Finding a legal CAA approved drone operator in Cumbria & the Lake District

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If you searching for aerial photography or a drone operator in Cumbria then, beware of ‘drone directories’ that don’t do their checks…..

Almost each month we see a new drone directory pop up. Hovershotz are listed in most drone directories but we are concerned that some are listing illegal pilots.

Sadly, it has become evident that many drone directory websites are not doing their commercial drone pilot checks thoroughly.

On closer inspection, it is evident that many drone directories have pilots listed with out of date, invalid paperwork or non-existent paperwork checks.

Why is this important?  When it comes to aviation safety – cutting corners is unsafe and unacceptable.  The UK’s aviation safety standards are set high to avoid accidents.

Hovershotz are aware of a ‘drone hire directory’ that doesn’t even ask for CAA certification from their pilots listed.  That means that anybody who wishes can ‘say’ they are CAA approved (even though they are not) and then be promoted as a legal drone operator.

Here’s what one drone directory said when asked whether they check for CAA Approval (PFCO) :

We don’t require a copy of your PFCO,  but every listing agrees to terms of use of the site which states information supplied to us is correct, we also carry out random checks against CAA register.


If you require aerial drone photography video or surveys in Cumbria Lancashire or the Lake District, don’t get caught out by hiring an illegal operator.  If things go wrong you’ll find that your drone operator is not insured.  A drone in the hands of an illegal operator is an accident waiting to happen.

Ensuring your drone pilot is legal

By law anybody operating their drone commercially i.e. charging for the service MUST have permission from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and hold valid commercial insurance.

When hiring a drone operator always ask for a copy of the pilots CAA approval (PFCO) and commercial drone insurance. If in doubt, Hovershotz would recommend that you find an operator listed on Drone Safe Register, where all operators are checked to ensure they are legal and hold a current PFCO and valid insurance

Hovershotz aerial drone photography video and inspections listing can be found here

New York television award for drone cameramen from Kendal

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

TWO Kendal men provided aerial footage with drone-mounted cameras for an award-winning television show pilot shot in the Lake District.

Andy Wills  teamed up with graduates National Film and Television School to help film for their reality television pilot ‘Against All Odds’.

The episode, which was shot at prime beauty spots such as Helvellyn, Cautley Spout and Ullswater, has now been recognised at the New York Television Festival’s Independent Pilot Competition.

‘Against All Odds’ was the only UK-produced entry to the competition, which came out on top in the ‘best unscripted pilot/alternative project’ category.

“It’s a great bit of kudos,” said Mr Wills, of Windermere Road who runs Hovershotz Aerial Drone Photography & Video Cumbria.

“I’m not too sure if the drone footage contributed too much but I’m sure it must have helped.”

In Against All Odds, five ordinary strangers each choose one of five locked bags – four contain blank paper and one contains £100,000 in cash. Over three days, the team must carry their bags on an epic journey across some of the UK’s toughest natural landscapes in the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales for the chance to split the money at the finish line.

Mr Handley, who owns Skylark Photography and lives near Old Hutton, added: “Andy and I were approached to provide aerial coverage to capture the contestants in areas where the standard film crew were not able to get.

“It was absolutely brilliant. It was a lot of fun and it was the biggest film crew I’ve ever been involved with.”

After the success at the New York Television Festival, Mr Handley added he hoped the pilot would be taken on by a broadcaster.

“It could be that somebody now picks it up and and takes it on to make a television show out of it,” he said. “If Andy and I are lucky enough, we may get commissioned to help produce a series of this.”

To see a trailer of ‘Against All Odds’, visit

Hovershotz aerial drone photography Cumbria

Aerial drone filming Lake District

Demolition & Blasting Videography by Drone

By | Aerial Photography Filming & Surveys | No Comments

Drones are a great platform for aerial videography!

Until recently, it’s been rather impractical to take high-speed video footage of a demolition blast from the air, its been almost impossible to position a camera at just the right height and distance to film an Ultra High Definition video of the moment that explosives ignite. Modern drones can be placed in such locations to gather spectacularly compelling images.

Traditional surface shot footage just doesn’t have the same drama and feels dated and old fashioned. Hovershotz can fly around a structure as it is being demolished giving the whole experience even more dynamism as the video plays out and the structure collapses. We can put several drones in the air to capture the action from many aerial positions as well as deploying cameras on the ground to capture traditional perspectives. Sometimes we will even deploy a few ‘sacrificial’ cameras really close up in an attempt to get far too close!

Hovershotz are able to film aerial drone photographs and video of building demolitions across Cumbria, Lancashire, the Lake District, Yorkshire and beyond.

Chimney demolition photograph by drone Yorkshire

Chimney demolition photograph by drone Yorkshire

Building demolition photograph by drone Yorkshire

Building demolition photograph by drone Yorkshire. Image created from video footage.

Drone footage of tower demolition

Moment of ignition captured by drone from above

Explosion photograph captured by drone Yorkshire

Moment of ignition captured by drone side angle

Legal CAA PFCO Drone Hire & Operator Cumbria & Lake District

A warning to Cumbria businesses contemplating hiring a drone operator in 2018

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A warning to Cumbria businesses contemplating hiring a drone operator in 2018.

Recently, we have seen more drones taking to our skies than ever before.

Drones are helping businesses save time, money and provide creative images and video…

In 2018 more houses & business premises will be aerial photographed by drone. More properties will be surveyed & inspected by drone; more land will be mapped and surveyed.  More films and TV programs will utilise aerial drone filming.

The benefits that drones are already bringing to the Cumbria’s economy are impressive.   Drone usage is expanding into new markets rapidly.  The costs for aerial filming and photography have dramatically in recent years.

But…….Herein lays the problem…

The UK is overrun with illegal drone operators

By law anybody operating their drone commercially i.e. charging for the service or using it for their own business purposes MUST have permission from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and hold valid commercial insurance.


This law is blatantly and knowingly being flouted by irresponsible and unsafe illegal drone operators.

It is though that there may be more illegal drone pilots operating in the UK than legal pilots.  Sadly, these illegal drone pilots know exactly what they are doing is illegal, BUT are still charging companies for aerial ‘work’.

It’s relatively simple to tell if an aerial footage clip is illegal.  Airing illegal footage will instantly discredit your production.  It tells your customers / viewers, that your company, is not concerned about drone safety.

As a business, if you hire a non CAA approved drone operator, you are putting your company’s reputation at risk. If things go wrong, you could also (along with the offending illegal pilot)  be held liable for the property damage or personal injury. Footage could be seized by the Police and you may both face joint prosecution.

When hiring a drone pilot ALWAYS ask for a valid copy of the pilot’s CAA Permission for Commercial Operation (PFCO) and commercial insurance documents. 

Keep copies of each document on file.

If you are a business that hires drone operators, please help keep the Cumbria’s airspace safe by hiring a legal pilot.

Here at Hovershotz, our CAA PFCO drone pilots have undergone training and have been assessed to ensure their drone piloting competency skills comply with the UK’s aviation rules and regulations. These Civil Aviation Authority, rules are there to keep the public safe from harm and property from damage.  A drone in the wrong hands can cause serious damage or injury.  Drones can fly at speeds in excess of 60 mph and weigh in excess of 15kg kg.  They can fly (illegally) over 7 km away from the pilot or if the pilot loses contact fly away into aircraft flight paths. Don’t leave your business open to legal action and make sure you’re covered when you hire a drone pilot. Hovershotz ensure all aerial drone photography in Cumbria that we conduct is safe and legal.


There are many businesses across the North West of England (Cumbria, the Lake District & Lancashire) that are simply unaware of the law of the laws governing commercial use of drones.  Hovershotz have repeatedly heard from businesses who felt let down, as they had paid ‘good money’ to have the aerial job done correctly and not by a cowboy! Many businesses buy their own drone for their own work (such as estate agents doing their own aerial property photography) not realising that they too need CAA permission.

There is a growing trend in online videos posed on Facebook or YouTube showing illegal drone pilots operating dangerously close to the public and flying dangerously above the safe flying altitude limit. There are internet groups who search out these illegal clips and report them to the Police (self proclaimed drone police). Thankfully, Cumbria Police are now starting to take the public safety posed by these unsafe drone operators seriously and are starting to prosecute them and those companies hiring them.

Aerial photography Cumbria

Despite what an illegal drone operator may tell you, You can’t just operate a drone anywhere. All CAA PFCO approved operators fly their drones at set distances; away from people, property, vehicles, vessels and ‘no fly zones’, gain landowners permission (particularly in the Lake District from organisations such as the National Trust or Lake District National Park).  As a matter of course, all legal commercial drone pilots seek CAA authorisation to fly in any controlled airspace.  Commercial drone pilots will also, when required, employ additional ground staff / observers to ensure every flight is safe and legal.

When HIRING a drone operator in Cumbria …..Be safe NOT sorry!  ALWAYS check your pilot’s paperwork.  Hire a CAA approved drone pilot NOT a cowboy.

against all odds tv game show pilot lake district drone hovershotz


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

Against All Odds, TV pilot reality game show. Aerial drone filming shot by Hovershotz Aerial Drone Photography and Filming (assisted by Skylark Aerial Photography), using DJI Inspire 1 Professional drone with Zenmuse X5 camera in 4K. Hovershotz were thrilled to hear that this won ‘Best Unscripted Pilot/ Alternative Project’ at this year’s New York Television Festival’s (NYTVF) and Hovershotz are proud to have provided the aerial drone filming. Shot on location across Cumbria, The Lake District and North Yorkshire (locations included – Cautley Spout (England’s highest water fall, Helvellyn, Swirral Edge, Striding Edge, Ullswater). Filmed in conjunction with the National Film and Television School (NFTS).

Most of this involved hiking across the Lake District terrain with the drones in backpacks, following the contestants. Prior to filming, Hovershotz scouted some of the locations.

Hovershotz Aerial Drone Photography Video & Inspections Cumbria

Watch the trailer

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Stock Drone Footage of the Lake District from Hovershotz

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Stock aerial drone footage shot by Hovershotz is now available on Drone Safe Stock Register. Drone Safe Stock Register is the UK’s largest film and video stock site that is dedicated to aerial drone footage. Most of Hovershotz aerial drone videos and films are of the Lake District in Cumbria.

Drone Stock Register can be accessed at

Hovershotz Aerial Drone Photography Video & Inspections Cumbria.

Hovershotz aerial drone photography Cumbria help Father Christmas use drones to help deliver presents to children. Santa Drone. Lake District

Hovershotz Aerial Drone Photography Cumbria wish all our friends and customers a very merry Christmas

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Hovershotz Aerial Drone Photography Videos & Inspections Cumbria would like to wish all our friends & clients a very merry Christmas and trust you have a prosperous New Year.

Hovershotz will be busy on Christmas Eve, helping Santa in the UK deliver presents by piloting Father Christmas’s new national drone delivery fleet across the North West of England (Lancashire, Cumbria & the Lake District). 🎄🎅🎁

Testing Rinicom Sky Patriot drone detection system. Hovershotz piloting the drone Morecambe bay lancashire

Hovershotz piloting drone to test Rinicom Sky Patriot drone detection system

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Hovershotz were selected to pilot a drone, to test the Rinicom Sky Patriot drone detection system. This was a very complex job that involved flying the drone very accurately though some extremely complicated vectors where the speed and height were critical. We flew a variety of different drones of size and weight, across Morecambe Bay Lancashire up to a distance of one kilometre (Hovershotz being one of the few professional drone operators who hold EVLOS – extended visual line of sight).

Hovershotz aerial drone photography video & inspections Cumbria, professional freelance pilot & drone service.

New powers for UK police to address illegal and unsafe use of drones

By | UK Drone Legalities | No Comments

It frustrates us here at Hovershotz, the amount of cowboys and unsafe drone flyers who are jepodising the UK drone flying community and professional operators.  Now at long last the UK government and the CAA are introducing new legislation that will give Police more powers to tackle unsafe or illegal use of drones. We witness on a weekly basis all sorts of irresponsible and illegal activities with drones across Cumbria Lancashire and the Lake District. Also, You-tube is full of videos from irresponsible drone owners who are proud of their dangerous and illegal activities.

These measures are aimed to allow accountable drone users & operators to continue flying safely and legally, helping to place the United Kingdom at the forefront of the fast-growing drone industry. This will also lead the way for the UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicles) & SUAS (small unmanned aerial systems) to be channelled for a range of uses by businesses and public services.

The draft Drone Bill, which the Government will be publishing in early 2018, will give Police officers the right to order drone operators to ground their drones where deemed necessary. Enforcement officers will also be able to seize drones and ancillary equipment to prove it has been used to commit an offence.

It will become mandatory for drone owners to register themselves and their equipment to ensure accountability . All drone pilots/operators will be required to use specific apps – so they can use the information required to make sure any planned flight can be made safely and legally.

The banning drones from flying in close proximity to airports or above 400 feet should also form part of the new regulations.

The UK Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg is quoted as:

Drones have great potential and we want to do everything possible to harness the benefits of this technology as it develops.

But if we are to realise the full potential of this incredibly exciting technology, we have to take steps to stop illegal use of these devices and address safety and privacy concerns.

These new laws strike a balance, to allow the vast majority of drone users to continue flying safely and responsibly, while also paving the way for drone technology to revolutionise businesses and public services.

In addition the government will publish the draft Drone Bill for consultation and introduce secondary legislation amendments in spring 2018. Changes to the Air Navigation Order  (ANO) will mean that that:

  • all drone users will have to sit and pass safety awareness tests
  • users of drones weighing over 250 grams and will in future have to be registered

The government is also working closely with drone manufacturers such as DJI & Yuneec to use geo-fencing to prevent drones from entering restricted zones.

The Flying High Challenge, funded by the government and run by Nesta in partnership with Innovate UK, is set to launch tomorrow (Monday, 27 November) when cities will be invited to register their interest.

National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Criminal Misuse of Drones, Assistant Chief Constable Serena Kennedy said:

Police forces are aware of the ever increasing use of drones by members of the public and we are working with all relevant partners to understand the threats that this new technology can pose when used irresponsibly or illegally. Do not take this lightly – if you use a drone to invade people’s privacy or engage in disruptive behaviour, you could face serious criminal charges.

Police officers will use all available powers to investigate reports of criminal misuse of drones and seek the appropriate penalty. Make sure you know the rules for using a drone because it is always your responsibility to ensure that you are acting within the law and in line with the Civil Aviation Authority’s Drone Code.

Tim Johnson, Policy Director at the CAA said:

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) supports the safe development of drones in the UK. Drones can bring economic and workplace safety benefits but to achieve those we need everyone flying a drone now to do so safely. We welcome plans to increase drone operator training, safety awareness and the creation of no-fly zones.

We have been working with Government and the aviation and drone industries to educate drone operators by successfully promoting the Dronecode , which provides an easy to follow guide to UK drone rules.

The process to report any illegal drone activity is to phone the Police on 101 and report the transgression.

It’s also worth pointing out that aerial photography and filming from drones could be covered by data protection and CCTV legislation read more here


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Hovershotz move website to HTTPS secure SSL server

By | UK Drone Legalities, Uncategorised | No Comments

In preparation for some significant upgrades and enhancements to our website, Hovershotz aerial photography video and inspections Cumbria, have migrated our website to a secure SSL server and implemented a https version of our site. This will be necessary when we implement a live booking system and a stock image and video shop to allow clients to purchase stock footage directly from our website. Quite simply, all data on our website is encrypted, protecting our clients data.

We have chosen to implement SLL now, due to the fact that our contact form requires customers to enter data and with the introduction of by Google of Chrome 62 in October 2017, it will be mandatory to implement HTPPS  for our contact form to avoid falling foul new requirements, which would have resulted in our old http site showing up as not secure.

One unexpected benefit, is our website is significantly faster since implementing SSL, which enriches our visitors web experience while using our site.

The move went without hitch but it may take some time for Google to reindex our new HTTPS pages.

Hovershotz aerial drone photography filming in the Lake District Cumbria