills-up proximity glide opportunities… Slow-wheeling Part 1 is all about Airwheeling the busy market, intercut with a few quality time-lapses of the awesome scenery. This was easily as hard work as Westminster was the other week, possibly more so in that at least in London they keep moving, albeit very slowly; here, people were randomly stopping all over the place, and it took all my concentration and slow-wheel skills to do the whole lot without a single UDM or fall. Couple of forced intentional dismounts along they way, as you’d expect, but generally I was very happy with that, and pleased that I seem to be able to maintain increasingly deathly slow roll speeds without losing balance. Part 2 builds on that as we head into...

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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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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 5, 2013

Ghosts in the Mist

Ghosts in the Mist

Winter is…going …but it hasn’t gone yet, and this morning I awoke to the ethereal light of trees shrouded in thick fog. Flying in fog is usually a massive waste of time – everything has no contrast, there’s not much to see – not much you can see, the sun is usually entirely obscured by cloud, and there really has to be some pretty special scenery around to make this sort of thing worthwhile. This morning, however, the intense Winter sun and a cloudless sky (obviously not counting the fog) was making all the difference and I got out there just as the mist began to lift. And I wanted to get my GoPro 3 in the air again as soon as was humanly possible… Testing Times It’s always testing time in one way or another, but today’s flight is mainly about the video test rather than choice location. That location is my back yard, and I have permission from the owner (my landlord) to fly here. Today I am...

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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 9, 2013

Aerocam Photo Log – Episode 1

Aerocam Photo Log – Episode 1

Aerial Stills Sep 2012 – Jan 2013. It’s raining outside, and nothing needs maintaining or doing on my hex, so I’m using the time to do a little compilation of photos that me and my craft have taken in the last 6 months or so of flying about over (mostly) the Hampshire countryside. Twitter has started reducing the resolution of all my photos, so I wanted to do a slideshow people could watch in reasonable HD, although I have used some low-res shots from the earlier days that I wasn’t expecting to ever be used in a video, but even so, it’s nice to have a little slideshow every so often… All these are stills taken from 1080p video filmed with a GoPro2 on-board or from 720p video from a FLIP or Nikon D3100 from the ground. Photoshop has been fairly seriously involved in most of them as I really hate washed-out photos and as these images were all taken whilst moving I usually have to reduce resolution and...

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Posted by on Feb 9, 2013

Sunsetting – Petersfield Heath

Sunsetting – Petersfield Heath

Up, up and away. Mostly away. As in ‘away in a workshop at home’. Haven’t done any flying this week, for reasons that may include what might later be referred to as ‘The Great Warning-off of Feb 2013’, but today the sky was doing good enough things to tempt me out and over to the Heath with a fresh rack of batteries and set of gloves B. My temporary flight area extension kindly granted by Petersfield TC so I could get extra good snow vids has expired, so I’m back in my ‘normal’ permitted areas. Never mind though, the sky is looking good wherever I point a camera this evening, especially if I then point photoshop at it afterwards… Mainly about the sky… Apart from a short whinge about battery / flight times, and wondering if that red light is trying to tell me something other than ‘battery low’, and also testing my new FPV cam mount that allows it to move with the main camera (that went very well...

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Posted by on Feb 4, 2013

Racton Tower Rise

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...

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Posted by on Feb 3, 2013

South Downs Wind Riding

South Downs Wind Riding

Drive-by Flyings in the Winter sun. I had sort of decided the night before that today was going to be too windy for flyings, but when it actually got here, the sun was so resplendent and something of a novelty after the last 2 weeks of mainly grey, that not to fly would have just been the wrong thing to do. To the hills ! Whenever it’s a weekend and windy, I head for big open high spaces where people aren’t. Today’s big high open space was, as I later discovered, just outside Funtingdon, and I had spied from the road an interesting tower that I now know (cheers Richard Graham) is part of Racton Folly. Oh look at the tiny tower ! Oh wait, it’s massive, and miles away. From the road this looked very much like a small tower reasonably close, but as soon as I got in the air transpired to be a large tower a lot further away. It was within my flyable range, but...

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Posted by on Feb 3, 2013

Night Falls

Night Falls

Floating in the half-light For those who like their fly-abouts dark and grey and vaguely post-apocalyptic, but with nice shiny gold bits every so often, this should do the trick. It’s a largely unremarkable flight other than that it is one in which I am not for once plagued with technical problems, and everything is going  pretty much according to plan. Fade to Grey Yes, it’s dusk over Petersfield, and I am disguising both the GoPro2‘s rather hopeless low light performance and the fact that I am quite lazy, and got out of bed too late for the light, with some moderately arty (pretentious) VFX which serve to make the horrible graininess look vaguely intentional. Annoying that on the one day there is virtually no wind, I’ve missed the light, but not to worry – flights were mainly rewarding, although a little short on battery performance. Yep, remember 2 weeks ago my Zippy Flitemax 5800’s both began flahsing 1st level failsafe pretty much as soon as they’d taken off...

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Posted by on Jan 27, 2013

Winter Sun Sky Surfing

Winter Sun Sky Surfing

Ruined off. Like rained off, except involving ancient battlements. Today’s video efforts are something of a backup plan, or rather what happens if you do an elaborate plan to go fly a site, and then get there to find that Google street view has let you down and access is absolutely impossible. Doesn’t happen often, but did today. So was the case with Bishop’s Waltham Palace. So myself, Special M and first-time flyer / improvisational cameraman Paul left, slightly disappointed we couldn’t do our original plan. Fortunately Hampshire is full of top countryside, and some of that isn’t locked, so we went looking for a bit of that instead. Drive-by Flyings… Leaving Bishop’s Waltham we climbed back on the A272 towards home, and did some drive-by flyings when we randomly found a very attractive golf course, later discovered to be Corhampton / Droxford Down, at the top of a very high hill, topped off by an atmospheric spot of Winter sun, and the flyings commenced. Temperatures were reasonable, a nice...

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Posted by on Jan 26, 2013

Last Snow

Last Snow

The big melt. I knew before I left that the wind was going to be high today, but it was also going to be dry, and the snow was looking like it was on the way out , so I felt I should at least try and go and get something… I was half way down to the coast when I saw some trees almost bent double in the wind, and reasoning that wind is always worse on the coast, abandoned that plan. I was close to Butser, so had a quick drive up to the top to see what it was like there. Ridiculous is what it was. I considered doing the mother of all GPS position lock tests, but in the end the lack of visibility, low cloud and the whole area being fenced off convinced me that here wasn’t going to work either. Stopped to check my ‘Lower South face of Butser’ fly-site, and wind that much lower was slightly better; flyable at least,  but I...

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