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6 Seconds to a Mid-AIR


Well-Known Member
Oct 17, 2016
Sarnia ON Canada
This video was produced last year by some fellow pilots and I around how hard it is to see a drone. Most of them own their own aircraft and regularly fly in rural Ontario. Flat open spaces and mostly in good weather. So how hard is it to spot a drone when you are at the controls and what should you do to avoid them? As an Ex-RCAF pilot, now flying drones commercially, I too wanted to know more about this "major conflict" and the media hype and hysteria surrounding it. We approached it from the point of view that drones/UAVs are a valuable new technology that has a lot of built in safety features. They should be able to co-exist with general aviation as long as people behave rationally. . . but it's the human in the loop that's the weakest link. So we set out to evaluate a best case scenario and film it from both the pilots and the UAV Operators point of view.

After months of planning and a thorough flight safety briefing we met at one of the pilots' private farm strip with three aircraft and 2 drones. The aircraft flew a set pattern ( similar to a typical takeoff and landing pattern) around a single tree in the middle of flat open farmland at 300-400 and 500ft AGL while a single drone hovered directly over the tree at 400ft. With photographers in each aircraft and the drones capturing aerial video in real time each set out to see how far out they could see each other. Additional spotters and photographers on the ground captured these CLOSE ENCOUNTERS from every angle. Under ideal conditions, on a perfectly sunny day, how hard could be?

As my old flight instructor used to say WATCH THIS! Events
So cool! Thanks for taking the time to show this! May I share it?
Very cool!!! I will share it.
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Being the Phantom is white and Mavic's are dark I wonder what difference it would make seeing it in that same test .
Is cool and thanks for posting that .0ROJYyg.png
Being the Phantom is white and Mavic's are dark I wonder what difference it would make seeing it in that same test .
Is cool and thanks for posting that .View attachment 37499
Dark or white makes little difference it seems except under certain lighting conditions and viewing angles. Most of the time they are about equally visible (mavic being a smaller cross section of course makes it harder to see all the time) . . but a white phantom in bright blue sky is surprisingly easy to pick out while a mavic is not. Conversely, a Mavic under grey overcast (clear air no smog or smoke) is way easier to see at at the same distance (maybe 800-1000ft) than a Phantom surprisingly. . . in all cases both will disappear rather easily at less than 100ft if there is any background besides sky or cloud. . . particularly against trees and bushes.
After 20 passes with the pilot actively looking for the drone while knowing where it is, it was only spotted twice. It really makes me wonder about all these "drone sightings." How many are legitimate and how many are just drone haters. Before seeing this video, I was suspicious about many of the reports I had read. I am even more suspect of those sightings now.
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I tend to agree. Most pilots are competent observers but a few seconds of some shape combined with a predisposition fostered by a rabid press can leave a misguide impression. I flow Transport Canada incident reports and the problem is REAL but highly misunderstood. The real data is quite a bit more nuanced and complex.

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