As we near the end of the year, we took one of our regular flying meetings outdoors. We often hold these meetings in the lab as a means for the group to bond, while honing our flying skills via various objectives and obstacles. This time, with the sun shining, it was time for a change, and one of our training drones got some vitamin D.
Flying outdoors brings an uncontrolled element to flight: wind. Flying circuits in the lab, the aircraft is relatively undisturbed, and muscle memory can be developed. In the wind, there is no control over when, where, and how hard it will impact the aircraft, and so the pilot must be ready for all outcomes. As such, the pool noodle loops were a bit more of a challenge than usual!
The exercise also gave the team more consideration for flying in other environments, notably the safety and regulatory aspects involved. For example, all flying was conducted below the tree line, in accordance with CAA Part 101 shielded flight. All flights not only had the pilot continuously maintaining line-of-sight visual contact with the aircraft (another Part 101 requirement), but also spotters not only ready to call out to the pilot if the aircraft looks like it may become unsafe, but also to tell the pilot to land immediately if it looks like anyone not from the group is going to come within 20 m of the flight area (meeting Auckland Council requirements). Such operational aspects provide good experiences for members of the group on the broader scope of drone flight.
If you’re flying outdoors this summer, don’t forget to check all appropriate regulations and restrictions before you fly. Always fly safely and responsibly!
In New Zealand, Civil Aviation Authority Part 101 rules apply, so make sure that you adhere to them and that your aircraft is compliant -> Intro to Part 101 rules for unmanned aircraft | aviation.govt.nz
If flying in Auckland Parks, be sure to read the Auckland Council rules, restrictions and code of conduct -> Drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) (aucklandcouncil.govt.nz)
AirShare is a useful resource for mapping out where you can and cannot fly, and keeping track of your flights -> New Zealand’s hub for drone users – AirShare