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Lesson Learned, importance of pre-flight checklist

sunquest

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Joined
Jun 7, 2018
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I want to share with you a quick experience with a lesson that might become useful for some of you. I'm very beginner in this field but been photographer for quite sometime.

During our last hiking trip to Slovakia, I tried to fly the drone almost on daily basis and whenever the weather permit. One day we visited a castle afternoon and I imagined it would be nice to have aerial footage.

However the sun light was very harsh and I do not have yet any ND filters. So I just studied the castle and planned a trip next day.

Next day, we woke pretty early in the morning around 04:00 AM and I was at the foot of the castle hill by 5. The plan was to take some footage just after sunrise. The weather was very nice with some clouds just under the castle.

Here where the adrenaline rush through you to get the drone in position as quick as possible as any of those good factors might change at any moment.

So I quickly started the drone, calibrate compass, and being photographer focused on camera settings (ISO, shutter speed, WB ...etc).

As the castle was built at the top of small hill, I parked downhill but very close to the castle itself. In the mist of the rush I send the drone up, adjust the position and start recording.

Made about 90deg round the outer walls and was overjoyed when I saw clouds under with such beautiful scenery on my iPad screen. This however did not last long, as due to clouds and the drone position behind the castle I lost signal with the drone.

Now, everything wrong I made start rushing in my brain. I recalled that I forgot to adjust RTH height before starting (was 60m). The reason that my start point was considered 0m and the castle was almost 55m up from my position.

This means the drone will not have enough room to clear castle walls or at least it will end-up somewhere in the middle of the castle (remember the castle was between home position and the drone position).

I panicked for a while and start to run around the parking lot trying to catch a signal. After about 40 seconds (which felt like minutes) I was able to regain signal, all I could see in-front of it is the castle outer walls.

Fortunately I always set the drone to hover in case of obstacle in front, because the drone end-up under a watch tower in the opposite side which means clearing the walls would cause the drone smashing at the floor of this watching tower.

So first I did 360deg rotation to get idea what around the drone then I backward about 30m from the walls. Adjust RTH height to 250m (yes 250m) and then I continued taking Pics and Video. But my hand was shaking almost the rest of the flight.

The lesson here I want to mention that its very important to create your own pre-flight checklist because you really will forget something when you are under stress. I never thought that I will ever loose signal before, but things happen.

The checklist will help you to repeat things until they become muscle memory for you. Especially for beginners (like me) or even experienced when they did not fly for quite long time. Its easy to forget small but important things.

Here is a pic for that trip and will post video in appropriate section.
View media item 1938View media item 1937View media item 1936
 

sunquest

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Joined
Jun 7, 2018
Messages
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Location
Munich
Glad things turned out well for you. You got some great pics! I wish I had your photography skills.
Thanks mate, I'm still armature but I learned that 80% of photography is good light and being in the right place at the right time ;)
 

Triplog

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Jan 6, 2018
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Have to agree! About a month ago I did something similar - early morning, a river near home, perfect conditions. Set up quickly, took off, hovered for about 20 secs then flew over the river. 3/4 of the way across I got a message on the screen "Braking - Return the joysticks to the central position then continue flying". I let go the sticks, the drone hovered then started bucking wildly. Next thing I see is something flying off the drone (a propeller!) and it plummeted into the river. I had no choice but a cold bath and a 2 mile cold wet walk home! Good news is Heliguy did a great and fast repair and I now stick strictly to my prefilght check! (i can only assume the propeller got unlocked putting it in and lifting it out of the bag)
 

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