Preston Grisham

Public Policy Professional

Tech Enthusiast | Developer

Photographer | Videographer

Chef | Travel Lover

Flying a Drone on a Snowy Day

I recently picked up a new DJI Phantom 3 after looking over a number of reviews for UAV's. I have to admit my only disappointment after taking my new toy out this weekend is that I waited as long as I did. This thing in incredible, the video quality and smoothness is mind blowing and the ease of use was much greater than expected. 

Cannon at the Gettysburg National Historic Battlefield

Living in Washington, DC, I am very restricted as to where I can fly drones. The FAA has instituted a 5-mile no-fly zone radius around the city and areas that seem to extend even beyond that in which you are not allowed to navigate your aircraft. And I imagine in an effort to appease the government from future regulations, DJI does not even allow you to take off in these no-fly zones. So on Sunday morning I packed up my car and I drove out to Gettysburg, PA to film the snowy countryside and also to visit one of our nation's more historic towns. On a side note, if you have never ventured to Gettysburg, I highly recommend it. Not only is there a tremendous amount of history in this town, it is just a quaint little place.

Getting everything unloaded and ready for the first take off.

I have to admit I drove around a lot looking for a place I felt comfortable taking the DJI out for its first outdoor flight. I didn't want some angry farmer to pull his shotgun out of his pickup and blow it out of the sky, nor did I want the local police to haul me in for long questioning about what I was doing. So I settled on my first stop at the local high school and their very open and empty snow covered football field. It seemed like a great place to test the drone and not bother anyone.

The location was a great success and I was able to build some confidence from my first flight. The drone takes off with the push of a button and just hovers, looking at you, waiting for you to fly it away. The FAA restricts these type of drones to an altitude below 400 feet. At first I thought that was pretty low but quickly learned it is plenty to get all the photos and video you will ever need. I think I got it up to about 350 feet and even then started to get a little nervous. DJI also states the Phantom 3 can fly about a mile away with the new light bridge communication system. On my first flight, I probably never flew it more than 750 feet away but there was never once even the slightest communications hiccup. 

I can't wait to take my UAV out again this weekend and push the limits of flight and video a little more. This is an incredible device not only for the fun of flying but for video quality. Below I have post two videos I shot on my first day, please let me know what you think.