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Distance Obsessions

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by robiefield, Oct 2, 2015.

  1. robiefield

    Aug 20, 2015
    Likes Received:
    I've been participating in special interest internet forums since the weaning days of 1200 bps dialup services too many decades ago. To a degree, you see many of the "same" people on all these forums. Each forum evolves its own loosely defined sub populations of supporters, resident old guys, members from bright green noob to faded patina elders, and the usual assortment of comics, instigators, trolls, and twats.

    Each forum evolves its own currency to inspire perceived merit and admiration in the eyes of the rest. People on homebuilt human aircraft forums use aerobatic performance as a measure of design robustness and capability. Some motorcycle forums treasure those and their bikes that can fly them through the air and perform acrobatic maneuvers in the air. Some other motorcycle forums treasure those and their bikes that can ride them great distances, such as 1,500 miles in a day (BBG), or riding from one US coast to the opposite in under 50 hours (50CC).

    So aerobatics, acrobatics, and distance accomplishments (achieved through years of conditioning, training, and practice) are examples of forum currency for prestiege, in arenas of interest where the vast majority of participants do not engage in such demonstrations of bravado and bleeding edge skills. Most pilots will never perform acrobatic maneuvers, most motorcycle riders will never attempt a triple backflips or distance rides requiring consecutive 20-hour days in the saddle.

    It's great to pick heroes and to admire those who can push the edges of a sport or interest. Is it bad when brand new folks to an interest have difficulty in distinguishing between pushing extremes and basic rudimentary elements of <area of interest> competency? Interesting question...

    As someone brand new to the DJI Phantom, the one word that comes across as the currency of mastery and coolness in the forums is Distance. Put it in the search and watch the results pile up! POW! We are *huge* on distance. Takes five seconds to find a post from a new P3S owner with five flights and DISTANCE isn't enough. All over, just like posts about "Selling P3S for P3A because of DISTANCE". Not even an hour flight time, and upgrading a bird they haven't even learned to fly well for one with more distance.

    Folks complaining about distance and needing a bigger bird without realizing that flying behind a bunch of trees or nestled at the feet of a dozen skyscrapers in an urban center is a really bad idea, or WHY it is a bad idea. But still they need MORE DISTANCE.

    I'm an old fart, and distance is OK with me. It's not one of my flight goals, but I have NO standing to judge others' interests. I do acknowledge that the greater the distance, the greater the chance for trouble, and the farther out you are, the greater chance any trouble might result in loss of bird and / or damage to people and property. To me, that's about risk management. Good risk management requires good information about what is required for competency, what is required to do "extreme" stuff, and the risk penalties between the two.

    I do shake my head when brand new UAV pilots are obsessed with distance and modding before learning rudimentary basics like antenna positioning and antenna null spots, how to confirm Home Lock, the difference in GPS and ATTI modes, and how to operate in both. I see stuff here every day equivalent to a 16-year old who's never been to Driver's Ed complaining that a Corvette isn't enough, that only a Ferrari will do... And there is the omnipresent attitude that one usually only can find in the world's sixteen year olds who know *everything* and can't believe how dumb the rest of the world is... and thus should serve them in their endeavors to be more extreme (while basic competency is still not complete).

    I know better to write this in a place where a lot of new people are. The colicky toddlers that perambulate through the Standard forums will erupt in a collective howl of juice-box stained indignation. I'm just observing the culture, I don't think I can change it.

    So far, I've been able to do everything I imagined I might do when I ordered my Standard. I've done golf course flyovers. I've done aerial views of my house showing mountain vistas and the surrounding mountain landmarks. I'm not saying -at all- that everybody or anybody should be like me, at all, but when did the whole UAV thing become about how high one can go past the legal height into possible real trouble zones?

    There is so much amazing, breathtakingly beautiful art one can take with these things entirely within OEM specs. You get much beyond OEM heights, and you get stuff that looks more like cartography and Google Earth sat shots--which is fine, but you don't get "wow" visual shots at extreme heights, except, "WOW, that is really really high up." But the same logic we tell people worried about privacy when we fly applies to high altitudes--when the house is a speck, you really can't see much detail."

    I'm content to be a weenie old fart who'll worry about doing distance flights after I've got much more mastery of the bird's capabilities and new enhancements at in-close range. I'll balance risk and reward and be accountable for my missteps and mistakes. I just wish there was a way to make the culture praise pilots for being responsible and competent before lunging for bleeding-edge distance mods, to pay homage to the (perceived) forum currency of extreme distance flights.

    I'm not complaining about distance flyers, I just regret the culture of distance before competency--this will accelerate the rapid increase in regulation by state and federal laws due largely to the publicized acts of ignorant and careless UAV pilots.
    #1 robiefield, Oct 2, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2015
  2. Skylark

    Jul 14, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Wiltshire, UK
    It is a sad fact that, unpalatable to some as this may be, glorification of extreme distance and height exploits beyond the regulations in the UK of 500 meters Visual Line of Sight and 400 feet Above Ground Level as stipulated by the CAA will inevitably lead to more regulation, more NFZs and a general curtailing of existing flight privileges.
    #2 Skylark, Oct 2, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2015
    robiefield likes this.
  3. bbfpv

    Feb 3, 2015
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    Long Island, NY
    Best line in months. :)
  4. N017RW

    May 2, 2014
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    Palm Beach Co.- FL
    Here, here, bbfpv.

    Nice post OP.

    As I read it I realized the subconsciousness of the "currency" allegory and how well it explains the human condition of these things.
    Never did it come to my mind in the way it was explained.

    The quest for these feats typically first show up as CF props, because everything is better if it's CF!, and 2 - 5 watt amps even if 250mW is enough because 2X more power = 2X more range... (not).
    Folks don't realize that even IF you can get UAS insurance that the RF mods, for example, which enable these feats (Windsurfers likely not included) will most likely void said coverage and represent willful acts of physical modification, disregarding current regulations, and ignorance of the reasons they are put in place furthering their liability at the same time reducing or eliminating liability from DJI in these cases as they have received type approval as sold.

    As a HAM I risk my License should I engage in such (on these bands) despite the low risk of getting caught.
    #4 N017RW, Oct 2, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2015
  5. Fplvert

    May 28, 2014
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    Southern Idaho USA
    Great post robiefield! Glad you're onboard,
    dirkclod likes this.
  6. James Connerly

    Sep 4, 2015
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    Exactly the reason I have been flying low and slow until I have more experience. The interesting scenery is on the ground, not in the air.
    robiefield likes this.
  7. Fyod

    May 21, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Central EU
    I don't engage in it, though I can see the curiosity involved.
    Its like car guys - some will talk about their fastest speed, best fuel consumption, not me. I take my car to a track and work on my driving skills in a prepared environment. I make mods to my car to make it more capable and fun, not the fastest in a quarter mile, not the loudest or most neon lights.
    But the diversity is what makes us human.
  8. Bryce

    Jun 13, 2015
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    The people that fly out miles wonder why the others fly within 10 feet of themselves.
  9. LuvMyTJ

    Staff Member

    Feb 9, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Live! From New York!
    Great post with a lot of great insight. ;) About a year ago the big thing was height, now it seems to be distance. :rolleyes:

    "I'm content to be a weenie old fart who'll worry about doing distance flights after I've got much more mastery of the bird's capabilities and new enhancements at in-close range."
    Problem with that is once you learn it properly you will know better than to send it up or out to far. Until there is collision avoidance built in the risk is to great.
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