Do you have a spotter?

Joined
Dec 1, 2017
Messages
407
Likes
246
Location
UK/South Africa
#1
I almost always fly/film with my wife/colleague as a spotter. She is brilliant in so many ways.

Two brains and pairs of eyes are definitely better than one. I concentrate on the controls and framing the best composition, usually looking at the screen’s live video feed. She diligently watches that the drone isn’t about to fly into a mountainside, tree top, or bush, usually using binoculars - as well as checking that anything crucial is being done as planned.

The system works very well. We haven’t crashed - and the nearest we’ve come to disaster is once when I was having to work the drone alone. It’s the filming which ultimately matters, which is where the most concentration must be focused. We don’t fly as a hobby.

What about others? Spotter? Or no spotter?
 
Joined
Jul 26, 2017
Messages
1,690
Likes
784
Location
Irvine (Orange County) CA
#2
I almost always fly/film with my wife/colleague as a spotter. She is brilliant in so many ways.

Two brains and pairs of eyes are definitely better than one. I concentrate on the controls and framing the best composition, usually looking at the screen’s live video feed. She diligently watches that the drone isn’t about to fly into a mountainside, tree top, or bush, usually using binoculars - as well as checking that anything crucial is being done as planned.

The system works very well. We haven’t crashed - and the nearest we’ve come to disaster is once when I was having to work the drone alone. It’s the filming which ultimately matters, which is where the most concentration must be focused. We don’t fly as a hobby.

What about others? Spotter? Or no spotter?
I have flown with a spotter just for fun. I'm reluctant to take my eyes off the AC and the sense of security heightens when you know someone else is focused on what's happening in the air while I'm focusing on getting the camera settings dialed in.
 
Joined
May 1, 2017
Messages
1,777
Likes
985
Age
65
Location
N.central wv. U.S.
#3
I never have a spotter. I only have problems when people distract me! Maybe because I than have to concentrate on hearing them. I suck at multi task. My wife knows to stay away from me.

I have greater confidence in the drones ability by watching the screen. "Mono task". I have gotten use to judging distance with my mobile. I fly forward noticing what is on the sides, before turning. Also when I flying low I have obstetrical avoidance on. It's not for everybody, but it is the way I am made. My wife understands that's me.
I have a harder time by watching the Phantom and judging distance. It has gotten me in trouble.
 
Joined
Jan 4, 2016
Messages
7,113
Likes
2,708
Location
Australia
#4
I never have a spotter. I only have problems when people distract me! Maybe because I than have to concentrate on hearing them. I suck at multi task. My wife knows to stay away from me.

I have greater confidence in the drones ability by watching the screen. "Mono task". I have gotten use to judging distance with my mobile. I fly forward noticing what is on the sides, before turning. Also when I flying low I have obstetrical avoidance on. It's not for everybody, but it is the way I am made. My wife understands that's me.
I have a harder time by watching the Phantom and judging distance. It has gotten me in trouble.
As men we have the option of avoiding child birth..... I attended the event for all mine though.
 
Likes: mikero
Joined
Jan 4, 2016
Messages
7,113
Likes
2,708
Location
Australia
#5
I live and fly on the coastline, as do numerous private and tourist/emergency/military AC- often in close and down low. I like to have at least one spotter with me with binoculars so we have advance warning of approaching aircraft. From my vantage point this ensures I can always have the drone back close to my launch point in good time to be well clear. The exception might be an airforce jet but we only see them once a year if that.
 
Joined
May 1, 2017
Messages
1,777
Likes
985
Age
65
Location
N.central wv. U.S.
#6
As men we have the option of avoiding child birth..... I attended the event for all mine though.
I attended all 3 of mine. ....I loved it. I had a much better time than my wife.
I learned all that Lamaze stuff. I tried to use it. My wife yelled at me to leave her a lone. She told me to just hold her hand and shut up so she could concentrate.
Same with me and my P4. She stands near me to keep other people away from me.
 
Joined
Dec 1, 2017
Messages
407
Likes
246
Location
UK/South Africa
#7
Research has clearly shown that best performance occurs when we focus on a single task - and that nobody actually excels at multi-tasking (not even women, although they do noticeably better than men).

As has been said above, distractions (such as in the form of the general public standing nearby) don’t help.

For myself, the biggest benefit of having a capable spotter is to really focus on filming - specifically getting the best composition, with video requiring constant adjustments (unlike stills photography).

Judging the height of the drone in relation to potential obstacles (which the drone’s sensors could miss, such as tree tops) is another key area, especially on any terrain that isn’t flat. Our mountainous landscape is seriously challenging, not least near sunrise and sunset.
 

BigAl07

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 5, 2015
Messages
5,730
Likes
4,179
Age
48
Location
Western North Carolina
#9
We almost always fly with a Visual Observer when flying commercially. When flying for fun in my back yard etc I'm usually not up high enough to be a threat to air traffic so none needed.

Our SOP for our company was written back when a VO was legally required so we built that into the SOP. Even when my "designated" VO isn't available (Emergency Services Ops) we will train and use a VO out of an abundance of caution.
 
Joined
Nov 25, 2017
Messages
88
Likes
37
Age
33
#10
If possible I do. I think I've only logged a few flights without a spotter.

If I'm filming I need someone to watch that Red Kite flying nearby. If I'm watching the drone when in tight environments I like someone watching the shot I'm getting.
It's ignorant to assume watching the screen alone is enough, unless you genuinely live in a place with wide open skies and no activity from birds or aircraft... In which case I envy you =\
 
Last edited:
Joined
Dec 1, 2017
Messages
407
Likes
246
Location
UK/South Africa
#11
It's ignorant to assume watching the screen alone is enough
Well said. The P4P+ screen is exceptionally bright and sharp, but it’s still limited by size (which would need to be laptop size to begin to see sufficient detail.....and even then there would be limits). My wife is very intelligent, with a brain seriously switched on to exact detail and excellence. And her eyesight is still very good, aided by Nikon binoculars at distance. Additionally, there are so many benefits when two brains work together as one team.
 

BigAl07

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 5, 2015
Messages
5,730
Likes
4,179
Age
48
Location
Western North Carolina
#12
It's ignorant to assume watching the screen alone is enough...
And it's FAR from "enough"

Well said. The P4P+ screen is exceptionally bright and sharp, but it’s still limited by size (which would need to be laptop size to begin to see sufficient detail.....and even then there would be limits).
It's much more than "Screen Size". The FOV of the aircraft camera is minimal when compared to what you can do with your head on a swivel. The aircraft can't see anything but what is within the front most FOV. What about aircraft coming from behind, beside, above . . . . That's why the FAA (currently only stipulated for Commercial Ops) require the RPIC to have eyes on the aircraft and only allow a VO to assume that action for moments so the RPIC can glance at the screen for telemetry etc.

If your head/face is glued down into the screen fixated on framing that perfect shot who/what is watching the aircraft, the sky, and everything else going on around the flight?
 
Joined
Dec 1, 2017
Messages
407
Likes
246
Location
UK/South Africa
#13
Excellent stuff.

There are two reasons why I think this forum is so good. First, the emphasis on safety - which cannot be stressed enough as the paramount consideration. Second, an overall emphasis on learning and improvement.
 
Likes: BigAl07
Joined
Dec 1, 2017
Messages
407
Likes
246
Location
UK/South Africa
#14
There are many ways you can be taken by surprise, especially if your focus is directed away from where “the surprise” is coming from.

Our overnight rain stopped about 07.15am. As the day went on, the clouds partly broke to some sunny intervals. About 3.25pm this afternoon, a wall of snow suddenly came out of nowhere. There was less than 30 seconds between seeing a bit of sunshine and blue sky through the clouds and a white out. The snow blizzard continued for almost an hour, turning the mountainsides white.

We had our backs to the wind and didn’t see the low black cloud bearing snow until it was almost on us. The switch in weathers was almost instantaneous. We were on the plateau at 5,500ft. Thankfully, we got the drone down and packed away without any damage as it wasn’t too far away.

We’re used to extremes of weather, including rapid changes, but you can be surprised. And two people in a team packing up a drone work quicker than one.
 
Joined
Feb 8, 2018
Messages
114
Likes
52
Age
32
Location
Portland, OR
#15
I only fly recreationally, and normally fly alone. The one exception is when flying my FPV drone. It's not so much for safety as it is to keep me from losing the thing. It becomes really easy to get disoriented when flying with goggles and forget where the AC is in relation to you. Often when flying with someone else and and it crashes (because that's inevitable with FPV :D), I have to ask what direction it went down in. Or, one person will be the pilot while the other retrieves the crashes. However, I did discover I can kind of use my goggles as a makeshift radar detector. I hold the goggles at my chest and point the antenna outward. I then spin around slowly while looking at the screen. The signal will always be strongest when they're pointing towards the AC.
 
Joined
Jul 2, 2017
Messages
98
Likes
67
Age
58
#16
I almost always fly/film with my wife/colleague as a spotter. She is brilliant in so many ways.

Two brains and pairs of eyes are definitely better than one. I concentrate on the controls and framing the best composition, usually looking at the screen’s live video feed. She diligently watches that the drone isn’t about to fly into a mountainside, tree top, or bush, usually using binoculars - as well as checking that anything crucial is being done as planned.

The system works very well. We haven’t crashed - and the nearest we’ve come to disaster is once when I was having to work the drone alone. It’s the filming which ultimately matters, which is where the most concentration must be focused. We don’t fly as a hobby.

What about others? Spotter? Or no spotter?
If I'm flying FPV racers at low altitude and high speed, yes, spotters are a good thing. But at altitude with a camera drone, I don't use a spotter.
 
Joined
Jul 26, 2018
Messages
11
Likes
1
Age
45
#17
I ALWAYS use a spotter when capture images is the main objective (fly around flights some times I don't).

This it's the only way to assure a safe flight and try to capture good footage.
 
Joined
Jul 26, 2018
Messages
11
Likes
1
Age
45
#18
If possible I do. I think I've only logged a few flights without a spotter.

If I'm filming I need someone to watch that Red Kite flying nearby. If I'm watching the drone when in tight environments I like someone watching the shot getting.
It's ignorant to assume watching the screen alone is enough, unless you genuinely live in a place with wide open skies and no activity from birds or aircraft... In which case I envy you =\
Moon?
 
Joined
Apr 21, 2018
Messages
9
Likes
0
Age
31
#20
Yeah most of the time they take off and go fairly straight heaters off the runway, this person did an immediate left turn after taking off, and had a fairly low AoA. When I first saw the aircraft it was at about the same height as the drone. Although the aircraft was probably at the 450-500 foot mark as it passed over our mavic, I had my friend bring it way down just to be safe.
 
Last edited:

New Threads

Forum statistics

Threads
130,319
Messages
1,352,372
Members
94,995
Latest member
werei