Drone homework

I’ve been planning ahead for our trip to Europe later in the year. Part of that planning is working out where I can safely and legally fly my Mavic.

It’s reasonable to say that there are differences in the approach to drone rules and regulations between differing countries.

Take, for example, the Isle of Man:

Basically, with a few provisos here and there, together with a dollop of common sense and a healthy respect for other people, you can fly your drone up to 120m high anywhere outside that red circle.

You need to employ those same provisos, that common sense and respect in France too. But it’s a bit more complex than the IOM.
Here’s a map of the bit of France we’re going to:

Right.

Easy stuff first: no flying in the red bits; but yes flying (up to 150m, nogal) in the uncoloured bits. No problem.
From there though, it gets complicated. Pink areas allow flight to 30m altitude. You can fly up to 50m up in the orange (or is it peach?) areas. Even better, in the peach (or is it orange?) areas, you’re permitted to fly at 60m up from your takeoff spot. I’m not sure why they have this 10m difference. Presumably, something important happens (or is likely to happen) in this narrow strip of airspace in orange areas that doesn’t happen in the peach areas. Oh, and then in the yellow areas, you can fly up to a height of 100m.

I’m happy to comply with all of this, of course. It’s just that it’s massively complicated given that we go through a constantly changing kaleidoscope of colour as we wend our way downstream, so I’m going to have to keep a digital, zoomable copy of this map to hand.

The other thing is that for a lot of these restricted areas, it’s not very clear why there are restrictions. That doesn’t matter, of course – if it says not to fly, you don’t fly. It would just be nice to know what that bizarre mirror image of a question mark is bottom right. And why there’s that huge, weirdly shaped peach (orange?) swathe right across the middle of the map.

Obviously, I’m going to follow all the rules and regulations. There’s more than enough opportunity to get some decent shots and video in between all the bureaucracy.

But it’s going to be much more simple to chuck Florence the Mavic up once we get over to the Isle of Man.

That lifestyle though…

Apparently, it’s been a year since photographer/videographer Peter McKinnon became Youtuber Peter McKinnon. And while there are many individuals with far higher follower counts on that platform, it seems to me (at least as one of his 1.8 million followers) that there surely can’t be too many of them who are as genuine, down to earth and just plain “nice” as he is.

Here’s his short review of his first year on Youtube:

I love the shoes motif. The excitement of new beginnings, but safely protecting the old memories.

So here’s to another year of adventure, exploration, seeing the world, staying grounded, staying motivated, staying happy…

I’ve always been good at staying grounded, (mostly) motivated and (generally) happy. It’s the other bits I need to work on.

But if the rewards of these attributes are basically jetting around the world and taking amazing photos, I’m willing give it a go.

In my bag

Well, not actually my bag, but that of Canadian photographer, vlogger and all-round nice guy Peter McKinnon. Last night, he released a video just ahead of a(nother) trip abroad showing us exactly what equipment he was taking with him:

I have to say that I’m a bit jealous. He has a lot of lovely kit. But then, he is a professional photographer. I’m not. I’m a professional microbiologist and yes, I have some great lab equipment. But there are times (many of them) when I’d much rather be travelling all over the world with my drone and some very, very expensive cameras and lenses than poking TB in the laboratory.

And, while we’re on this envy trip, can I just point out Peter’s irritatingly amazing abilities in photo and video editing? “Hashtag goals”.

I was busy writing this post when suddenly, as if to complete the trifecta of covetousness, he casually dropped this tweet this morning:

[6000 mutters several (or more) swear words under his breath]

Given his talent and that place, we’re likely to get some very special images in the near future. Something I’m really looking forward to.

It’s still sickening though.

Travel times

Family friends of ours have upped sticks and left the dessicated shell of a city which is Cape Town. Not, I hasten to add, because of the impending doom of Day Zero, but rather because they decide to travel the world for a year.

Good year to choose, guys.

Anyway, long story short, they’re (obviously) blogging their incredible trip, and they’ve just posted their first update from Buenos Aires on their blog here, and their Instagram is here.

The brilliant thing about blogging and IG’ing their trip is not just the fact that they can share their travels and experiences with friends back home in “real time”, but also that they will have a lasting record of their year away once they are back.

Go live vicariously through them.

Siemens AirDrop initiative – a bit of reality

I’m sorry to have to do this. I already did it on Twitter, but clearly very few people saw that, so now I’m doing it here as well.

Here’s what I’m talking about:

Gauteng travellers are being encouraged to swop their baggage allowance for water.
During a one-day activation at OR Tambo and Cape Town International airports, travellers can participate by having their luggage weighed at the Siemens AirDrop stand, located in the check-in hall opposite the self-service check-in counters (directly next to ACSA Info Desk at OR Tambo). Any travellers whose luggage is five (or more) kilos under the weight limit will be able to ‘exchange’ their unused kilograms for litres of water that will be delivered to Cape Town on their behalf.

Sounds great, because:

This social challenge is the perfect example of how South Africans can do something helpful for their fellow citizens’. So if you are travelling to the Mother City, show them some love and donate some water to help alleviate the pressure.

And let’s make this very clear right now: anything that alerts visitors to our current plight here, anything that raises awareness, anything that jogs their memory is a good thing.

But…

I’ve been doing some rudimentary calculations and other than the raising awareness thing, this really isn’t going to help.

Around 2.2 million people fly from Joburg to Cape Town each year. It’s the 10th busiest route in the world. So it’s a good place to go if you want to find big numbers of people for a stunt an activation like this. But even if every single one of those annual travellers brought down 5 litres of lovely, fresh Gautengy water with them, it would only amount to…

11 million litres.

And while that sounds like a lot, there are a couple of other things to take into consideration before you get excited.
Right now, Capetonians are using 630 million litres of water each day. That’s 26.25 million litres an hour.

And now remember that this is “a one-day activation”, meaning that this offer will only apply to a maximum of just about 6000 people who will be flying that route that day. If every single one of them coming down that day donates 5 litres of water, that comes to 30000 litres.

That’s enough to keep us going for 4 seconds.

Four. Seconds. 

Four.

So yes, as a tool for raising awareness around the drought (and of Siemens, obviously), it’s great.

Siemens say:

It’s this kind of ingenuity that has made us the global leader in intelligent water management.

But as a way of intelligently managing water, this simply doesn’t work.

At all.

Sorry.