A date with the Mayor
Updated: Oct 8
As part of his "amazing Tamworth" campaign we recently invited the mayor of Tamworth, Councillor Richard Kingstone to accompany us on a photo shoot of Tamworth
It was a cold frosty December morning. I had invited Tamworth's Mayor to participate in his very own photoshoot of the town he serves so well after noticing he had started a competition entitled "amazing Tamworth" asking us locals to submit our best shots of our wonderful little town.
I thought he may like join us on his very own photoshoot taking some wonderful pictures and video of the town from a brand new perspective using state of the art drone technology. Coincidently we had just taken delivery of our brand new Dji inspire 2 drone so this was the perfect test.
Getting permission of the local council proved a challenge in itself, as per the drone code and our pfco we needed permission of the land owner. Due to the nature of this shoot we had identified the castle grounds as the perfect central location to operate as it is situated on the edge of the town centre and the main town landmarks were within visual line of sight which is important to stay within the drone regulations. Tamworth council required public liability insurance for £5 million, a risk assessment, flight plan and copies of our permissions etc as well as a formal application via their public events department.
As the castle grounds is popular with the public we chose an early start on a Sunday morning during the winter months as the ideal time to fly. We also had to factor in from a risk assessment point of view amongst several factors (including local birds - there are 2 rivers that meet here) distraction from curious members of the public so after looking at various options we decided the best take off and landing area would be the castle tower itself as not only would provide a safe area would also give us unrivalled views of the drone at all times plus our subject landmarks.
Unfortunately following liaison with various council departments we became aware that the tower was completely closed to public and even staff due to renovation works therefore they reluctantly declined this permission. Ankerside shopping centre to the rescue!!! They were extremely helpful however threw another risk factor in... the lower floors were being used to hold a car boot sale at this exact time! We were allocated the roof level but on arrival there were already some vehicles parked so had to cone of a whole area and display our warning signs at all entrances to the carpark and top floor.
Mr Mayor arrived on time and we started off with an introduction to drones (I was surprised he didn't know much about them) . We explained the various regulations and the difference between a hobbyist flyer and a PfCO holder, explained all the pre flight planning that we had done. We went through a safety briefing that brought him and his assistant under our control. We had "spotters" at key locations including the castle itself, a mobile spotter in castle grounds and next to our pilot all in contact via loud speaker. These are essential for such an operation as can not only observe the drone but also any potential conflict with public, buildings, drones etc giving the pilot confidence in able to operate safely. (Our spotters recently helped prevent a potential mishap with a low flying paraglider on another shoot so are essential).
In our flight plans we had identified the church and town hall as some of the landmarks we wanted to capture however as they are located in the centre of town these had proved tricky to get to whilst satisfying article 241 of the CAA Air navigation order. Whilst we as PfCO holders are technically allowed to overfly in congested areas we have to ensure we have mitigated against all risks. We had studied the town in great detail prior to the flight and identified a flight path that would follow the footprint of the largest buildings in town whilst being able to keep 50 metres distance and keep within visual sight.
There would be an instance or two where we would have to cross pedestrianised areas however the Sunday morning flight plus our roaming spotter were key factors here...however we didn't have to go anywhere near them in reality as we had underestimated the power of our 45mm lense on the inspire! It was incredible and were able to capture most landmarks from a single location whilst appearing closer than we were!
I believe Councillor Kingstone throughly enjoyed the experience as much as us and we look forward to supplying him images he can display in the town hall.
As a reminder, hobbyist flyers are not permitted to fly anywhere near town centres (150 meters from congested areas, and 1000 metres from crowds).