Happy Tuesday! I have an amazing story to share with you today. I’m somewhat embarrassed yet over joyed to share what happened yesterday to me and the Phantom. I had yesterday off because of MLK day and I really wanted to go flying somewhere other than our neighborhood. I piddled around in the morning and then around 11:00 a.m. the sun came out and even though there were a lot of white clouds in the sky there was also a good amount of sunshine. It was 34 degrees so that wasn’t too bad. The wind was a little high about 22 m.p.h. but acceptable.
So where to go? I wanted to take an image of the Julian Dubuque Bridge I said to myself, so I loaded up the Phantom and a camera and off to East Dubuque I went. I went to the boat launch on the Illinois side of the river because it is close to the bridge and I reasoned I wouldn’t have to venture too far from my ground location. When I arrived it was apparent they had not cleared the snow in some time and so there was no good place to launch the Phantom from. As I sat there contemplating my next move I reasoned also that flying close to the bridge might be distracting to some motorist and that might cause an accident and I’d spend the rest of my life in jail. 🙂
Ah ha, to the Great River walk and I can take a video and some images of the old rusty railroad bridge. Yep that is what I’m going to do. Again I won’t have to get too far away from where I’m standing so it will be perfect. Fast forward now I’m standing on the river walk and I have the Phantom sitting on a circular pattern on the walk and thinking about my flight plan. So I fired up the Phantom and it jumped into the air. Now it is here that I have to explain a few things. First of all I wear transition lenses and they get very dark. Very dark indeed. So it is hard to see my iPhone and the flight app with them on. If I take them off I can see my iPhone but it is a big blur so I have issues.
Second the river is completely covered with snow. Snow is white (remember that), there are a lot of white clouds in the sky (remember that) and the Phantom is white. So I ran it up to an altitude of 112 feet so I could be sure and get a good clearance over the bridge and then I stopped and rotated the Phantom so I was looking at it from the other side. That is where I must have gotten disoriented. I could not see the Phantom so I wasn’t sure exactly where it was. I could make out the bridge on the iPhone so I flew it like that. I thought I cleared the bridge and was back near the place where I was standing but nothing looked right and of course I couldn’t see the Phantom so I was mildly concerned.
Finally I got it oriented to where I could see the Wisconsin Bridge and the Railroad Bridge and felt like I was re-acclimated once again. The wind was pretty strong and the more I tried to come back to the bridge the farther away I seemed to get. I couldn’t see my monitor good enough to really tell where I was but I also knew I could eventually figure it out. Then the worst thing happened. A “Lost signal with the Phantom” message appeared on my iPhone. Oh CRAP!! Now what. Well I can’t believe I’m that far away but I must have flown further than I originally thought. So I started walking South on the river walk thinking I was over by the Julian Dubuque Bridge.
I couldn’t connect to the Phantom so I figured I must have gotten turned around and it was North. I walked to the end of the river walk and then climbed a fence and walk another 150 yards or so trying to reconnect with the Phantom. It was nowhere to be found. OMG, now what? How am I going to explain this to Jeanne, to my readers of the blog, to my friends at work, hell to the insurance company? To say I felt dazed and dejected would be an understatement. I felt really bad. How could I have been that stupid, with less than an hour of flying experience under my belt, to take it over the Mississippi River. I walked back a lot slower than I had gone out so it was about 25 minutes from first taking off by the time and I knew that the Phantom had a 25 minute flight endurance on one battery. I finally got back to the bench and where I had left the Phantom’s case.
As I approached the bench there on the River Walk not more than 12 inches from where it had taken off set my Phantom. In one piece, fully powered down and just sitting there waiting for me to pick it up. So I reconnected with its WiFi and stopped recording. I had hopped it had recorded the entire event so I could tell where in the hell it had gone to. Sure enough it was still recording so I stopped the recording (see Lesson #5) and then powered down the Phantom again. I wanted to kiss it but I didn’t (in public anyway.) 🙂
The video below is the flight that I made. I cut out the long 10 minute hovering part until it went into fail safe mode. I’m impressed, just like they said it would do if it lost its connection with the controller it would return home. I didn’t turn the controller off until I started my walk back. So even though I had lost contact with the WiFi connection from the Phantom it was still receiving contact with the controller. When I shut the controller off, that is when it went into its fail safe mode and returned to its launch point. WOW!
So if you want to watch the video it is about 10 minutes long. Again I trimmed the sitting and waiting for me to turn off the controller so it could come home. Lesson #6.
Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy your day and be careful.