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Cautionary tale about flying in a nature preserve!

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Nighthawk5112, Aug 27, 2016.

  1. Nighthawk5112

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    Today I took my Phantom 3A to Lowthorpe Meadow, a nature area near where I live. It is a natural wild meadow area set aside for the public to enjoy. As the name would suggest, it is a large meadow that has walking trails mowed through it. It features a small pond, some swampy areas and is surrounded by tall trees.

    WhIle I was setting up on the far edge of the meadow I noticed a few buzzards riding the thermals about 500 feet up, along with a hawk or two soaring at about 200' or so. I didn't pay much attention to them and went about my business.

    When I began flying, I took the quad up about 10' and did a short, 100' circuit just to make sure everything was working well. With everything checked out, I took it up to about 15' and began exploring. I flew over the swamp for a few minutes and then made a beeline for the far edge of the meadow. Stopping just before treeline, I took it up above the trees (about 75') and began a slow return.

    About 1/4th the way back, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that one of the hawks had decended to about 100'. He was a long way off, on the right edge of the meadow, but I could tell he was taking an interest in the quad and was headed towards it. I felt uneasy and decided to speed up my return and lose altitude. Sure enough, by the time I was half way back, the hawk had closed the distance and was crisscrossing about 30' above and behind the Phantom which was continuing to decend as quickly as I could make it.

    There was a dead tree between me and the quad, about 100' out and I headed for it. The hawk kept dropping and made a tight circle behind the drone. Luckily, the drone had dropped enough to get under the lowest branches of the tree by the time I reached it so I skimmed the tall weeds and brush under it while the hawk skimmed the top branches. If top speed for the Phantom 3 is 35 mph, I was doing 36!

    Past the tree, the terrain rose, so I had to gain a little altitude as I brought it back to me, then I pushed up hard on the right stick to stop it (There were trees right behind me.) After the hawk cleared the tree, he swooped down towards the drone but then pulled up again and landed in a tree behind me. He watched as I hand landed my Phantom and shut it down, but he didn't leave. I decided that I wasn't going to tempt fate again and began to pack it in and leave. The dang Hawk watched me the whole time. He was still perched there when I left!

    All the way home, I wondered if I had gotten any video of the hawk's attack, so when I got home, I checked, just to find that I'd never hit "record"! I just had the most exciting flight since owning my Phantom and I have no record of it!

    I know I've seen at least one video on Youtube of a hawk attacking a drone but I don't know how common it is. I don't know if he was hunting or if he was just trying to drive a competitor out of his territory. All I know is that Lowthorpe Meadow is prime habitat for hawks and I won't be flying there anymore!

    Please be careful, y'all!
     
  2. jeganx

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    Eagles are Phantoms natural enemies... If you use a composite propeller, you probably get to see some blood there. Lol.
     
  3. Mark The Droner

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    I've had hawks come somewhat close to my phantom a number of times. They were definitely checking it out, but they have never attacked or anything. They just kinda swoop real fast around and down and across and that's it.
     
  4. Nighthawk5112

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    Maybe that's all he was doing but I wasn't going to take any chances. He was definitely more than just a little interested in it, but it seems to me now that if he really wanted it, he could have gotten it.
     
  5. kennedye

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    Ah yes, forgetting to hit record; I've had several flights now where I'm all "oooo that looked great on the screen, I can't wait to see it later in 4K!" only to discover the **** thing's been off the whole time.
     
  6. Dansoerensen

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    Use litchi. It has auto record.


    Sent from my iPhone using PhantomPilots
     
  7. Pharm

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    I've had one hawk fly about 15 feet below me as I was leaving the area (at 396 ft). Only saw him on the video once. Never saw him again.
     
  8. Nighthawk5112

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    Yeah, I probably wouldn't have gotten much (if any) video of the hawk since I was flying back while facing forward and the bird was mostly tailing the quad, but it still would have been a neat video. Oh well.