10 Reasons why Fireworks & Drones Don’t MIX

Remember, Remember the 5th of November, Gun powder, treason & 10 Reasons why Fireworks & Drones Don’t MIX !

10 Reasons why Fireworks & Drones Don't MIX

UAV’s vs Fireworks

It may be one of the most photogenic times of the year, but here are 10 reasons why Fireworks & Drones don’t mix. Much going on, large beautiful explosions, enthralled faces, everything an enthused photographer is looking to capture.

What could be better than to launch your UAV drone into the night sky to get close up and personal with that cacophony of colour and capture what only brave (or deaf) birds can see right? Well, maybe not.

One thing is for sure, Ikopta will NOT be launching this Fireworks season. Here’s our 10 Reasons why Fireworks & Drones Don’t MIX !

Already this explosive season has seen two DJI Phantom’s rising into the night sky at a local fireworks display. I think that had the operators had stopped to think they would have reconsidered how potential dangerous Fireworks & Drones are, they would think twice.

The Rules on Fireworks & Drones.

All professional UAV or drone operators know and live by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rules.

Tip 1

In the UK  a UAV or drone must not be flown above 400ft (120m). This is because manned aviation has a lower limit of 500ft (unless landing). So when you hear the guy at the controls shouting “hey look, 200m and its still going!” Chances are, they do not know what they are doing.

Tip 2

Most PFCO (permission for Commercial Operations), like this one (PFCO), allow you to fly 30 mins before sunrise and 30mins after sunset. With sunset at 16:15 in most of the UK on November 5th, if the local display is after 16:45, then you are flying illegally.

Tip 3

CAA does not allow you to fly over, or with in 150m of a organised open air event of more than 1000 people. Last time I went to a firework display they were expensive to run & want as many people as possible to attend. If you factor the first rule of UAV club, 150m is above your permitted flight height of 120m!

Tip 4

Even if there were less than 1000 people at the display, and it’s a really early show, maybe for people scared of the dark, the CAA do not allow flights over or within 50m of people or property you do not have control of. Have you tried to herd cats? There is no way you would be able to convince the authorities you have control over excited strangers, at an open air event.

Tip 5

You have to keep line of sight at all times (LOS). Yeah, right, its dark, there are hundreds of bright, colourful flashes going off as you hover your drone through the melee, add the thunderous explosions, and heart stopping bangs, there is no way you can but your hand on heart & tell me you will be able to keep line of sight at all times, and be able to concentrate on the task in hand? It bad enough on a bright day at 120m up with no distractions!

Tip 6

Have you got permission from the landowner and event organiser? If you don’t you, as in all of the above, are flying illegally, which not only invalidates your insurance, it could invalidate the organisers insurance as well in the event of a claim. Its boring, but a good risk assessment & method statement of how you are going to operate will be required.

Tip 7

Remember people its dark, with random, fast flashes of light. What can you capture that can’t be seen better from the ground? You should also consider the flare damage to you camera equipment if nothing else. How are you going to see other hazards in the air? Power line, link fences etc.


Tip 8

“Its fine, how are they going to catch me!” Famous last words when you consider the reason we fly is to show the world whats up there, we can’t help help ourselves. A simple search of Youtube, will show you what I mean, do you really think that regulatory agencies do not look at Youtube? In my mind, if you can’t show it off, what’s the point of shooting it?

Tip 9

Finally, INSURANCE. If you are flying a UAV/drone with-out public liability insurance, whether for fun or as a business, then there has to be something missing from your Self Preservation Senses. Quadcopters etc are not called flying blenders for nothing, just a quick look at this popular video will show you that (Blades video). Forget the cost of the equipment, the damage they can do, hitting people or property can be horrific.

Tip 10

Are the Above 9 not enough?

So stay safe, and leave the UAV or drone at home this fireworks season. Chances are, unless you have had your craft ok’d by the CAA for night-flying, you are instrument rated, and you have amended PFAW for the event, you will be flying illegally, and that will invalidate your insurance, if you have it. If you don’t have insurance, try these guys Coverdrone (there are other providers, shop around, but get yourself insured!!).

Down Load the CAA Guidance Here. Really usefully, and could stop you getting a heavy fine.

Fly safe! Remember, if you need Aerial works in the UK, give me a call at ikopta.