A bit of long post but the following for me was a valuable lesson and experience, that despite all the planning, sometimes you just have to take the decision to abort a flight mission when conditions dictate.
My friend was in the Hayling Island “round the island” boat race this weekend. As I was down this way he asked if I could video some footage for them with my Mavic 2 Pro.
Since I am currently going through the A2CoC I thought it would be a great opportunity to get some practical experience with planning the flight, getting the necessary permissions, insurance, etc.
So after preparing several TOAL points, measuring separation distances and taking snapshots from Google I was all set for the day. Before setting off, check I have all the paperwork with me, SD card is in the drone with plenty of storage, check props, batteries fully charged and so on, I headed off to Hayling.
It was a sunny day, temperature set to be around 23 degrees with light winds from the SE of 10MPH but things started to look a bit ominous with a rather hazy sky. It was early though so thought perhaps the sun will burn off any mist by the time the race starts.
Met up with my friend and we checked out the pre-planned take off points and all seemed fine but there were a lot of spectators, dog walkers and cyclists about. We had two very good potential TOAL locations either side of Langstone Bridge and these I had already checked out on Dronescene where others had gone before and marked them as suitable locations. The race was to go anti-clockwise around the island and my friend was set to start at 10:20. I got myself all positioned ready for the boats to come under the bridge and that is when things began to unravel!
First, I got a message from my friend at 9:20 to say the race organisers decided to change tack (excuse the pun) and for the boats to go clockwise around the island but they also brought the time forward by 45mins!! Oh no, I am in the wrong location now and it is a 20 minute hike to the other side of the bridge beyond the marina! I quickly packed up and dashed down the path, over the road and out to the second TOAL. Now the sun was getting quite hot, I was perspiring profusely from the quick dash and the sky was now even hazier than before. Having reached the second TOAL I was dismayed to see a number of people in close proximity so there was no way I could arrange a 50m separation. Apart from that the boats had already reached the second TOAL so no time to carry out pre-flight checks and they were way out in the channel. The final straw was the helicopter that seemed to be doing the rounds above.
OK, so that one was abandoned but at least I might be able to get a shot from the first TOAL which had now become the finish line. Alas, I walk into the car park only to find that now 110 fishermen are in a fishing competition and all lined up along the shore line at my pre-planned TOAL. A sponsored bike race had also just started to take place close by. With the UAV Forecast App now telling me there were not enough satellites to lock onto as well as all the other factors, I figured this flight today was just not going to happen.
Ah, well I guess this is all part of flying drones (or not in this case) but the experience does place you in a position to make the decision of whether the flight would be safe or not. On this occasion there was too much risk to public safety and the drone (potential loss of GPS whilst over water) as well as being able to fly legally just to get a shot. There will be other opportunities I’m sure.