The notion of flying a drone conjures up images of the open air, beautiful scenery and undiscovered visual treasures. It’s no wonder the drone revolution has captured the imagination of millions of people across the globe. From budding photographers to roofers and estate agents, our customers span a variety of industries and interests, all with the common aim of collecting images and video from a new perspective.
We asked the people who downloaded our recent Drone Market Report to complete a quick survey, culminating in the question “If you could take a drone anywhere, where would you go?”. As expected, we received a huge range of answers, from the sublime (“I’d pick up my whole family and whisk them away on a dream holiday”) to the ridiculous – “I’d spend the time flying over the neighbors gardens to find out who’s cat cr*ps in my vegetable patch”! Here’s our pick of the best.
Please note: These destinations constitute fantasy flight locations and this post does not mean that you can fly a drone in any of these areas. Always check with local authorities for ‘No-Fly’ restrictions and local laws before you travel and deploy your drone.
The first dream destination to fly a drone is Antarctica. Perhaps this destination appeals to so many drone users because of its inaccessible nature, maybe it’s the wildlife or perhaps it’s the dramatic scenery and visual feasts such as the Aurora Borealis. Whatever it is, Antarctica is possibly the least accessible location on our list for drone operators.
Antarctica is regarded as the last great wilderness on our planet. Covering 14 million square kilometres, the continent is remote and for the majority, unspoilt by human hand. Say you are lucky enough to get to Antarctica, there are seriously strict rules for flying – for good reason too.
You may think the remote location and lack of built-up areas would make Antarctica perfect for flying a drone. The reason for the stringent rules against random drone flights is to protect the environment. The Antarctic Treaty System exists to ensure that any human presence has minimal impact on the delicate ecosystem. All human activities on the continent are subject to an environmental impact assessment which helps to keep the balance. This includes tourist visits in addition to exploration, conservation and other ecological activities.
The opportunity to capture images and video of some of the earth’s most incredible wildlife was surely a draw for the drone operators who voted for Antarctica. Emperor penguins, an abundance of whale species and the wandering albatross are all to be found on the continent. Who wouldn’t want the opportunity to get close-quarter footage which you only usually see on a wildlife programme?
If you are travelling to Antarctica with the intention of taking your drone, it is critical to check with your travel operator and seek a permit for flight. The IAATO (International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators) have specific guidance for tourists here.
4. Global Sporting Event
One of the most prevalent industries helping to push the boundaries of drone technology is broadcasting. Even the Great British Bake Off used drone footage in their opening titles. The beauty of drones is that they allow a bird’s-eye view of the activities taking place without the need for the expense of a helicopter, pilot and camera crew.
Despite the growing adoption of UAV technology for broadcasting, our respondents identified one of the key areas which can, and probably will be revolutionised by drones in the near future – live sports coverage.
Many organisations, including Premier League football teams, have started using UAVs to film training sessions – something which wouldn’t have been possible without paying for a helicopter. The International Cricket Council recently introduced drones to help assess pitch health and topology to allow teams and groundskeepers to assess conditions on a regular basis. These are just two examples of where drones are helping sportspeople stay on top of their game, but what about live coverage? Surely, a drone’s eye view of the Monaco Grand Prix would give better real-time footage and lower costs for broadcasters?
The benefits of aerial footage are not lost on sports promoters, associations and broadcasters but the safety aspects remain a concern. Filming something like the World Cup Final or SuperBowl presents a whole new set of risks and questions.
Deploying a drone anywhere where crowds of people are congregated is a serious no-no under normal circumstances. The reckless, unauthorised operation of drones has, in the past, led to units crashing into spectators. Public safety is paramount at large scale events so it comes as no surprise that organisers have been reluctant to embrace drone technology up until now.
The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic organisers were one of the first to utilise UAVs for enhanced aerial footage of skiing and snowboarding events. The Rio Olympics followed suit with spectacular drone filmed scenes of Christ the Redeemer supporting the live aerial coverage of the rowing and sailing. Only events which took place in wide-open spaces were filmed using drones, yet this has set a precedent for live sporting events. At the 2017 SuperBowl, Intel launched 300 drones in the air as part of Lady Gaga’s halftime show. The X Games regularly includes drone footage in their coverage.
Safety is at the top of the agenda as drone technology continues to evolve. Drone tethers are helping to improve the credibility, safety and operating capabilities of drones for broadcasting. Tethers ensure that even in high winds, drones cannot stray from their intended path. They also allow operators to fly continuously, without needing to return home to change batteries. Add to this the ability to live-stream 4K data via the tether cable and you have a drone setup which is ideal for filming live events.
3. New Zealand
Thanks to its jaw-dropping landscapes and epic coastlines, New Zealand has become one of the most popular destinations for film directors and cinematic location scouts. From fantasy favourites such as The Chronicles of Narnia and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings to real-life dramas like Vertical Limit, the scenery found in New Zealand is some of the most awe-inspiring in the world. It comes as no surprise that these beautiful islands are number 3 on our list of ‘dream destinations’ for flying a drone.
Regardless of your area of business, the opportunity to capture aerial footage or images of the unspoilt countryside and coastlines of New Zealand is a great pull for any drone operator. Like most countries, New Zealand enforces strict rules for RPAS operation. Flying a drone for commercial use is prohibited without prior authorisation, you must not fly above 120 metres, you must maintain visual line of sight of your drone and you must obtain permissions from land or property owners. The weight of your drone and payloads must also not exceed 25KG.
Stunning scenery aside, the remote and challenging nature of the New Zealand countryside means that commercial drone adoption in the country is on the increase, specifically in the agricultural sector. Sheep farmers are using drones to observe their flocks remotely. Crop farmers are deploying drones for spraying and monitoring of their fields. Where it may have taken hours to inspect a boundary fence, a landowner can now do it in minutes. Drones are making life easier and helping to make businesses more efficient in some of the most remote areas of the country.
Despite NZ CAA rules specifying that a drone must be within your line of sight, the country is leading BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) trials for many different applications. The New Zealand CAA is working closely with commercial drone operators to establish safety protocols which will support the growth of the market and use of drone technology whilst keeping people safe. As of May, new restricted airspace was made available for BVLOS trials, providing an exciting opportunity for commercial operators looking to push the boundaries and benefits of drone technology.
In February this year, a Taranaki drone company carried out the first BVLOS survey in the country. Drone Technologies Ltd used a drone to survey over 30 kilometres of power lines in the Rimutaka Ranges. Like much of New Zealand, the Rimutaka Ranges feature stunning, if not difficult to access areas, with ridges and gullies which are difficult for manned aircraft to navigate. The trial proved that drones offer a safer and more efficient alternative to hands-on surveys with the ability to collect data quickly in difficult to access locations.
Thinking of flying a drone in New Zealand and want to know where you can and can’t fly? Take a look at Airshare – a hub for UAV users
You can also get up to date, official information from the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand
2. Site of a Natural Disaster
The term ‘dream destination’ may not be accurate for number 2 on our list, yet one of our respondents defied the norm and stated that he would like the ability to use his drone skills to assist in the event of a natural disaster. The benefits of drones for this application means that we feel compelled to include it.
Despite the lifelong efforts of scientists, NGOs and geohazard specialists, natural disasters happen. Landslides, earthquakes, floods and fires continue to cause death and injury to thousands of people each year.
In 2015, Nepal suffered its worst earthquake in 80 years. Nearly 9000 people died, with over 22000 people injured. This was one of the first times drones were used to assist in the event of a natural disaster on a large scale. With transportation infrastructure damaged, including local runways, it was impossible for crews to deploy manned airborne search and rescue units. 3 drones were used to fly above ravaged areas to feed information and images to ground rescue crews. Immediately after the earthquake drone footage was used to created 3D maps of the worst-hit areas to enable teams to prioritise rescue efforts and eventual clean-up operations.
In August 2016, an earthquake hit central Italy, causing the deaths of nearly 300 people. Firefighters deployed drones to search for survivors and assess the stability of remaining buildings, without rescuers having to put themselves at risk. The drone footage was also used to assess the scale of damage in the following months, allowing authorities to prioritise the repair of critical infrastructure.
‘Drones for Good’ initiatives are springing up all over the world. Forget having your shopping delivered by drone – the ability to deliver remote healthcare, assist in search and rescue missions and identify future risks are surely the most important innovations in drone research and development.
Our top dream destination was voted for by over 35% of people who filled in our survey…….the Himalayas. Separating India and China, the Himalayas represent the pinnacle of many people’s travel ambitions. From Mount Everest to historic and spiritual Tibet – the highest region on earth – the Himalayas are home to some of the world’s most spectacular sites.
The Himalayas span five different countries, Nepal, India, Bhutan, China and Pakistan, making it a difficult area to generalise about rules for flying a drone. Different laws apply depending on where you are. Following the devastating earthquake in 2015, Nepal introduced the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Flight Procedure which sought to give guidance to people operating drones to assist with relief efforts. Because of the conflicting political climate, each nation is highly protective of its internal security and drones are suspected to pose a serious security risk.
In Nepal, drones are not allowed to be flown in a ‘manner to cause disturbance to the peace, security and privacy of persons’. Flying a drone is not permitted within 1000 metres of ‘security agencies and other sensitive areas’. Anyone intending to fly a drone must also inform the Ministry of Information and Communications, as well as the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation. Late in 2015, two Chinese journalists were arrested for flying a drone over the Nepali Army Headquarters – you have been warned!
Respect the Rules!
Flying a drone is restricted in many areas and for many different reasons – some for safety, some for the protection of the environment and local habitat. Reckless drone operators stand to make life difficult for commercial and leisure pilots who have respect for the safety and security of others. Wherever you choose to fly your drone, always check local rules and no-fly restrictions as each country now has its own laws about drone flights. If you aren’t sure, don’t fly.
Want more information about becoming a qualified drone pilot or flying a drone for commercial use? Contact the COPTRZ team on 0330 111 7177 or contact us.