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Sunrise photo shoot and a few surprises.

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I got up early and made my way down to the river to photograph the sunrise from a park on the waterfront. I had the drone up and in position when 2 guys came into the park and noticed my drone up in the air out over the river. They asked me a few questions and then one of them asked what the other thing in the sky was near my drone. I looked down and to its left and there was a second drone there. A few minutes passed while I was shooting some pictures and then I noticed a third drone. Believe it or not a little while later there was a fourth drone.

I was just hovering so I wasn't concerned about hitting any of the other drones but it occurred to me they may be moving around. Then I spotted 2 more drones down low. They were maneuvering around quite a bit and one of them climbed up much higher to join the group. The other one stayed down low. Eventually the sun got up high enough that it wasn't a sunrise picture anymore and the other drones all came down. I maneuvered mine back over me and brought it straight down.

I've flown from this spot before and have never seen another drone there let alone 5 more. I can see where this could get a little treacherous. Has anybody else experienced a crowded airspace like this one? How did you handle it?
 

Ty Pilot

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One thing about flying Ua's in crowded airspace when you are controlling via VLOS is that the pilot's position on the ground makes it very difficult to discern position of the other aircraft, relative to your own. For example an aircraft can be higher and farther away but if it is in line with the LOS of your aircraft, it can seem as if it is close. Keep in mind that we are looking up at an angle, so now distance can change perceived altitude and visa versa.

I've flown RC and UA's for 42 years and I can promise this: trying to hit another flying aircraft is virtually impossible - when you want to - while at the same time; mid air collisions with other UA's can and will happen - when you least expect it. If I've seen one, I've seen a hundred. I have in the past flown with upwards 15 aircraft in the same space and there is a general 'rule' of thumb used to perform such flights.

Best advice is to always keep your aircraft in 'blue sky', and what I mean by this is; never let another UA within a 'cone of sky' as you perceive it from your position. As an example; lets say you're out 500 feet and up 100 feet hovering and your friend takes their aircraft out to 700 feet at 150 feet. Clearly you are in different airspace but then suppose your friend fly's to a point almost directly behind and above your aircraft as viewed from your position. With small adjustments he could almost hide behind your aircraft as seen from where you are standing - he will pass into the 'clear sky' you see around your aircraft as this happens.

This is what you want to avoid. Never accept your own analysis of where the other aircraft is in 3D space - move to clear space while avoiding closure to other aircraft. The reason for this is simple - you must not spend your time calculating other aircraft's moves, as this will only serve to degrade the attention you give your own. In the case of five (5) other aircraft? I would have first separated as necessary and then flown back to my position immediately.

This is also a classic example of why we must fly VLOS. See and avoid.
 
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Flying a drone in crowded airspace is dangerous. Try flying in a GA aircraft at a large fly in! Scary. I had a B-25 do a pass down the runway while I was on short final. Target rich environment in either case. You just hope everyone has there eyes looking outside and not buried in the cockpit/monitor .
 
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You could check out Google play store see if yous can get the drone assist app were you can log your drone and if anyother user does use the app then yous should all see each other I know it's NATS so not sure if this is just UK

 

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