I bought a drone. Because I am this close to becoming the next Jimmy Chin, Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman documenting the “Long Way Round“, or the next Itchy Boots. All that’s been holding me back is the ability to capture that epic footage, dude. And the drone is going to catapult me into fame. I’m sure of it. I just have to figure out how to fly the thing.
When it arrived, it was raining and windy. And then again the next day. And then a day of other commitments. Finally the weather was reasonable and I had the afternoon free. I announced that I was going to go for a motorcycle ride to test the drone. Mrs Troutdog, who’s far smarter than me, helpfully offered some advice. “Why would you do that? Go to the park first and learn how to fly it.” Sigh, women. They just don’t get it sometimes.
I’d watched some YouTube videos on flying it. I come from a highly technical background. Go to a park. Please. You cannot get epic footage at a park. So, I spent at least two hours figuring out how to attach the drone’s case to the motorcycle and getting wires and chargers and batteries all loaded up into the tank bag. Off I went to launch my film career.
About 45 minutes later I arrived at my planned destination in the backcountry. No cell service. No people. Just beautiful backcountry trails in the mountains alongside a flowing river. How perfect will this be! I could already see the footage I was going to capture. I unpacked the drone, the controller, and drone’s beacon.
Power on the drone, turn on the beacon, and… “STANDBY, GPS SYNCING”. I waited. And waited. And the drone timed out and powered off. The beacon, no longer connected to the drone, stopped the sync process. WTF? Power on the drone again and repeat the process. Same result. And again. And again. I finally noticed a message that said, “Pair beacon with app for faster sync”. Ok. I loaded up the app and looked for a way to pair with the beacon. Nothing. I tried to pair with the beacon via the phone’s Bluetooth connection. Nothing. Since there was no cell service in the backcountry, I had no way of looking anything up or downloading the manual.
An hour later I had to admit defeat. The drone wasn’t going to fly that day. I had to pack everything up, make the long ride home, and admit to Mrs Troutdog she was right all along. I should have just gone to the park. Sigh.
The next day it rained. We then had a three-day trip. When we returned, it rained again. FINALLY, we had a day of no rain. It was time to be humble and go to the park. I knew the perfect place, right near the house. I drove over and pulled all my gear out and got set up. I decided I should look at the FAA’s app that gives you flight authorization for your drone. And… you’re not allowed to fly at that park because it’s too close to the hospital. OMG.
I packed everything up and drove to a nearby school. There were approximately 1,000 little kids running around on the fields at what looked like a summer camp. I drove and drove and drove, until I finally found a large park without people. I checked the app and got clearance to fly.
Long story short, the drone is amazing. The technology in these things is hard to believe. And I honestly don’t think I could have figured it out standing on the side of the trail in the woods that first time. It certainly took some trial and error in a very large open space to start to get the hang of things. So, I suppose it was a blessing in disguise.
The moral of the story? I’m not sure. The trials, tribulations, and errors I went through probably taught me more about the drone and flying than if everything had gone perfectly the first time. Life and learning is a process. Embrace it. Laugh at it. The path forward is rarely a straight line.
Also, real men don’t read manuals.