How high can a bird fly? – 1 year on

Well, It’s almost 1 year since I got my CAA PfCO (Permission for Commercial Operations) and what have we learned? Apart from that I’m absolutely terrible at keeping up a blog.

Personally, I have loved every single second of it! Well, maybe not every single second, there was one time I was flying over Loch Lomond, and my ipad lost connection due to the cold, with the drone and because I didn’t panic and I had the drone in sight the whole time AND I knew which way it was flying, because I had it in view the whole time, I managed to get it home.


You see, (and I’m 100% sure there are fantastic hobby flyers out there, so this is not a go at anyone), when I did my training with the marvellous Flyby Technology, they taught me all about how to be professional and how to fly my “bird” in the safest possible way… and if things did go wrong, not to panic.

We’ve all read the press, seen the news and cried over the Drone Bashing that’s everywhere on social media, but me… it really doesn’t effect me and my operations. It’s horrendous, anti-social and down right criminal what’s been going on (IF it’s been going on, but that’s a different argument) but it’s absolutely a minority of drone pilots causing issues.

As a pilot with permission to fly commercially, yes, I’ve had to learn all about wind and weather systems, air law, air chart map reading, but most importantly I have learned how to fly safely within the guidelines set out by the CAA.


So not only is it illegal for someone without a PfCO to take on commercial work, but are they as fully up to speed with all the new Air Laws etc? Chances are they’re not. Even today there’s been a release by the CAA (CAP1763 if you’re interested) , this is mostly regarding no fly zones near airports.


So why doesn’t it effect me? Because as a registered commercial drone pilot, I know the rules, I have to. I’m not going to fly more than 500m away from me (absolute limit, if I’m flying my Mavic Pro, sometime I can’t even go that far, because it’s so small, the Inspire, not usually a problem), I’m not going to fly more than 120m up in the sky from the ground below. I’m always watching out for the likes of battery percentage and voltage, other air users that fly low, like the military (I’ve always checked for any messages to airmen before I even go out the office), all this and so much more. If you’re going to do it properly and safely, it’s a lot more than just unpack the drone and get it up in the sky.

I read quite a few posts in Facebook forums and the like of people asking for “range extenders” and “What’s the highest you’ve flown at” etc. WHY?? You can’t legally go above 500m away from you and 400ft up from the ground. So who needs range extenders etc?


And if that image doesn’t do it for you, here’s some nuggets I’ve whipped up to put it into context…

500m (how far you can fly away from you, if you still have visual line of sight): it’s 0.310686 miles, or 5x International Rugby pitches, or 50 London buses end to end or even 1640 footlong Subways subs. It’s a long way!

400ft (how high you can fly from the ground beneath the drone): 120m, or 40 average elephants on top of each other, or 63 VW Split Screen Campervans carefully piled on top of each other, or the Forth Bridge (the red one, the cool one) is 110m high, so you can only be a maximum of 10m above this (so watch out for any photos looking down on it and just have a think if it’s legal or not?), or… and are you ready for this… 0ver 16,500 jelly babies on top of each other! The average 2 story house is about 6m high, so with the rule of not flying within 50m of any structure not under your control, you have to be 56m above the ground… meaning you still have more than double that to fly in. Do you really need to be that high? Chances are, you probably don’t!


I digress, so why doesn’t it effect me and my operations… even with these new CAA regulations that I’m still reading through, as a PfCO holder, I am able to speak to the correct authorities and with proper planning and paperwork, still fly where I need to, keeping my clients happy! It’s all about pre-planning and professionalism.


In the past year I’ve been lucky enough to have flown at and been involved in some amazing shoots. Flying from the top of Calton Hill in the centre of Edinburgh, what an opportunity for an Edinburger!


Capturing sights that no one has ever seen before. (pretty ‘KING cool)

Creating images that last in your memory


And there’s so much more exciting prospects for the coming year ahead.


So yes, flying a drone is amazing, you just HAVE to fly safely and responsibly. And if you’re a business that’s looking to pay for aerial images or footage, then LEGALLY you HAVE to use a pilot with the correct permissions, insurance etc. There’s so many to choose from (at the point of writing this, there are 4979 in the UK) . Some are complete Tech Heads, others are more creative with their shots, but they’re all professional pilots and will do the job with the up most professionalism and in the safest possible manner.

So now that you know the merits of using a properly approved company… Hi I’m Stuart from Granite Creative Productions, PfCO Holder no. 6251 and we’d love to work with you on your next video project or drone adventure.


p.s what have Campervans got to do with drone laws? We like Campervans!

01334 840 587 –   Fly safe.