Restricted FLight Plan
Producing an aerial film at Lydd Golf Club is no easy task, as half of the course is part of Lydd London Ashford Airport and is a hub for many light aircraft and private jets. It is also the base of the Kent & Sussex Search & Rescue Helicopter and is flanked by Dungeness Power Station, two military live firing sites, a wind farm and a nature reserve as well as being marked as a microlight flight area.
All approved pilots are tested on theoretical competence of air law, part of this being flight map reading. Coordinates for Lydd were given for us to locate and the whole area was flagged as being one of the most complicated places to fly in the UK. This was a challenge too hard to decline and we approached Lydd Golf Club about producing a promotional video for their website.
Prior to our scheduled flight operation we visited the airport and tested the UAVs with the Air Traffic Controller by our side, he was as intrigued as we were. The aim was to ensure satellite connection, check for any interference and ensure there were no signalling issues between controller and UAVs. Due to our drones being equipped with geofencing software, the propellers refused to rotate and the aircraft was grounded. Geofencing automatically prevents our UAVs from entering sensitive airspace and acts like a virtual barrier.
A full assessment of the golf course was conducted. We located our boundaries prior to filming and a risk assessment was produced which covered everything required to complete a range of flight paths. Our flight mission was completed in a safe and efficient manner with no reportable occurrences and our client was very happy with the results.
We were in direct communication with the ATC throughout the flight operation and we found the relationship that we built up previously with the control tower stood us in good stead when the helicopter became rapidly operational and flew directly over our flight location.
Our spotters on the ground notified the remote pilot of the helicopter activity and we landed the drone to make the airspace safe, we then made contact with the ATC, who confirmed the routine flight and notified us of our clearance to continue and allocated another flight window.
Helicopters are regularly our biggest issue as they often fly below 400ft and can come out of nowhere. This is one of the reasons we prefer to operate as part of a trained flight team with observers and spotters, minimising risk to incursions and on hand to deal with crowd control on the ground, which is probably the most common of issues.