Inaugural Flight II - Droning Abroad: When you arrive

I last left you on the end of the first chapter of my travel overseas to the Land of Fire and Ice. The journey has been easy, even with our little drone in-tow. I sailed past Customs inspection in Iceland this morning...Iceland being a nation that has few restrictions on anything, let alone UAV's for commercial or private usage.

Once my rental car was ready, my lady and I took off towards the black beaches of the southern coast for a day of droning in the high-Arctic. On the road I began to plan my 65 minutes of flight-time I would have today (across three batteries on a Phantom 2). As part of my pre-flight checks along the way, I jotted a few notes here and there:

- What will the weather be like where I am going?

- What affect will my high-latitude have on flight, or the compass on my aircraft?

- What do I do if my aircraft reacts badly to the first two concerns?

A pre-flightplan is a MUST for any flight, shoot, test, or adventure with your multicopter. Safety of yourself, others and property is the first and most paramountresponsibility of all pilots, especially when travelling to unfamiliar terra-firma. Ask yourself questions along the journey and develop an idea of what you want to accomplish and what concerns you have.

When you arrive, ascertain your surroundings, and take a bearing of the weather and landscape. What obstacles are present? Is the forecast calling for wind or rain? Check your local forecast before venturing out, and if you can... download a weather app for your phone to stay completely up-to-date.

In Iceland today it was bright and sunny, but Iceland is a land known for fierce and dramatic changes in weather over the course of minutes. Thankfully for me, the weather remained great for my first flights accross the lava fields and beaches this afternoon. In the mountains, however... I came into a situation that I had already written my concerns about - GPS-coverage.

Iceland sits near 66 degrees north latitude, which is considered sub-arctic. That being said, most of our GPS satellites follow orbits that do not reside closely within such a high-latitude and coverage can be less than the minimum my Phantom 2 needs to see for GPS-Lock. Such a situation can cause a Phantom 2 to unexpectedly switch into manual mode; free to drift and difficult to control.

Knowing this, and having written my thoughts I came prepared. I opened a weather application downloaded to my phone and double-verified that the beautiful sunlight wasn't about to depart. I checked a local report from another website just for redundancy and was about to ascend.

Ah yes, what's my GPS coverage looking like out here?

For that, I have an application for my Android smartphone called GPS Test. That app lets me check my coverage and strength in a simple-to-understand format at any time, anywhere; regardless of whether or not I have cellular service. I've got 9 satellites with strong signals, it's time to fly!

As I hike down towards the beach amazingly set against rolling waves and towering bird-cliffs my mind is now going through that one last little question I jotted down... what if I missed something and my little drone buddy does something strange up here?

-Stay tuned for the conclusion to our maiden journey! In the meantime, please feel free to contact me directly with any questions or even suggestions for future blog topics.

Thanks for reading,

Eric Davis
Technology Manager
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Joel J.
Joel J.