Monthly Archives

July 2018

How to avoid issues with your drone and low flying military aircraft RAF & MOD in the Lake District

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How to avoid issues with your drone and low flying military aircraft RAF & MOD in the Lake District

The Lake District in Cumbria is a designated low flying area LFA17, flying last low as 250 ft over land and even lower over water.. The Lake District is also a World Heritage site of outstanding natural beauty and a magnet for drone photographers wishing to film. Both can happily coexist if a few rules are followed.

  • Firstly follow the drone code Please note that the 400ft limit could bring drones and military jets into the same airspace, so additional measures need to be adopted to maintain separation.
  • Check the UK military low flying timetables – Please note that these are only a guide and the jets don’t follow this timetable to the exact minute and are often delayed for various reasons.
  • Inform MOD low level advisory service of any UAV flight by contacting them on 0800 515544 email at least 4 hours (preferably the day before) before any proposed drone flight giving them full details of your flight including location and height etc.
  • Use the drone assist app (assuming you can get a mobile signal as the Lake District is notorious for lack of mobile signal) to alert all airspace users as to your activity
  • Always be aware that fast jets approach very quickly and you will see them long before you hear them. Ideally have an observer or spotter with you to observe the sky and alert you to any danger.
  • Always plan what you will do if you see a fastjet and what actions you will take to avoid any collision so that you are prepared (usually this is to decrease the drones altitude as quickly as possible, assuming this can be done safely.
RAF UK military freephone number 0800 515544

Let’s share the air safely. By phoning this number you can notify UK military aviation of your drone activity which can help maintain separation in the air. Flying a drone? Call the low flying booking cell on 0800 515544

Low level advisory service
Telephone: 0800 515544

Low flying information for England, Wales and Scotland
Telephone: 01780 417558
Monday to Friday, 8:00am to 4:00pm

UK CAA reminds drone operators of new rules from July 30th 2018 – CAP1687

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n the UK the Civil Aviation Authority has issued guidance that all model aircraft/drone operators should read. At the end of this month 400′ is a hard ceiling for model/RPA operations and

CAP1687: Air Navigation (Amendment) Order 2018 -Guidance for small unmanned aircraft users

On 30 May 2018, the United Kingdom Government published an amendment to the UK Air Navigation Order 2016 (ANO) which contains its changes to the legislation regarding the operation of small
unmanned aircraft.

The amendment is published as Statutory Instrument (SI) 2018 No. 623, entitled ‘The Air Navigation (Amendment) Order 2018’. This can be found at: Some articles (parts) of the amendment come into force on 30 July 2018, but others take a further 16 months, coming into force on 30 November 2019.

Effective from 30 July 2018

A 400 ft operating height limitation for all small unmanned aircraft
A new limitation on the closest distance that small unmanned aircraft weighing 7 kg or less may be flown near specific types of aerodrome

Changes to terminology with the introduction of the terms ‘remote pilot’ and ‘SUA operator’ in place of the previously-used term ‘person in charge’

Minor corrections to the ANO 2016 to provide clarification or to correct previous errors

Effective from 30 November 2019

A requirement for the registration of SUA operators
A requirement for the competency of remote pilots to be tested

This is the bit traditional model fliers will be interested in:-

Meaning of “remote pilot” and “SUA operator” 94G In this Order –

(a) the “remote pilot”, in relation to a small unmanned aircraft, is an individual who –
(i) operates the flight controls of the small unmanned aircraft by manual use of remote controls, or
(ii) when the small unmanned aircraft is flying automatically, monitors its course and is able to intervene and change its course by operating its flight controls,
(b) the “SUA operator”, in relation to a small unmanned aircraft, is the person who has the management of the small unmanned aircraft.
Small unmanned surveillance aircraft

95 (1) The SUA operator must not cause or permit a small unmanned surveillance aircraft to be flown in any of the circumstances described in paragraph (2), and the remote pilot of a small unmanned surveillance aircraft must not fly it in any of those circumstances, except in
accordance with a permission issued by the CAA.

(2) The circumstances referred to in paragraph (1) are –
(a) over or within 150 metres of any congested area;
(b) over or within 150 metres of an organised open-air assembly of more than 1,000 persons;
(c) within 50 metres of any vessel, vehicle or structure which is not under the control of the SUA operator or the remote pilot of the aircraft; or
(d) subject to paragraphs (3) and (4), within 50 metres of any person.
(3) Subject to paragraph (4), during take-off or landing, a small unmanned surveillance aircraft must not be flown within 30 metres of any person.
(4) Paragraphs (2)(d) and (3) do not apply to the remote pilot of the small unmanned surveillance aircraft or a person under the control of the remote pilot of the aircraft.
(5) In this article, “a small unmanned surveillance aircraft” means a small unmanned aircraft which is equipped to undertake any form of surveillance or data acquisition.

Hovershotz aerial drone photography filming & suverys Lake District Cumbria

Hovershotz Drone used to survey field with aerial photographs in search of scorch marks to reveal hidden archaeological site at Sellet Hall Cumbria

Parch marks identified by drone reveal hidden archaeological objects

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The recent sustained summer 2018 heatwave and dry spell across Cumbria & the Lake District is revealing hidden archaeological objects by tell tale scorch or parch marks, these can be identified with a survey by camera drone.

Some of these apparitions – called ‘crop marks’ or ‘parch marks’ – reflect sites previously known to archaeologists and historians, but many of the older outlines represent fresh discoveries, only made possible by the June and July 2018 long hot dry spell. An ideal way of identifying these is aerial filming by using a drone.

Hovershotz were commissioned to conduct an aerial survey of several acres of farm fields at Sellet Hall near Kirkby Lonsdale Cumbria to locate and identify a medieval chapel once thought to have existed locally. Using a DJI Inspire 2 drone equipped with Zenmuse X5S camera, a series of 4K videos were filmed along with 20 megapixel still images from a variety of altitudes. After reviewing the footage, the tell tale parch marks identified what is thought to be the outline of the chapel. The footage and images will be forwarded to archaeologists at Lancaster University to review with a view to conducting a Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) survey.


Haweswater Reservoir Lake District Aerial Filming by Drone

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The recent dry spell in summer 2018 has caused the water levels in Haweswater Reservoir to fall. An aerial filming piece which we filmed yesterday for a news channel., here is the drone video which we filmed on July 12th 2018 showing the low water levels.

Contrast this with a drone film we made on exactly the same date 12 months earlier on 12th July 2017, when we were there filming an advert.


Haweswater is a reservoir in the English Lake District, built in the valley of Mardale in the county of Cumbria. The controversial construction of the Haweswater dam started in 1929, after Parliament passed an Act giving the Manchester Corporation permission to build the reservoir to supply water for Manchester. The decision caused public outcry, since the farming villages of Measand and Mardale Green would be flooded, with their inhabitants needing to be relocated. Also, many desired to maintain the picturesque valley in its existing state.

Originally, Haweswater was a natural lake about four kilometres long, nearly divided by a tongue of land at Measand; the two reaches of the lake were known as High Water and Low Water. The building of the dam raised the water level by 29 metres (95 feet) and created a reservoir six kilometres (four miles) long and around 600 metres (almost half a mile) wide. The dam wall measures 470 metres long and 27.5 metres high; at the time of construction it was considered to be cutting-edge technology as it was the world’s first hollow buttress dam, using 44 separate buttressed units joined by flexible joints. A parapet, 1.4 metres (56 inches) wide, runs the length of the dam and from this, tunnelled supplies can be seen entering the reservoir from the adjoining valleys of Heltondale and Swindale. When the reservoir is full, it holds 84 billion litres (18.6 billion gallons) of water. The reservoir is now owned by United Utilities PLC. It supplies about 25% of the North West’s water supply.


Before the valley was flooded in 1935, all the farms and dwellings of the villages of Mardale Green and Measand were demolished, as well as the centuries-old Dun Bull Inn at Mardale Green. The village church was dismantled and the stone used in constructing the dam; all the bodies in the churchyard were exhumed and re-buried at Shap. Today, when the water in the reservoir is low, the remains of the submerged village of Mardale Green can still be seen, including stone walls and the village bridge.


Manchester Corporation built a new road along the eastern side of the lake to replace the flooded highway lower in the valley, and the Haweswater Hotel was constructed midway down the length of the reservoir as a replacement for the Dun Bull. The road continues to the western end of Haweswater, to a car park, a popular starting point for a path to the surrounding fells of Harter Fell, Branstree and High Street.


Lake District writer and fell walker Alfred Wainwright had this to say on the construction of the Haweswater Dam in A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells:


“If we can accept as absolutely necessary the conversion of Haweswater [to a reservoir], then it must be conceded that Manchester have done the job as unobtrusively as possible. Mardale is still a noble valley. But man works with such clumsy hands! Gone for ever are the quiet wooded bays and shingly shores that nature had fashioned so sweetly in the Haweswater of old; how aggressively ugly is the tidemark of the new Haweswater

Upgrading Hovershotz drone fleet in 2018

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Rest assured if you hire Hovershotz, we are the only drone operator in Cumbria & the Lake District operating the latest cinematic quality drones. We are constantly evaluating the latest drone technology to make sure we are able to offer our clients the best possible results.

It’s now four years since we introduced the DJI Inspire 1 to our fleet and this venerable old drone has served us well during this time but the fact is, in 2018 it no longer cuts the mustard and has been eclipsed by newer drones. Plus, the Inspire 1 has been discontinued by DJI and is no longer supported. After evaluating the latest drones, we selected the DJI Inspire 2 with X5s & X4s cameras as the first new drone to our fleet in 2018. This makes perfect sense, particularly as many of our clients are now specifying the Inspire 2 as their drone of choice.

We have now been operating the DJI Inspire 2 for over a month and it has been a total revelation and has simply blown us away with just how superior it is compared to our old legacy DJI Inspire 1 Pro with X5 camera (with the benefit of hindsight, we really wished we had upgraded last year when the I2 came out because it really is that much better). The image quality (both video and stills) is far far superior on the Inspire 2 with X5s compared with nour old Inspire 1.

The airframe of the Inspire 2 is far more robust, responsive and stable, which means we are able to capture more difficult shots and provide far better quality footage than we ever could we our old Inspire 1.

So, what are the major differences and benefits to clients?

  • Better camera – 50% more pixels and raw video, means far better quality footage for clients
  • Speed – The Inspire 2 can fly at up to 70 mph vs 40 mph from the Inspire 1, which means we can keep up with the action, particularly from sporting events
  • Longer flight times – our Inspire 2 can stay in the air for almost 30 minutes, where’as our old X5 equipped Inspire 1 could only manage 15 minutes between battery changes meaning we sometimes missed important shots
  • Redundancy – The Inspire 2 has twin batteries, two IMU’s, dual barometers, and dual compasses (as opposed to the old Inspire 1 which only has one of each), these means that the Inspire 2 is more safe to fly (just in case one system fails it can still fly) and makes it more accurate when in the air. This is a game changer when it comes to operating a drone over water such as a lake (one of the major weaknesses of the inspire one)
  • Two cameras – The Inspire two has an additional FPV (first person view camera) which enables the pilot to see what the drone sees and while the camera operator can control and see the main camera. This is a huge benefit when it comes to filming complex sequences for action films and sporting events
  • On board battery heaters – The Inspire 2 can fly safely in temperatures as low as -4C, whereas we were stuck with flying safely at 10C (even with an external battery warmer) with the Inspire 1 (due in part to it’s antiquated firmware and battery technology)
  • Additional flight modes – which enable a single operator complex tracking of objects that are just impossible with the antiquated Inspire 1 and would necessitate dual operators, with additional costs
  • Collision avoidance – the Inspire 2 has the ability not to crash into things, which the Inspire 1 doesn’t have – although this really doesn’t affect us as we usually operate in either atti or sport modes with the sensors switched off
  • Simultaneous panning and tilting of the camera – this allows Hovershotz to perform tasks with a single operator that crews operating the old Inspire One will require a pilot and seperate camera operator. This means Hovershotz can now offer the same results for lower costs.

We can offer filming with the Inspire 2 in the Lake District at a comparative cost to some economy drone operators still making do with the obsolete Inspire 1. If you are a film company, broadcasting company or any organisation looking for the best footage possible from a drone operating in Cumbria, Lancashire or the Lake District, then Hovershotz are your only choice.

We are currently evaluating a compact drone for internal filming and at the moment we are testing a DJI Mavic Pro and a Parrot Anafi and so far the Anafi gets the nod due to better camera quality, dramatically lower noise and a camera with 180-degree up down gimbal (meaning it can lup up as well as down). We will reserve final judgement until we have had a chance to test the DJI Marvic Pro 2 due to me launched in July 2018.

We are still evaluating an all weather inspection drone, although the DJI Matrice 210 is looking good as it can share cameras, batteries etc  with our Inspire 2.

Hovershotz aerial drone photography video and filming – the professional choice in the Lake District.



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With the exceptionally hot and dry weather this last week in the UK, the pressure is on the fire service to keep everyone safe – wildfires are popping up across the British Isles. Don’t make it unsafe for the men and women of our emergency services to work by flying drones anywhere nearby.

There are reports appearing of irresponsible pilots taking their drones out for an impromptu flight above wildfires across of the Cumbria & Lancashire. Hovershotz were contacted by a news crew asking if we were able to provide aerial drone filming of any of the wild fires currently raging across Winter Hill Lancashire, naturally we declined due to operating in close proximity of emergency services helicopters.


Lancashire Police have had to plea with the public through a Facebook post.


The last thing you want to see in this situation is a drone.

This BBC news wales article shows helicopters in action. (LINK)

Fly responsibly, fly safe, and most importantly, report any questionable drone activity you see near wildfires to the police immediately. There are also a number of drone Facebook groups who are checking Youtube for any drone footage obtained in an unsafe manner of the wild fires and are reporting these irresponsible drone operators to the police. 

Let the men and women of our emergency services work in as safe environment as possible.

Currently Cumbria Fire and Rescue are currently dealing with a number of wild grass fires across the Lake District at Aspatria, Broughton Beck, Carlisle, Cockermouth, Maryport, Millom, Silloth, Whitehaven & Workington in Cumbria.

Call us