I’ve been very inactive for a number of months, and what better way to get back into the scene that to be an awkward bugger.
Yesterday I received an email from the committee of my flying club in which they resurrected, amongst other things related to quads, the requirement for a spotter to be collocated with anyone flying FPV. I replied back to the committee member, stating that under Article 16 Authorisation a spotter is NOT required if the flying area is deemed sterile, meaning it is more than 30m away from the general viewing area and not freely accessible to those not involved with flying activities. Such a sterile area would be a FPV race track, or in our a case private land not accessible to the general public with the closest active structure more than a kilometre away.
They replied by saying that due to the close proximity of a tourist attraction, a bunch of rocks 1.5km away and behind our flying site (we are not allowed to fly behind ourselves anyway), and an airport sited 10km behind us, Article 16 was irrelevant.
This got me thinking… what use is a spotter anyway? Especially in such a location. They may say,
“You’re flying towards a tree!!”.
And my reply would be,
“I know. I can see the tree, and I intend to fly through the tree”.
“There’s an aeroplane flying overhead!” When the aircraft is at 1500feet agl and I’m at 20ft agl.
Our club has an altitude exemption that extends to 1000ft for fixed wing LOS flights but there is no requirement for a spotter, but I’d argue there is a stronger case for one in such a situation.
Now I’m not decrying the use of a spotter entirely. I would certainly use one if I was flying in a publicly accessible area, primarily to stop said public from coming up and trying to engage me in the three inevitable questions:
- How much?
- Where from?
- How far can you fly?
Or when using a camera drone in a similar public location as it’s easy to lose the position of the drone when you’re constantly looking down at the screen and trying to look up at the drone.
I’ve been flying FPV for over ten years, and in all that time the only things I’ve crashed into are the things I was flying toward and could clearly see myself, and even having a thousand spotters would not have stopped the crash. In all cases the only damage was to my quad and my pride. On the flip side I’ve seen countless fixed wing LOS pilots lose orientation and crash and cause material damage to property other than their own. Or become sky blind and completely lose sight of their model, for it to be never seen again. In all those situations having a spotter may have been a great benefit.
So… to anyone other FPV’ers, have you ever encountered a situation where your spotter had been instrumental in averting disaster? Or even provided you with any information that without would have meant you wouldn’t have been able to complete your flight in a safe manner?
My apologies for being so controversial. Since my wife is back in the USA visiting friends and family I’ve had zero interaction with any other human being for over a month, and the voices in my head along with my cat that now talks, said this would be good for me.