Unmanned aerial vehicles with radio remote control, also known as drones, have recently gained a lot of popularity. They give the photographer great artistic freedom in terms of the viewing point and viewing angle. The pictures are the same, they are pictures of the same things, and yet they draw the attention because we see them from a different angle in a way we have never seen before. An eagle-eye view.
Of course, when you shoot with a drone you must follow the same rules as when shooting with a camera. There are a number of other rules connected with the flight of the drone.
Do not fly over no-fly zones. These are usually areas close to airports, airbases, stadiums and military bases. You can check the no-fly zones for each country on the DJI website https://www.dji.com/flysafe/geo-map
– Do not fly over crowds of people. Concerts, rallies, public events with a lot of people. There is an actual, though minimal, risk of the drone falling. If it falls from a great height on a person it could cause injury or even death when the drone is heavy. even death when the drone is heavy.
- Do not fly with hacked or cracked machines at heights greater than the permitted one. Most drones are limited to heights of 500 meters above the take-off point. If you fly your machine several kilometres into the atmosphere, you are running the risk of colliding into other aviation vehicles – civil, cargo, agricultural or military aircraft. Therefore it is important to observe factory limitations and not to install unlicensed software on your machines. This poses a risk for your equipment as well.
- Do not fly at night. Night flights are forbidden in most European countries. Also, they are risky for the drone. At night the obstacle avoidance sensors which prevent the machine from crashing do not function.
Here is some advice for safer flights.
- Do not fly drones which are out of order. Take heed of any warnings on the screen, for example no GPS signal from satellites, uncalibrated compass, etc.
- Do not fly under bad weather conditions – rain, snow, fog, storm, strong winds (over 8-10 meters per second). The wind speed resistance of the drone depends on its size, weight and the power of the drone, but there is always a risk that a stronger wind may blow the machine away and that you will lose it. If you see a strong wind warning on your screen, you should land the drone and put it away. Sometimes it is possible not to have any wind at ground level and the weather may seem still, but there may be an air current high up in the air. This is particularly true for valleys and canyons.
- Avoid flying near sources of strong electromagnetic fields – antennae, power lines, radio relay stations. The same goes for other metal constructions which could confuse the compass of the machine.
- You should be extra careful with wires and small tree branches. The obstacle avoidance sensors of the drone detect larger objects but they cannot detect small branches and wires and there is a risk that you might fly your drone into them.
- Always consider the direction of the wind. If you are flying with the wind you will reach the desired destination faster, but on the way back you will be flying against the wind, which will slow the speed of the drone. Do not rely exclusively on the automatic return function which is activated when the voltage of the battery drops. The drone is programmed to return by itself to the point of take-off when the battery has 30% of its capacity left. However, if you have used up 70% of the battery to fly in only one direction, there is no way the remaining 30% would be enough for the drone to fly back the same distance.
- Keep in mind that lower temperatures and thin air make the batteries of the drone deplete faster.
- Secure an even and calm spot for take-off and landing. It is risky to catch the drone with your hand while moving, especially the larger machines with hard propellers. You should not take off or land on busy roads and highways. When the drone is descending and getting ready for landing, which may take a couple of seconds, you may be caught by surprise by a fast-moving vehicle and not have the time to climb back up. Even if the drone does not get hit, the powerful air flow created by the passing vehicle may drag or flip over your drone.
- Watch the map while flying the drone. The arrow is pointing in the direction in which you are moving relative to the point of take-off. Observe the terrain through the camera so that you can find your way if you have to fly back manually. Do not forget that mistakes of the pilot account for over 90% of all drone crashes and lost drones.
To sum up – fly freely and as much as you want in the mountains and in the fields. You are not putting anyone at risk. The only risk which you are running is that of losing your drone. Even with a permission by the Civil Aviation Administration for the flight, you still bear full responsibility in case of an accident.