Monthly Archives

August 2016

BBC Casualty episode to show helicopter brought down by drone strike

By | Drones & UAV's | No Comments

Our recent blog topics have mainly been around safe legal drone operation and the avoidance of drone collisions with aircraft. So, it is quite fitting that this Saturday, the BBC are airing an episode of Casualty, where an air ambulance crashes onto the hospital after a collision with a drone.

In a Radio Times article published this week, the Casualty producers have been working on this story line with the Association of Air Ambulances for about seven months. For the programme makers, featuring a dramatic story of this nature requires huge sensitivity. Every accident featured in the show has happened for real.

In the episode, the story line features a child who has been given a drone as a birthday present. The air ambulance is returning to the A&E when the drone collides with the helicopter’s blade and causes it to crash.

Although this scenario has not happened in the UK before, it has occurred abroad and it is something the Air Ambulance Service is incredibly worried about. That’s why they proposed the idea to the Casualty story team.

We at Hovershotz share this concern and praise the BBC’s Casualty programme makers’ decision to include a story-line involving a drone colliding with a helicopter. The story highlights the dangers of drones being flown by people without proper knowledge of ‘how to’ and ‘where to’ fly a drone.  Anything that raises an issue of drone safety and in turn makes our skies safer is a good thing.

If drones are flown by people without prior safety training then it could be an accident waiting to happen.  Helicopters are especially at risk because they are less stable than planes and operate at low altitudes in airspace used by drones.

And it’s not just children without prior drone safety knowledge that could cause an accident of this nature. there could be more illegal drone operators than legal operators. Illegal drone operators who undertake ‘aerial work’ and fly without Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) permission pose a danger too. There are many cowboys out there who buy a drone as a toy and lark around.

Illegal drone operators don’t go through the process of learning to fly their drone safely. Nor have they been assessed to ensure they can fly their drone competently. Additionally, illegal drone pilots do not have insurance for operating commercially. Just like if an uninsured driver hits an innocent person or vehicle – there is nobody to compensate for the injury or damage.

A drone operated by a professional CAA approved pilot, however, is safe.  Why?  Professional drone operators with CAA permissions are proficient pilots who do not take risks that could endanger the public or damage property.  Legal professional pilots adhere to a strict drone code and perform a series of checks and risk assessments before every flight to avoid accidents such as colliding with a helicopter. They know not to fly their drone above congested areas or near a helipad or airport.

The Dangers of Hiring an Unlicenced Illegal Drone Operator Plus an Interesting Supporting Video

By | UK Drone Legalities | No Comments

The UK commercial drone industry has almost reached a crisis point.  In the UK, there is an ever increasing number of illegal drone pilots who are working for commercial gain who think they are above the law. It is a criminal offence to fly a drone for work without permission from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).  Illegal drone pilots also typically fly without insurance indemnity meaning that if they crash their drone into your vehicle, property or worse you – there is nobody to pay for the damage. It is also illegal to hire the services of an unlicenced drone pilot – you, the client can be prosecuted and any photographs or film footage taken by an illegal operator will be seized. We know of at least one filmmaker who had to reshoot all his aerial scenes again after the footage shot by an illegal operator was seized.

Before Hiring a drone operator, you the client need to check that they hold a CAA Permission for Aerial Work (PFAW) and see their insurance. We at Hovershotz carry copies with us at all times. You can also check drone operators who hold a current PFAW at CAA PFAW List We are listed as Hovershots Ltd (Hovershotz parent company).

Also Hovershotz PFAW & Insurances have been vetted by The Drone Safe Register. Hovershotz would highly recommend for peace of mind that you hire an operator approved and listed by the Drone Safe Register (it’s probably the easiest way of hiring a legal operator).

Please watch the short and informative clip below.

Hovershotz Aerial Photography Filming and Surveys


The Importance of Checking NOTAM’s- Idiot Helicopter Pilot Ruins Red Arrows Display

By | UK Drone Legalities | No Comments

An idiotic helicopter pilot ruined a Red Arrows display when he inadvertently flew into their airspace when he failed to check for NOTAM’s (Notice to Airmen). Had that been a drone, then I’m sure that this story would be headline news, with the public demanding all drones be banned. Checking NOTAM’s is one of the many preflight checks Hovershotz carry out each and every time before we fly.

Andrew Kane, 62, pleaded guilty to flying his Gazelle helicopter above the world-famous aerobatic team on 8 May 2016.

The Red Arrows had been preparing for the finale to their 20-minute routine at Old Warden aerodrome, Bedfordshire, when Kane flew into their airspace.  Although the Red Arrows managed to avoid a mid-air collision, they were forced to call off the display, to the disappointment of the thousands of spectators watching from the ground.

A Youtube video of the incident shows the helicopter flying close to the speeding jets. The announcer is heard saying, “He’s now ruined the display for the pilots in their first performance this year and all of you wonderful people here in the sunshine at Shuttleworth.”

Following the delay, the Red Arrows did manage to complete their display.

Kane, from Leighton Buzzard, was later fined £2,500 at Luton Magistrate’s Court, having been found guilty of inadequate preparation for his flight. When passing sentence, the Chair of the Bench described the offence as extremely serious.

DJI Wind 1 All Weather Drone, Perfect for the Wet & Windy Lake District Weather in Cumbria

By | Drones & UAV's | No Comments

Hovershotz may have found the latest edition to our fleet of drones – the DJI Wind 1. This could be the perfect drone for flying in the English Lake District, an  all-weather drone. We believe it’s capable of flying in high winds and even rain? If true this will give hovershotz the advantage over our rivals and enable us to operate in all weathers, when our competition are grounded. We’re still unsure how the lens keeps free of rain drops, but perhaps it has a mini wind screen wiper for the lens.

Hovershotz understands that this is a one off production run by DJI for Dutch DJI dealer Custom Drone and is most probably destined to be used by the Dutch emergency services.



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Fitted with 4 powerful DJI motors and twin batteries, power and flight time could be quite impressive.

The DJI Wind 1 seems to be based on the DJI Matrice 1.

This will have the same camera options as DJI’s Inspire and Matrices, so it will complement the current drones that Hovershotz operate.

Depending on the camera layout and battery type used, flight times can be up to 31 minutes with either a Zenmuse X3, Z3 or XT making it outlast the DJI Phantom 4 and DJI Inspire 1 by quite a few minutes.

The DJI Wind 1 can achieve these flight times thanks to the use of 2 batteries during flight, which are either the TB47D’s or TB48D’s. It features a Max take-off weight of 6000g with the body coming in at 4040g with TB47D batteries, giving it a max payload of 1960g.


This new drone will be capable of flexible use, this is a clearly a drone for industrial use. Ideal for Hovershotz.




Due to its ability to fly in heavy wind and rain, the design for the DJI Wind 1 is very similar to the Matrice 100 and has a very rigid build consisting of carbon tubes, a square central box to house all the electronics and rainproof customised E1200 motors. With a total wingspan of 740mm, it is just a bit bigger than the Matrice 100 which has a wingspan of 650mm.

Hovershotz explores some the applications in which drones (UAVs) are used in the Lake District & Cumbria

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This week Hovershotz explores the amazing applications in which drones (UAVs) are used. Commercial drone usage spans so many different business types and industry sectors. When it comes to drone technology we’ll see the possibilities are truly endless!


Hovershotz thought it would be good to take stock of the positive ways drones are helping to improve the way we do business or even just solve an everyday problem that perhaps, until the advent of drones, was unimaginable.


Drones are entering a new era. The driving force behind drone technology is increasing efficiency, increasing safety and doing so at lower costs. According to Goldman Sachs research, the global commercial drone industry is set to evolve into a $100 billion market by 2020. Right before our very eyes drones are game changing just about every business and industry sector.


We hear a lot of negative press associated with drones from near misses with manned aircraft to drones being flown over Big Ben – all it takes is just one reckless person to flout the UK’s aviation rules and the drone industry’s reputation takes a leap backwards. Drones in the wrong hands are clearly bad news, yet for all the bad press there are some very positive stories making their mark out there!




Perhaps gaining the most press coverage in today’s headlines is the prospect of drones being used to deliver our shopping. Drones have the potential to revolutionise the way we shop and have our goods delivered. Amazon wants to deliver packages via drone within 30 minutes of you clicking “buy” on its site. If this does take off, then this could change the future of retail and impact so many aspects of the shopping process including where businesses locate their storage and delivery premises. In July 2016, Amazon announced that it would partner with the British Government to test small delivery drones – a UK first. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has granted Amazon permission to conduct feasibility tests so it will be interesting to see the direction this ambition takes! Here’s what Jeremy Clarkson has to say about Amazon Prime’s plans for the future:

You could say DHL pipped Amazon to the post. Back in 2013, DHL flew its maiden flight and delivered its first parcel to a small German island. ‘Parcelcopter’ drone operated by DHL will be used to deliver pharmaceuticals in what the company says to be the first commercial delivery of goods in Europe via unmanned aircraft.



Drones are perfectly suited to aerial inspections. Bridges, listed buildings, construction sites, solar farms, wind turbines all require drone inspections




Drones and innovations in UAV technology are helping to save lives all around the world.  Iin Cumbria, UK, drones are being trialled by the Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team to search the Lake District fells for missing people and save lives. Using drones to capture footage on difficult terrain and hard to reach areas, such as mountains, rivers and woodland, allows the rescue team to gain vital information quickly, safely and respond effectively at an incident.






Drones are transforming the way emergency services and first response teams operate by not only helping emergency teams make faster, smarter and better informed decisions, but also by providing first responders with more detailed information from an aerial perspective. The technology is easy to deploy and can be used in dangerous situations without risking pilots’ lives. This ultimately saves lives and property.  DJI’s video sums up well how drones are making an amazing difference to fire fighters in Branford, Connecticut, USA.




Here in the UK, police forces around the country are using drones to aid criminal investigations. Earlier in the year, The Times reported that more than a quarter of the 43 forces in England and Wales are considering introducing the UAVs following a successful test period.


Sussex and Surrey forces use a drone with a camera to patrol the perimeter of Gatwick airport for suspicious activity. The forces received a £250,000 grant from the Police Innovation Fund to buy additional SkyRanger drones. They now have five drones – more than any other force in the country.


This training video by Sussex Police provides a good visual sense of what kind of aerial night footage can be gained from launching a drone rather than a police helicopter.

Police forces in Cumbria, Devon, Cornwall and Dorset are also testing the use of drones for missing people searches and the photographing of crime scenes.




All around the world drones are helping scientists to boldly go to places that are inaccessible or too inhospitable for humans to collect data.


None more so than explorer Sam Cossman’s science expedition whose volcano mission success was crucial to drone usage. Last year drone pilots and scientists converged on Marum Crater, an active volcano in Vanuatu. The team used camera-mounted drones to capture high-definition images of the spectacular yet dangerous volcano. The scientists battled toxic gases and boiling lava whilst exploring the 7.5-mile-wide (12-kilometer) caldera. We are happy to learn that all the team survived the expedition but unfortunately two drones succumbed to the harsh environment. The exploration team was able to bring back video and photos that will help scientists learn more about the volcano and the life around it. A mission made possible only by the use of drones!




One of the world’s greatest challenges is preserving our environment for future generations while sustaining a growing global population. The key to combining greater agricultural yields with sustainable farming practices is efficiency. Drones are set to game change farming and agriculture more than any other industry and sector. This is all set to happen through precision agriculture. DJI’s Feeding the World video below helps explain how methods based on aerial systems like the DJI Matrice 100 paired with the Zenmuse XT thermal camera can help improve crop health and productivity:




Drones are having huge positive effects in animal conservation and habitat protection. UAV’s are helping especially in wildlife monitoring, geographic mapping and environmental law enforcement.  UAV’s provide researchers with a unique ‘bird’s eye’ view of their subjects, enabling them to count individuals easily and determine the population’s size.  Drones can help keep tabs on migration patterns and assess the species’ overall health. They also help keep poachers away!



UK law states that anyone who wants to fly a drone for commercial work (referred to as ‘commercial operation’) must have permission from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).


Therefore if you require a drone for whatever reason; whether it is for a wedding, film, TV, aerial inspection, search and rescue or just a simple aerial image it is a legal requirement to ensure that you hire a professional drone pilot who has the correct professional credentials.


Whether you are a private individual, TV production company, estate agent, council, farmer, business owner, broadcaster, government organisation, scientist, emergency service; Hovershotz are qualified and insured drone operator.

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Hovershotz feature and are interviewed live on BBC Radio Cumbria to talk about legal commercial drone operation

By | Aerial Photography in Cumbria, Media | No Comments

BBC Radio Cumbria today did a piece about safe legal drone operation and flying in the UK. This was prompted by a recent near miss involving a drone and an airliner. The purpose of the program was to inform the general public that there are rules & laws in place governing drone use for hobby drone flyers. To complement their radio piece, they required an interview a professional CAA licenced drone operator to explain what the current UK legislation is surrounding flying drones (both commercially & private use) and  and they selected Hovershotz.

They also wanted to simultaneously stream live video footage during the radio interview direct to the Facebook page from Carlisle Castle. Hovershotz were delighted to oblige.



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Drones UAV’s Vs Traditional Helicopters or Aircraft for Aerial Filming, Videography & Photography Lake District Cumbria

By | Aerial Photography Filming & Surveys | No Comments

Drones (UAV’s, unamanned aerial vehicles) Versus Traditional Helicopters or Aircraft for Aerial Filming, Cinematography, Videography & Photography

Traditionally the Helicopter was king for aerial filming and photography, used regularly by filmmakers in Hollywood & worldwide, producing some breath-taking footage. Now there’s a new upstart on the block – the ‘drone’ or more correctly an unmanned aerial vehicle mounted with a cinema quality camera (other names include UAV, UAS, Helicam, Multirotor, Quadcopter, Hexacopter, Octacopter plus many more). But which one tops the other, here we take a brief look at the pro’s and cons of each platform?

Modern drones are very versatile. There are many different uses for drones that include: aerial photography, filming, building inspections & surveys, thermal imaging, search and rescue . Not only is the drone are impacting on the filming world, but many other applications that previously carried out by cameras carried by helicopter, aircraft, gyrocopter or gyro plane.


Pricing- Hiring a professional Drone crew is an extremely cost effective solution for aerial filming, and compared to dealing with any Helicopter for aerial videography, hiring a drone crew will feel like a bargain. The cheapest price to hire an aerial filming helicopter crew that Hovershotz are aware of is £1150 for the first hour, then £950 per hour (this is for a camera system that films in the same quality as our Lumix GH4 mounted to a DJI S900 drone). A full day rate is typically £5,000 to film by helicopter – nearly 10 times the cost of hiring a 2 man drone crew (pilot & camera operator).

Versatility- For obvious reasons Helicopters are incapable of getting into places that drones can. Places that are close to the ground, through trees and near structures. This will pose an obvious danger to a pilot of a helicopter. Drones are also more flexible and quicker to deploy.

Closeness – A drone is able to get much closer to the subject being filmed or photographed. The downdraft created by a helicopter would play havoc with any film set if it got too close.

Reshoots- These are made simple with a drone, as the director will usually watch live via a monitor what the drone camera is filming, so there is never really a problem with getting the shot wrong. However with a Helicopter it will be a different story. Communication between director and camera operator is restricted and each new take can take considerably more time.

Indoors – Drones are ideal for filming from height indoors, something a helicopter is incapable of.

Refuelling- There are many factors to consider when using a helicopter. Any filming over a couple of hours will require a refuel. You will also need to consider the locations. Is it off road? Is it close to a landing zone? With a Drone you only need to do one thing, change batteries (Hovershotz always carry multiple batteries and we can recharge them in the field – which means we can keep flying & most importantly continue filming) .

Environmental Impact – A drone is far more environmentally friendly than any helicopter, microlight, gyro plane/copter . This is both true for the environmental impact in the construction of any of these aircraft and also how eco friendly a drone is compared to any helicopter/gyroplane/gyrocopter/aeroplane/microlight in operation.



Higher Altitudes- If you need to film over large areas? Then a Helicopter is probably the better option to capture panoramic shots of large cities, terrain or events. Legally (in the the UK) drones are limited to 400 feet and even with a wide angle lens, a drone is currently unlikely to match footage captured from a higher altitude.

Filming Moving Vehicles- There’s pros & cons for filming vehicles either by drone or from a helicopter. A drone can get up close (particularly in a challenging environment such as an urban setting for woodlands). Where the chopper gains an advantage is for following vehicles at speed (Hovershotz fastest drone can only reach 50 mph). Helicopters can also show cars on a track, course or long winding road.

Distance- For commercial drone operation in the UK ,the distance is currently limited to 500 metres horizontally from the pilot by law (although exceptions to fly further can be applied for). A helicopter can fly much greater distances, to the point of running out of fuel or cameras running out of battery life.


Drones have completely changed the face of film making from the air and at height, particularly for films, TV programs, commercials or internet adverts with  lower budgets. The affordability & availability of the growing number drone filming crews has made aerial filming accessible to a greater number of filmmakers.  To completely dismiss helicopters would be premature, as they still have their place in film making. So in conclusion; for close intimate filming on a budget (particularly in an area inaccessible to helicopter), then the drone is undoubtedly the best choice. For shoots that require filming from altitude or chasing fast moving vehicles over distance, then the helicopter is still the probably the better choice (although as drone technology improves and legislation changes to keep up, this may not always be the case).

Hovershotz aerial photography video & inspections are the leading commercial filming drone operators in Cumbria, Lancashire  and the Lake District in the North West of England UK.

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Safe Civilian Drone or UAV Operation within the Lake District and the RAF Low Flying Area 17 (LFA 17) Cumbria

By | Aerial Photography Filming & Surveys in the Lake District. | No Comments

Most of the Lake District is used by the RAF for operational low flying training; this includes trainers, rotary wing (helicopters) to fast jets. The Lake District is designated by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) as LFA17 (Low Flying Area 17). The most common aircraft we encounter are the Tucano trainer, whilst these are slow they don’t have radar either. Fast jets are of most concern to responsible commercial drone operators who need to operate safely in the Lakes, as fast Jets (Eurofighter Typhoons, F35 lightnings, Tornado’s etc) can fly as low as 250 feet (even lower over open water), which brings them into the same airspace as drones (which can legally fly up to 400 feet amsl). Helicopters (Chinooks, Apache, Wildcat, Lynx etc) can operate even lower, as low as 100 feet (and sometimes even lower). Over water, such as lakes, there is no minimum height limit. An added concern would be a drone or UAV taking off from a hill or mountain top could theoretically be flying above a military aircraft flying through a Cumbrian Lake District Valley.

LFA 17 includes Cumbria, East North Yorkshire, and North Lancashire. Army Field Training Centres at Catterick and Warcop, along with The QinetiQ firing range facilities at Eskmeals in the west of the Lake District are situated within it. It has approximately 4,347 sq miles of airspace available for low flying training. The Lake District terrain in LFA17 is ideal in terms of flying training practice, particularly for fast jet aircrew as the area is relatively free from large urban areas. The speed limit differs for each particular aircraft but 500 knots is typical.

Over the available parts of the low fly areas no restrictions apply in the choice of routings except for certain mountain valleys which are flowed one way and narrow gaps between obstructions are also made directional.

An RAF fast jet travelling up a Lake District valley at 500 knots is unlikely to see a civilian drone particularly a hobby drone such as the DJI Phantom (which we regularly see hobbyists flying and filming in the Lake District)which weighs just over a kilogram and if the aircraft were to strike it, it’s unlikely it’s going to cause it any serious damage (the likelihood is, it will just bounce off the aircraft whilst at the same time destroying the drone). However, if the aircraft were to ingest the drone into its engine then the lithium polymer battery has the potential to cause an engine fire. The greatest risk would be if a commercial drone operator were to be flying in LFA17 with a substantial drone (such as a fully laden DJI S1000 with a 22,000mah LIPO (lithium polymer battery) – this would weigh around 16kg and in the event of a collision could bring down an aircraft (the battery would undoubtedly cause a serious engine fire if ingested). Thankfully commercial drone operation in the UK is regulated by the CAA and any licenced operator should have safe processes and procedures to prevent any contact with the any aircraft (including the military). There is some concern however to the unregulated users of hobby drones, who seem to fly them all over the Lake District with very little concern for safety.

Safety is the number one concern of Hovershotz and we have processes & procedures in place to ensure that we never come into contact with any military activity. These procedures include (but are not limited to), checking the military timetables for LFA17, advising the MOD (via their hotline) of Hovershotz activities within area LFA17 (so they could either advise us if we should not fly or inform their pilots of where we will be and at what times), we check for any NOTAMS (notice to airmen) listed, we also employ spotters to watch out for any aircraft (particularly fast jets) and should there be any potential incursion into the airspace where one of our drones are operating, we have an emergency procedure which Hovershotz can invoke. I suspect the military like to buzz drones whilst they are on manoeuvres, as we regular spot fighters at some distance who make a return low level pass dipping their wings as if to tell us they could have shot down our drones (I’m guessing the radar signature of a DJI Inspire 1 is similar to a stealth fighter, so probably for the RAF it’s good training).

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