I thought it would be easy, flying a drone. And, in truth, the technology makes it much easier than it could be. Nevertheless, it is still easy to crash. Believe me, I’ve done it. Fortunately not yet catastrophically.
Standing in a high mountain meadow, I take off. My phantom 4 rises effortlessly and hovers. In truth, every time I take off I have this feeling that I’m going to loose it, my drone that is. It is going to fly away, or, get blown away, or, run into something, or…I can go on thinking of all the possible ways I might loose or crash my drone. Nevertheless, the good pictures and the great footage do not reside near where I stand. If they did, I wouldn’t need a drone. So, I send my phantom 4 off into the sky.
Having passed my Federal Aviation Administration part 107 test and received my FAA UAS certified remote pilot rating, I know that I must fly VLS, visual line of sight. The specs on my phantom say that it has a 3.1 mile range. I, on the other hand, can not see my drone once it has gone about a half mile. I probably need glasses. However, I’m trying to find a balance between VLS and reasonable range. I haven’t found it yet.
I fly over the aspen trees toward Mount Timpanogos. The sun is setting and with fall approaching, the colors and the imagery are amazing. I’m trying to get the right exposure, watch the drone and watch the screen when I get a message telling me that the signal is weak. My phantom is not that far away. Then the message changes–signal lost.
My drone is out there flying, by itself? And, I must admit, I can’t see it. It has gone out of my sight behind a stand of Aspen trees.
That knot in the pit of my stomach tightens.
The specs say that the phantom 4 is supposed to return to home upon signal loss. I can’t hear it and I can’t see it. I start walking uphill through the meadow. If I can just get to a higher vantage point. I hold my controller over my head. The signal returns. My drone is found. Hallelujah.
The battery life is running critically low so I bring it in for a landing. The sun drops behind the mountain and I pack up my gear.
When I look at the footage, I’m amazed. It actually looks pretty good. Nevertheless, you be the judge.