Posted on June 22, 2013
My first late blog post :(. Yesterday, I got home later than any of the other students, ate, talked to my wife and crashed out. I woke up at 2:30 in the morning and realized that I hadn’t blogged and couldn’t get up and do it, so here I am, a day late blogging, that means I’ll have to do it again tonight.
Anyway, yesterday was crazy. I was a bit overwhelmed and got a little disgruntled at one point, but after the fact, I’m left really stoked. I showed up to the field and Iam was there with his X8 waiting for me, and immediately asked me for a flight plan, so I got busy designing a flight plan for the right side of the valley since last time I worked with him we imaged the left side. The mission I designed worked pretty well until the last turn where we turned towards the cliff and Iam decided that was no good so he aborted the flight. I definitely understood, but was a little disappointed that all of my flight plans to date had to be aborted near the end. So, after that flight was done, it was on me to get the images from the flight and properly record the flight info and catalog the images. Then I had to create another flight plan for the next flight. This time I designed the flight to turn away from the cliffs, fixed some of the altitudes of our waypoints and I checked it with Iam and he approved. The flight was 10 miles long with the UAV traveling 2 miles into the canyon and back out a number of times. By the time we got to take off, almost everyone had left the field, it was 4 PM and there weren’t many options for someone to launch the plane. I had the plane in hand already as I was checking the cameras, so I got to throw it. My heart was racing, I had already watched someone way more experienced than me throw their plane into the ground, then there’s the chance of cutting your hand or arm on the prop as it flies over your shoulder, so yeah, I was nervous and excited. I threw the plane and it headed towards the ground and skimmed the grass by about a foot, then it took off and went on it’s way to following my flight plan. I was so relieved, it was a really close call. The flight plan worked beautifully, all my turns were away from the cliffs, my altitudes were right, it all worked. On our last leg of the flight, we were about a mile away from landing and we had horses and ATVs in front of us and rain approaching from the ocean, I started to worry that we were going to have to abort again, but just in time the horses left, the ATVs drove off and we landed just as it started raining. I ran to the field to get the plane as I watched sheets of rain approaching and got to cover just in time. We finally flew a whole flight plan, all 20 waypoints, all 10 miles, it was AWESOME!
I spent the whole day in the field, managing UAV flights and data, it was a lot and a bit overwhelming and super awesome. I feel so fortunate to have met Iam, he’s a Hawaiian Airlines captain flying the Airbus A330 and he’s got a few homemade UAVs. He was a really cool guy that was very collaborative and helpful. He put a lot of trust in me, even though I wasn’t experienced, he put his plane and equipment in my hands (literally) and we worked together to complete the missions. The experience working with him was truly something I won’t forget and has been one of the best things about this trip. I’m looking forward to keeping in touch with him.
After we said our goodbyes, I took an opportunity to grab a panorama of the valley: