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Flyaway no more!

Flyaway no more! Overcoming the scourge of the UAV world BY WILLIAM LEVASSEUR Flyaway! This little word strikes fear in the heart of the drone operator. When you crash, there are usually parts that can be salvaged to rebuild. But with a real “gone back to China,” never-ever found again flyaway, you are left with nothing—not even the knowledge of what went wrong. What is a flyaway? A flyaway doesn’t necessarily mean that your aircraft is never retrieved. The FAA defines a flyaway as “an interruption or loss of the control link, or when the pilot is unable to effect control of the aircraft and, as a result, the UAV is not operating in a predictable or planned manner.” A loss of the control link doesn’t always qualify as a flyaway if the flight controller manages to return and land the UAV safely. 28

Above: Chris Newman gets ready to film in New Zealand (photo by Jeremy Black). Right: Aaron Sorenson operates the camera gimbal in Peru (photo by Chris Newman). Below: Chris gets ready to fly at Milford Sound, New Zealand (photo by Maddie Skeggs). HE LOST CONTROL OF HIS ,000 FLYING CAMERA, 100 FEET OVER THE AMAZON RAINFOREST, WHILE SHOOTING A VIDEO FOR ANIMAL PLANET. “IT WAS SUPER INTENSE. YOUR MIND KIND OF LOCKS UP. YOU CAN’T COMPREHEND WHAT IS GOING ON, BECAUSE OF THE SHOCK.” I set out to find how to prevent flyaways or, if the worst happens, how to react to one. Unfortunately, most accounts on the Internet are brief and, often, the pilot will cast blame on the multirotor manufacturer without any further introspection. In some cases, I even suspect that people are posting fake flyaway videos to get YouTube views. There is nothing fake, however, about the video that CineChopper president and pilot Chris Newman posted after his ordeal. He recalls how he reacted when he lost control of his ,000 flying camera, 100 feet over the Amazon rainforest, while shooting a video for Animal Planet. “It was super intense. Your mind kind of locks up. You can’t comprehend what is going on, because of the shock.” Newman still had throttle control over his coaxial octocopter, but nothing else. He didn’t trust the return-to-home feature, because the dense foliage forced him to take off with poor GPS coverage. He also hesitated to bring down the aircraft, for fear of crashing into the trees. With hindsight, he admits that was a mistake. “I started running towards it, to get underneath it as much as possible and bring it down, but for some reason it kept moving away from me.” Eventually, Newman performed a crash landing. Fortunately, he managed to recover his aircraft and the damage was minimal. Flight Success 29

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