Tag Archives: FlySafe

Spacial awareness

During attending my training program, and as I dug deeper into the nuances of UAV flight, I kept hearing the phrase beware of your spacial awareness as this is the key to successful flight operations.

Losing spacial awareness almost inevitably leads to loss of control and a premature end of the flight. There are lots of reasons for this, but the main one, the one that can cost you dearly, is a difficult one to master.

Most current systems require the use of three things. The UAV itself, the remote control and the tablet/smartphone. The key is to keep your wits about you and do not panic. Know and understand your emergency procedures, and if in doubt, generally letting go of everything will lead to assertion of control.

When concentrating on the tablet, you will easily be sucked into observing the screen and will be totally unaware of your surroundings. When concentrating on the UAV you will lose sight of your mission and may lose directional awareness. When merely monitoring what your hand is doing to control the UAV you may lose sight of the situation.

Try to keep a balance between screen, UAV observation and flight control. This will keep you aware of your surroundings, able to orientate the aircraft through the screen and be able to manoeuvre effectively under all circumstances.

Be aware that all you need to do is place the craft in GPS mode and let go of the controls and it will hover. It may not be where you want it to be, but you can regain control without panicking.

Here is what happens when you lose spacial awareness and concentrate on the screen rather than balancing your efforts.




DJI Phantom FC40 Review

Manufacturer: DJI
Product: Phantom FC40

Okay, so this is an old product. But, it is a great way to start learning to fly a UAV. It is simple, you can pick them up second hand for a reasonable amount of hard earned cash, and you really will not have to worry about it.

I bought mine of Ebay at the beginning of the year. It came with a case, a few batteries, charger, remote control, quadcopter itself and a few spare rotors and tool kit and a hard case.

The first thing you notice about the Phantom FC40 is how light it is. Even with a GoPro mounted on it and a battery inserted it comes in at just under 1200 grams.

Although the FC40 comes with it’s own camera, I decided to mount a GoPro Heroe3 on it as this is of a higher and more versatile capabilty than that of the FC40’s.


Starting up for take off is quite a simple procedure. Turn on the remote control, insert the battery into the Phantom, connect it’s plugs and shut the battery cover.

Now just wait for the rear light to start flashing steady green. Prior to any flying and as this was the first time I flew this machine, quickly flick the GPS/ATTI switch (S1) up and down six or so times, then you should be able to calibrate the compass by turning the Phantom 360 degrees clockwise and then holding it vertically and turning it another 360 degrees clockwise. This basically sets the compass to your location.

There is a large clip you can attach to the remote control to hold your smartphone so you can control the GoPro.

With the compass set, it’s really time to fly. Ensuring the S1 switch is in GPS mode slowly pull the left and right sticks down to opposite bottom corners and the rotors kick into life. Release the sticks to their central location. Then push the left hand stick up and the rotors start to go mad and up it goes.

That’s it really. Once the FC40 is up it’s really easy to control with GPS mode. Up, down, left, right – all on the left hand stick. Forward, backward and sideways all controlled with the right stick. If you panic, just let the stick go and hey presto, it hovers where it is.

Fly around, take some video and pictures, it really is that easy. For an introduction to flying these are really good machines to play with. You can be reasonably confident that should you experience a heavy landing, or a tree confrontation, your Phantom is going to survive as long as it has a softish landing!

Product overall view

Great kit for learning and playing around with. For an introduction to the world of UAVs it is definitely worth considering. Product details and specs are still available from DJI.

Commercial UAV Show

As a commercial operator I found I had to visit the #CommercialUAVShow a few weeks ago. Having just tuned in our Blog page, I thought I should share some of the experience with you.

Housed in the Excel Centre it was quite a big show with plenty of stands offering their take on the next big thing in the UAV world. I did find it interesting, especially chatting to people at stands such as Aberdeen University and Surrey Fire and Rescue services.

Here I wanted to particularly focus on two of the big UAV manufacturers. Of course, I am biased towards a particular manufacturer as I have their kit myself.

As a fairly new entrant to the scene I thought, in my head, that being a leading manufacturer DJI would have this massive stand with tech everywhere and people everywhere. I thought other manufacturers might have much smaller versions of this preconceived idea.

So, armed with my show map I headed into the fray. Now where is that stand? I meandered around for a while, catching up with the guys who ran the training program I was on. Inspected some high tech equipment, And then, there it was.

The #DJI stand in all it’s glory. I stood for quite some time as I waited to speak to a rep from DJI. As I stood, I inspected the stand. It really did look like a mess. One tall glass cabinet with a few Phantoms and their controllers thrown into it. A podium at the front and a tall desk at the back. There was hardly anyone there, but I waited and waited. The reps seemed to be more intent on talking to each other than anything else.

Finally, after 20 minutes, here was my chance. I caught the eye of one the chatting reps and he came over. So I was interested in the OSMO, just out of curiosity. Although he had two there, he really seemed reluctant for me to hold one. I had to ask five times. Then I asked him a few questions about it and he seemed to be lost. I kind of helped him along as I had read a few things about it, and then he wanted me to go, you could tell he just wanted to get back to chatting. How bizarre I thought as I was also interested in the Inspire. There was no sign of the new cameras, or any useful information. I really wasn’t inspired at all.

So, out with the map again. Lets visit the #Yuneec stand I thought. Would it be better?


Yuneec had all their range set out on plinths, very easy to inspect with full data sheets and pricing structures. They had an abundance of staff, each one fully clued in on what people are looking for. In this industry, innovation is key to the success of businesses like Yuneec and DJI. Although battery technology on the Yuneec range is not ‘smart’, they have some great ideas about other aspects of their business. Like customer focus. I could ask anything about the equipment and the team had the answer. They had a TV hooked into one of their remote control stations to allow you to learn to fly without damaging anything, just using a USB dongle.

Now that is a great idea. I was inspired by Yuneec and would look forward to testing one of their UAVs.

Although I am a DJI supporter, you have to question their commitment to customers when the experience was so incredibly different. Keep an eye out for Yuneec as they will definitely be taking off.

BBC Watchdog and the UAV

So, it looks like the BBC are going to ‘investigate’ UAVs. @BBCWatchdog ended their last show with a dramatic ‘Next time we are investigating drones falling out the sky’ [Thursday 5th November].


If you look carefully at BBC programming though, they are continuously using drone footage. From the ‘Bake Off’ to the Hairy Bikers to the News, it’s all there, and it’s great video of course.

Although we here at Air Focus do agree that the industry does need to be tightened up with regard to random flying, you get the feeling the cameras and the journalists are just poised in the wings waiting to pounce on the next unfortunate operator to have an accident. #watchdog need to be there because I agree with a lot they say, but please be careful with our fledgling industry as we strive to reach for the skies.

There are a huge number of applications for which the humble UAS is best suited, saving businesses time and money. A worthy exercise in the current financial climate.

Drone on.