A Guide to FPV Flying Spot Finding
Finding the perfect FPV flying spot can be a particularly strenuous task. It won’t be long before your boots grow a little too big for your local park and you begin to crave something more extraordinary than wide open skies. This FPV spot finding guide will sufficiently inform with a range of FPV flying spot locating techniques suitable for FPV pilots of any skill level.
A Note on Private Property and Respect
Before flying at any spot it is important to verify that the land you have chosen is not in fact private property. It is fundamental that each member of the FPV community behaves as a spokesperson for the hobby, as it is all to easy for a singular misguided individual to cause for an increase in regulation constriction. When you fly FPV, remember to be respectful of your surrounds by flying safely around both people and the physical environment.
No-Fly Zone and No Drone Zone Awareness
As multirotors become increasingly popular, laws and regulations grow ever stricter in response to the rapid influx of new FPV pilots that may be unaware of less apparent rules regarding for example, airport no-fly zones. Again, it is essential that you be completely mindful of local air traffic. Be sure to brush up on any laws regarding flying model aircraft in or nearby areas of high aviation activity.
It won’t be long before you realize that most significant limiter for FPV flying spot appropriateness are your fellow humans. Unfortunately, the reality of multirotor flying is that multiple unprotected rapidly spinning blades are not something you want to poke your finger into. It is an excellent idea to read up on the regulations set by your aviation authority before flying in areas of apparent foot-traffic.
What are the Best Times to Fly?
Generally, the best times to fly your drone are early in the morning, late in the evening or at night. Although, this is simply a general guideline and is not universally applicable to all locations. For example, a carpark in the late evening will most likely be far busier than the local park. If you can make it out to fly, public holidays are a perfect time to take advantage of many different spots that would otherwise be impossible to fly FPV at.
Typical FPV Flying Spots
Once you have completed your first build, you’ll quickly find that you won’t be able to get enough of FPV. Having a selection of reliable local FPV flying spots is essential if you want to be able to regularly get out and fly. Parks are abundant and often provide suitable flying locations. Other examples of possible flying locations include golf courses, school grounds and carparks. However, it is important that you obtain permission from the staff or owners before you attempt to fly at either of these types of locations.
Flyable Indoor Areas
If you reside within the Northern Hemisphere, you likely will appreciate access to a selection of indoor FPV flying spots during the winter. The most plentiful forms of indoor flying spaces are parking garages, if you live in an urban area, multi-storey car parks will surely be in ample supply. A parking garage is an excellent place to organise a night FPV race. Other fitting indoor FPV flying spots are indoor sport courts. These areas can usually be rented out by the public for a fee.
Google Maps, Google Earth and Street View
Google Earth and Google Maps are excellent tools for finding those secretive FPV flying spots that might only be a mere five minutes away from you. Getting your eyes in the sky is an excellent way to quickly detect potentially perfect flying spots. Searching with Google Maps is simple. Google Maps can be operated in browser or in app on a device of your selection. To alternatively search with Google earth, make your way over to the Google Earth website and download it on to a platform of your choice. Google Earth can also be operated within browser.
Google Maps can be used as a preliminary FPV flying spot seeking method prior to investigating with Google Earth. While exploring with Google Maps, inspect any green patches that you observe. A green patch designates an undeveloped area, this may be parkland, a golf course, a nature reserve or another variety of non-urbanised terrain. If any of these zones appear promising, switch over to Google Earth to ascertain the layout of the landscape.
Once Google Earth is open, input your location of choice and begin cruising overhead of your previously discovered green zones. Keep a lookout for those lucrative patches of bare ground, within minutes you should be able to compile a list of several different flying spots. Although, be sure to thoroughly check around a spot to ensure it is not in fact private property or otherwise unsuitable. Watch out for fences, power lines and bodies of water masquerading as dry land.
Finally, if a particular spot proves difficult to analyse from above, street view can often be used to gain a vantage point close to the ground. Street view allows the observer to deduce the suitability of a certain point based on factors such as tree density, grass height, slope of terrain and other factors that can not be determined from above.
Go for a Stroll
One of the most enjoyable FPV spot finding methods is as easy as going for a walk. If you live in an area abundant in walking tracks or hiking trails, get out there. Hiking off the beaten track is the perfect way to find those amazing proximity places that are undetectable on Google Earth or through other means. When you’re heading out to the sticks, do remember to bring extra water and food. Know your limits and be particularly cautious if you are walking alone. A small first aid kit is a worthy addition to your flying pack.
Exploring Abandoned Locations (“Bandos”)
There is no doubt that you have watched some of FPV’s best pilots flying their drones through vacant and run-down buildings. Abandoned locations usually make for absolutely amazing FPV flying spots for both racing and freestyle. Indoor features of an abandoned building can be harnessed as pre-built racing lines and a multi-level element permits for breathtaking freestyle. Although, these abandoned buildings will surely be testing of the durability of your FPV drone.
Although abandoned buildings do make great FPV flying spots, it is crucial that you exercise caution before flying at any vacant place. If there are any signs warning of asbestos contamination, do not approach. Abandoned buildings, particularly those in the process of demolition are likely to be unstable and therefore a hazard due to weak structural integrity and possibly exposed mains power. It is wise to be accompanied by a flying buddy that can watch out for you in these situations.
There are a multitude of different useful FPV flying spot related apps. Spots.fpv, is a free app that can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. Spots.fpv allows users to browse spots listed by fellow FPV pilots, even including a presence function that will notify you if a Spots.fpv user is currently flying at a nearby spot. Other similar apps include Drone Zones and Drone Squad, also available free of charge on the App Store and Google Play Store.
An internet search is a great technique for finding recently abandoned buildings or rundown complexes due for destruction. These vacant locations often make excellent, although brutal FPV flying spots. Try searching one of these three key words; vacant, abandoned or urbex, along with the name of a certain area. It is worthwhile to filter the search results for news articles. Local news sources will often produce reports on certain vacant buildings that may be due for destruction or possibly to be rebuilt.
Ask Other FPV Pilots
If you are fortunate enough to have a local flying crew, ask around either online or in person. Nobody will know the locations of the best local FPV flying spots better than the more experienced pilots in your area.
Conclusion – What Makes an Optimal Flying Spot?
In summary, the ideal FPV flying spot varies from pilot to pilot, dependent on flying style. An empty grassy field may be gold for a racer, although it will have little to offer for a freestyle pilot.
Wishing you the best of luck in your FPV flying spot searches, and remember, leave no stone unturned!