The Drone: Part 2… We’ll it’s up, now what?

Well, it’s in the air!!!

So, the Mavic is up! I got it up in the air.

So once it’s up, then what? Let’s do some fancy cinematic flight practice… Swooping shots over water (well, over land, but in my eyes if I can do it over land, I can do it over water). Let’s look at all the fancy intelligent flight modes it’s got. Point of Interest… wow, yes, let’s look at that, that looks kinda cool. Oh no, hang on. Let’s stick it up as high as I’m legally allowed to! Then take a photo of my house… again…

NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!!!! STOP!!!!!!!!!

What you doing? Bring it back down. There’s plenty of time to test it to it’s limits, try out all the automatic intelligent flight modes etc, let’s learn how to fly this thing safely, respectfully and in complete control.

There are so many cool things this thing can do, but I need to learn the basics first. Get serious. First off, this drone can cause damage… serious damage to both property and people if flown recklessly. Not that I was, that’s not me, but safety has to be paramount. If I stuck the drone up to the highest legal point I could right now and the wind was too much up there, I could have what’s known as a “fly away”. Danger! Goodbye drone, goodbye a ton of cash and probably a few nights in the spare room!

So, stop thinking about all the cool places round here I can do some amazing shots… they’ll come. So I instead headed into my back garden and then the football field at the end of the village to practice safe and slow flying.

I had been looking into the CAA flight test etc and this really made me look at the drone in a different way. This is a tool for my business, it’s serious, I need to be serious. I’m going to be a pilot ffs! People might actually call me sir, or Captain… or cappy!

The Ground School element of the flight course is classroom based. There seems to be so much to learn, but I’ve given myself time and made a good start on this.

By the way, there seem to be a good few choices who to take your CAA course with. Who you choose is up to you, but make sure you do your research. For me, professionalism, cost and location were the main factors. I’ve opted to go for Flyby Technology. Not only are they fairly close to (still means 3 days away for me), but they weren’t stupid expensive and from reading up on them, reviews etc, they seem to really really know their stuff! And once I spoke to them, they were very friendly and helpful… and I’ve not even been to the course yet!

So, back to the training. Youtube… what a friend we have here! Before I knew what elements I would need to show during my flight test, I thought about the kind of shots I’d be looking to achieve with the drone. Circling with camera in / camera out. I’d heard a figure of 8 was a necessary manoeuvre, so off I went to practice these. And me being me… I wanted to do them quickly! NO!!! STOP!!!! Dick. I stopped fairly quickly. This is all about control and safety… and do you know what, the slower you take it, the easier it is… who knew?

So, I worked hard at these manoeuvres, BUT is what I’m doing any good. Is it right? I’ve also received my pre-course welcome pack from Fly-by and have learnt 2 more manoeuvres that I need to demonstrate. Now Fly-by do, do a 5 day course, which includes 2 days of flight school before you sit your test, but they didn’t have one at a time that suited me, so I have to be confident in my skills before I take the test… what can I do?

Well, I found Marionville Models… A shop that used to be located down the road from me in Edinburgh when I was a kid. It was a hobby shop… but a total geek / high end hobby shop! You’d walk in and you wouldn’t have a clue what ANY of the stuff was or did, but you were impressed with it all! Anyway, they’ve moved to Livingston now and do a ton of drone gear, plus one of their staff is a total expert! I can’t for the life of me remember his name (sorry), but he was superb! We met up for an hour of flying practice. He talked to me as an equal, rather than spoon feeding me baby tripe. His enthusiasm and expertise were outstanding. He flies drones to capture footage of kite surfing and beach buggies. So over water, with wind… enough wind to pull people and buggies along at speed… and enough skill to avoid all the kites…

We stood there for an hour and a half going over the same 3 or 4 manoeuvres… what I had taught myself was right. I was doing the skills properly and this made me confident and happy. Nice one. Kudos to Marionville!

So, from then til now, I’ve been practicing my skills. At various heights. A descending square from 20 feet to 5 feet is much different from a descending square from 50 feet to 10 feet!

I’ve a totally different mental attitude now. Where as before I was in awe of the drone and it’s capabilities, if not a little scared. I’ve slowly growing in confidence with my skills and my surroundings. I can now be found in the field in the village, professionally talking to myself… like a professional does. “pre-flight checks”, “turning on drone”, “taking off”…”yaw left, yaw right. Up, down. Forward, back, left right”… etc etc.

I feel I’m getting there. Obviously where I’m practicing, I’m still taking pictures of my house and village, cause it’s cool for me! Totally cool!… for me.

So next week is my test. I’ve been getting things ready. Sorting out essential flight kit. Fingerless gloves, high-viz waistcoat, landing pad (which I’ve tarted up and am absolutely loving!), new non-polorized sunglasses (aviator style… obviously), barrier tape, walkie talkies (amazing), an anemometer etc etc.

Re-reading my welcome notes and hand book. I’m ready… I think… blog post 3 will confirm or deny this feeling! Wish me luck… let’s hope we get clearance for take-off! Out.