Drones Above Arizona Lakes

Winter 2016
Battery Emergency A Bend in the River Spring 2016
  Arizona Lakes Fall 2017

January 21st, 2016

On a day near (I hope) the end of Winter here, a few hours of bright sunlight made a trip to the lake enjoyable. Even on a three-day holiday weekend, there was almost no one else there! In two or three miles of coastline, there were three lonely camper vans parked, and none of their occupants in sight. Perfect. I put the drones up three times to be sure I captured the scene.

Of course, those who have seen the many YouTube videos of drones going down know that putting them out over large bodies of water carries risk.

Wyatt Earp once said, "Fast is fine, but accurate is final."

In the world of drones, "Soaring is fine, but splashing is final."

All ended well, I brought them right back to my two launching spots along the shore.
Hope you enjoy the view!

More lakes in Nevada!

Battery Emergency

On a lovely day, I took the Inspire Pro with the X5 (narrower-angle) lens for a very quick flight over the lake. Not 40 seconds into the flight, as I was preparing to confirm focus and exposure, the drone's Ipad screen declared a 'battery emergency-aircraft is landing' message.

Since I was aming to fly out over the lake, I quickly turned the drone toward land, looked for a landmark and hit the throttle to get away from falling into the water.

The drone lost altitude, but made it farther than I expected. At the last moment I tried to lift it over the bushes.

In fact, those friendly bushes cushioned the fall, and when we eventually found the drone a week later it was virtually undamaged--everything worked!

I searched for days along the flight path I thought it had followed (the second image shows the area I searched--from the coast to the left-hand end of the mesa), but under estimated how far the drone had traveled.

Finally, I gave up yesterday and went to the drone store. "didn't you know?" they said. "DJI just brought out an app for that." When the app came up on my screen, it showed the entire track of the flight, and the precise point where we soon found the drone.

My friend Jose of the store staff took a selfie I'll add shortly. Meanwhile, take a look at the map provided by the app. What a powerful tool!! (for the FAA to know if you have been naughty)...

By the way, a powerful wind and rain storm hit the day after we rescued the drone. It would have soaked and destroyed the drone's control systems...

1SearchArea 2SearchAreaWithFinalRestingPlace 3FlightRecordTrackingProgram Bonelli Bay

A Bend in the River April 4th, 2016

On a day with almost perfect conditions, I found a bend in the river where kayakers, scuba divers and speedboat fans were all indulging in early-season activity. It's April 2nd, just at the early moments of our warm weather. After a long cool winter, this is welcome!

You can make out the small scuba class just off the beach at the beginning of the second video.

The parking lots were nearly empty, but you can imagine how this spot would be in mid-Summer.

Today there were the early-season hardy fans scuba diving, swimming and paddling kayaks for miles.

And me, watching from the sky...

Soaring Above The Lakes May 3rd, 2016

On another spectacular day, I drove over to Arizona and wound my way across miles of desert to these two sites.

These places are sufficiently remote that on any day we may see not another soul or another vehicle.

Rivers and lakes carve the state in creative ways, surrounding us with peaks and valleys which set the lakes like gems in colossal desert scenery.

Fall 2017

More Action Than I Bargained For At The Lake!

It was supposed to be a quiet little practice session in a lovely setting. Amid the tortuous coastline of the lake and its Byzantine waterways, I put the drone up and enjoyed the scenery you see in the videos.

As you also see, this is open desert, with minimalist roads. What you don’t see is that between the hard tracks, the rest is deep, treacherous sand. Woe betide those who stray off the hard-packed track.

You see where this is going.

As I drove up the hard track from my launch point, a truck appeared, struggling up the hill. I pulled over to let it pass, and went off the track.

As the truck and its occupants proceeded to their camp site, I tried to turn around on the side track, and suddenly found the wheels merely spinning, digging inexorably down toward China. Uh-oh. My 4-wheel drive didn’t help—all four wheels spun helplessly, throwing up great clouds of fine sand.

The nice couple from the truck came over and tried to put rocks and boards under my tires. Ricky said he had been stuck very close to this spot two weeks ago.

I called AAA. They were very nice, but their tow service turned me down. “Our trucks get stuck out there,” they said.

Tension mounted. I called two more tow services. Both turned me down. A fourth said that they had a special truck for my area, but the tow would cost $500. What to do? Die out here, or pay to get out? An easy decision.

After more than an hour, no tow truck. As I began to wonder where my guardian angels were hiding, a white pickup truck came up to me. It wasn’t the tow truck—it was a Salvadoran family, and Juan, the father, was a whiz at handling vehicles.

Instead of driving off to their own beach, they stopped and worked a miracle. It took a half hour, but he maneuvered his truck near my car, attached a chain and strap from his truck to cover perhaps 50 feet, and had me and the whole family (wife, son and daughter) push.

After a few experiments, Juan’s truck pulled the Toyota out and up onto solid ground. the five-hero effort got the car loose and onto solid ground.

To top it off, when I called the tow company to cancel their truck, they said, “Oh, we haven’t dispatched the truck yet, so we won’t charge you the $500.”

To celebrate this amazing story, there were only six people within a mile of where I was, and every one of them came to help.

Guardian angels are everywhere, and I hope these good-hearted people have wonderful lives. They deserve the kind of luck they delivered to me.
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