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.
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.
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.