How Far Can You See it!

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Most countries require you to be Visual Line Of Sight (VLOS) at all times. I'm interested in how far you can go and still see it. I've done a short test here and find it's about 2000-3000ft ( around a 1/2 mile) under optimum conditions . . and there is not much there to see at 3000 that's for sure. I posted a short description about how it was done here

Anyone else, like to add their own experience for a broader sample . .Thanks

 
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Your experience seems about what I get, closer to 2000 reliably. Low light is a different story, the boo lights make. It easy to spot.
 
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Does visual line of sight mean you can actually see the drone or simply have an unobstructed view of the airspace the drone occupies?


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Most of the time I don't fly under optimum conditions. I have had my P3 disappear below the clouds by blending right in at maybe 800'. Then last week it blended into the hillside in this video in the high desert at 980' out. We couldn't believe it just disappeared so quickly, not even 1000' out, and we could hear it just fine! But it couldn't be seen until I took it up above the hill. Then to test our sight, I took it back down in front of the hill and it was gone again. The sun was 90° out and casting shadows on the hill, but we still had a blast. 2500' is my comfortable max and that's optimum with the sun behind me and not straining my eyes.
 
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That's very similar to my experience. I can hear the bird out farther than I can reliably see it. My 55 year old eyes don't do as well as they used to.


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If its overcast forget about seeing it from any sort of distance IMO once you take your eye off it, its gone because its white it blends in. I know DJI made a select number of black phantoms but I feel like they should all been black, would of helped a lot under overcast conditions.
 
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I usually have a spotter with me. It's easier to track if you don't look away from it. Makes the whole process so much more relaxed when the camera isn't aligned with direction of flight.
 
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I find 400 metres (1300 feet for the metrically challenged :) ) is about the limit on a good day. I often have to use my ears to help locate it at that distance if I've been staring down at the screen too long.

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Wait till you fly the Mavic. Smaller, narrow profile, quieter and painted in F22 Stealth colours. Its really silly. I am getting orange decals to help spot it. On a positive note, no one approaches me any more since the drone looks like a cheapy and the controller cannot be seen.

DJI should look into painting their drone fluro orange like the Austel X. If they want it to look classy, then paint the belly black and the sides and top bright white. This will stop it from merging into the skies at higher altitudes, and merging into trees at terrain level.
 
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Wait till you fly the Mavic. Smaller, narrow profile, quieter and painted in F22 Stealth colours. Its really silly. I am getting orange decals to help spot it. On a positive note, no one approaches me any more since the drone looks like a cheapy and the controller cannot be seen.

DJI should look into painting their drone fluro orange like the Austel X. If they want it to look classy, then paint the belly black and the sides and top bright white. This will stop it from merging into the skies at higher altitudes, and merging into trees at terrain level.
Just can't wait to fly the MAV . . supposed to arrive here Tuesday . . . meanwhile I dream!

Thanks for all the feedback guys . . very helpful.
There's more testing on visibility, posted on my website . . here's some links
Distance Visibility Test
Trying Strobe lights
Working BEYOND Line of Sight . . legally . .
 
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On a sunny day against a blue sky, the P4 is very visible to me as a sharp white dot at 2000 feet (600 meters). But, I have to wear reading glasses to see the DJI Go screen clearly on my iPad. My arms aren't long enough :)
 
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With the incredible technology of FPV with either phone, tablet, or goggles, I see the LOS requirement unrealistic to enforce and fundamentally antiquated. But I still keep my P4 within 500' so I can see it and fly within the regulations. Laws are always years behind technology.
 
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Having now been observed by a genuine FAA Inspector while flying, I can say you should probably be within about 1200 feet of the aircraft on a nice day. It is certainly allowed to look away momentarily or even lose a direct LOS momentarily as long as you can re-acquire the sight of the aircraft and its surroundings very quickly (or you have a visual observer in direct communication with you).

Just chiming-in here...YES, there is a set of criteria for what comprises VLOS. While not very well defined for hobbyists/recreation, it is well laid out in Part 107.

§ 107.31 Visual line of sight aircraft operation. [my bold letters shown]

(a) With vision that is unaided by any device other than corrective lenses, the remote pilot in command, the visual observer (if one is used), and the person manipulating the flight control of the small unmanned aircraft system must be able to see the unmanned aircraft throughout the entire flight in order to:
(1) Know the unmanned aircraft’s location;
(2) Determine the unmanned aircraft’s attitude, altitude, and direction of flight;
(3) Observe the airspace for other air traffic or hazards; and
(4) Determine that the unmanned aircraft does not endanger the life or property of another.

(b) Throughout the entire flight of the small unmanned aircraft, the ability described in subsection (a) of this section must be exercised by either:
(1) The remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls of the small unmanned aircraft system; or
(2) A visual observer.

Seems to make sense to me.
 
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Having now been observed by a genuine FAA Inspector while flying, I can say you should probably be within about 1200 feet of the aircraft on a nice day. It is certainly allowed to look away momentarily or even lose a direct LOS momentarily as long as you can re-acquire the sight of the aircraft and its surroundings very quickly (or you have a visual observer in direct communication with you).

Just chiming-in here...YES, there is a set of criteria for what comprises VLOS. While not very well defined for hobbyists/recreation, it is well laid out in Part 107.

§ 107.31 Visual line of sight aircraft operation. [my bold letters shown]

(a) With vision that is unaided by any device other than corrective lenses, the remote pilot in command, the visual observer (if one is used), and the person manipulating the flight control of the small unmanned aircraft system must be able to see the unmanned aircraft throughout the entire flight in order to:
(1) Know the unmanned aircraft’s location;
(2) Determine the unmanned aircraft’s attitude, altitude, and direction of flight;
(3) Observe the airspace for other air traffic or hazards; and
(4) Determine that the unmanned aircraft does not endanger the life or property of another.

(b) Throughout the entire flight of the small unmanned aircraft, the ability described in subsection (a) of this section must be exercised by either:
(1) The remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls of the small unmanned aircraft system; or
(2) A visual observer.

Seems to make sense to me.
Hi Phil . . . great summary . . . FAA and Transport Canada have similar views and here's how to accommodate those regs to the letter . . . I've managed a mile or more with my P4 and MavicPRo with one of these
and some useful . . and legal procedures I'm also testing on some BRIGHTER Strobes for full sun/bright sky work. . . but this one will works out to 1mile or more for 8hrs+ on a single charge.
 

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