How to Fly High with a Drone

Flying High with a Drone

I’m often asked, and I often see social media posts from new owners of drones asking how long it takes to get the courage to take a drone to the maximum height of 120 metres (400 feet) in the UK.  I’ll be honest and say that it took me about 4 months to take my old Phantom Vision 2+ up to that height approximately 7-8 years ago.

Flying High with a Drone

The Phantom Vision 2+ always seemed as though it was going to fall out of the sky at any moment.  It felt heavy and bulky by todays standards.  It took me a while to trust the technology before finally reaching the maximum height for a drone flight in the UK.  I think that it’s the technology that you need to trust rather than your flying skills.  With the DJI Mini 2, I was flying at maximum altitude on the first day I received it.  The light and agile nature of this drone gave me confidence straight away and I had no hesitation in climbing as high as the CAA drone rules allow.

Looking back now, I still ask myself why it took me so long to gain the confidence in flying at 120 metres with my old drone.  I still think it was just the thought of it crashing to the ground held me back.

What could go wrong?

There are a few things in my mind that could go wrong when flying as high as you are allowed.

  • Is the battery connected properly?  Did you make sure you inserted it correctly?  If the battery loses connection to the drone, there will be a power failure and it will come crashing to the ground.  No return to home mode is going to rescue you.
  • A bird strike.  You could be VERY unlucky and get attacked by a large bird of prey or worse, a seagull.  In my experience the higher I fly, the less I get pestered by birds.  I have never had a serious encounter with a bird in the sky, but I have seen plenty of seagulls and buzzards take a curious interest.  I find that simply pushing the drone higher (as long as you’re not already at maximum height) deters any bird coming close.
  • Software/hardware failure.  Yes, even though I trust the technology not to let me down, there is always the possibility of something going wrong in the brains of the drone or a propeller blade detaches. The latter is avoidable if you do a correct propeller checks before take off.
  • Last and by no means least, there is always the risk of pilot error.  Keeping VLOS on a small drone such as a the DJI Mini 2 is difficult at times.  Taking your eye off the drone for a few seconds can be enough for you to loss sight of it and panic.  My advise at this stage is always to stay calm, point the camera straight down at the ground and figure out where the drone is from that angle.

Conclusion

So to round things off, I would say that there is no rush to send your new drone to the maximum height.  Take your time to get used to the controls.  Gain confidence as a drone pilot and trust the technology to do what it is supposed to do.

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Reculver Towers – A Drone Enthusiasts Right of Passage

Reculver Towers by Drone

As a drone enthusiastic in the South East of England, part of your right of passage is to visit The Reculver Towers and fill your boots with epic drone photos and videos.  It’s difficult not to take a fantastic drone photo of Reculver Towers.  I’m pretty sure that once you have been there, at least one photo you take will be in your top drone photos of your collection.

Reculver Towers by Drone
Reculver Towers near Herne Bay taken with DJI Mavic Mini 1

With the Reculver Towers being next to the sea with long sweeping views, it is a perfect location to home your drone photography and videography skills.  If you have got over the fear of flying over water, then the views of the towers are spectacular.

The best piece of advice I can give anybody wanting to get some great additions to their drone photo portfolio is to get to the Reculver Towers for a sun rise photo shoot.  If you get the timing just right, you can capture the sun rising though the towers which result in some awesome sun rise drone photography stills.

I have been fortunate enough to fly my DJI Mini 2 around the Reculver Towers numerous times and a few times with a DJI Mavic Mini 1 and a DJI Phantom 2+.  Each time I have flown around the towers I have managed to capture some amazing images and video clips.

If you intend on taking your drone to the Reculver Towers, please bare in mind that you will need to pay a little fee for parking.  It is worth every penny.  You’ll leave Reculver with some outstanding photos to edit once you get home.  They will be perfect for your Drone Instagram account if you have one.

Recommended Drone Locations in Kent – Oare Near Faversham

oare creek near faversham

As a drone pilot, I fully understand the need to find new and interesting places to fly my drone.  With this in mind I’ve decided to write about some recommended drone location in Kent.  I’m hoping that other drone pilots find this drone blog article and enjoy this location just as much as I did.

oare creek near faversham

This location is Oare in Kent.  Situated just outside Faversham, Oare has a little bit of everything to keep a drone pilot interested.  With lush green marshland giving fantastic birds eye view patterns and textures and old wrecked boats littering the sandbanks at low tide, this wetland area is a drone photographers dream.

There are also plenty of boats lined up along the river banks that make great subjects to fly over with the gimbal set to look straight down.  On a bright sunny day, the colours along the Oare river banks are a mixture of browns, greens and blues.

Awesome Drone Locations

For me, the stranded rowing boats that look like they have sunk to the bottom of the river make a perfect object to fly your drone over to get that photos with the boat surrounded by the reeds and patterns formed by the endless amount of steams and creeks.

I found this drone location to be very quiet with only a handful of passers-by who gave an approving nod as they walked by peering up at my hovering DJI Mini 2.  The only thing you need to be aware of are the large electric power lines situated further towards the sea, but they are far enough away not to spoil your enjoyment.

Sunken Boats in Kent

I was pleasantly surprised that the wildlife in the area didn’t seem to mind the appearance of the Mini 2 appearing in the sky.  The seagulls kept their distance and the occasional pigeon never came near.

Most importantly, there is a good amount of parking nearby too.  Being able to park the car when out scouting for droning locations in a pain in the butt.  You should have no problem parking on the side of the road near to the entrance to the public footpath that will take you directly to the area.