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Old Jan 25, 2013, 01:39 PM
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United States, IL, Chicago
Joined Feb 2012
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Disoriented? What do you do?

I understand the best action you can take is to really get to know the area by viewing maps before the flight. However, what if you find yourself completely disoriented while flying FPV? Without a GPS to guide you, what do you do??
Do you attempt to go higher to get a better perspective of where you are and potentially improve your signal? Do you look for a distinctive landmark where you can land and later look up the landmark on a map to pick up the aircraft?

PS: Is there a special place in heaven where lost planes go?
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Old Jan 25, 2013, 01:52 PM
Crashomatic
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United States, CA, SF
Joined May 2010
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I make circles until i figure where i am again
i never put myself in a situation where i had no clue where i was i just happen to not recognize some areas i've been through all that well, so circling helps then

else I guess i'd look for a recognisable place and land there. Going higher generally means seeing less stuff for me, unless theres big buildings/mountain/antennas/big forest, or lake that i could recognize from high up..
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Old Jan 25, 2013, 02:01 PM
Don't leave it Stock
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USA, IL, Round Lake
Joined Feb 2004
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I pray alot it seems LOL. I'm a panicker when disoriented, it has taken me many flights to ovecome this and trust my plane(s). 100's of flights and still when I'm lost the heart starts a pounding, by breathing slowly and trusting my equipment I'm able to fly out of it. Altitude has helped sometimes, knowing your surroundings is best.
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Old Jan 25, 2013, 02:30 PM
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United States, AL, Huntsville
Joined May 2012
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It has happened to me as well, and amazingly, almost right over where I was flying. Took off, put my goggles on and it was like where am I? I made the mistake of flying straight instead of circling, however, I did it because my video was breaking up. I ended up losing my plane. Was really dumb thinking about it now as it was very easily avoidable. You learn.
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Old Jan 25, 2013, 03:04 PM
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Daemon's Avatar
Lakewood, Colorado
Joined Aug 2002
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Obviously the best thing to do is not get disoriented in the first place, by paying
attention to landmarks as you fly, but it does still happen. First two things to be aware of
are the wind direction, and direction of the sun. Chances are, if you've climbed
high and gotten lost, you've drifted downwind. Let's say the wind is blowing from
the west, and now you're lost. It's likely that you're east of home, or drifting
that direction. If it's midday and the sun is directly to the south, then you'd want
to put the sun on your left side and fly west into the wind, or if circling, at least extend
your circles to the west to avoid drifting further away.

You can also determine your direction from the ground station by blocking your
video signal with your body. You or your spotter can slowly move around the
ground station until you see some added static. That'll give you a direction to
the plane. Again, note the direction of the sun. If the sun is due south and you determine
the plane is south of your GS, fly away from the sun.. if north.. fly toward
the sun.. if east, sun on your left.. and so forth. Most big roads and streets in
the US are biased toward N/S/E/W directions, so once you pick a direction to fly,
find a road to follow and try to keep on a straight course. You may discover
in doing so, that the wind is pushing you off course. That can be useful
information as well, as again you're likely downwind of the GS.
If you're using a directional antenna, try turning it until the signal gets
better or worse. Again, that'll tell you what direction you are from GS,
and you can plan a reverse heading. If you never see static trying to
block the signal or re-pointing your antenna, then you're likely high
overhead. Note also however, that the signal can get *really* bad
in the nulls of the antennas directly overhead.

Resist the urge to tear your goggles off and try to find the plane in the sky visually.
It's very hard to spot a random dot somewhere in a big sky. If you've got a usable
video signal, you're much better off flying the plane home. If it's far enough
that you're starting to lose the video, you won't see it LoS anyway.

Look for roads, intersections, water towers, railroad tracks, lakes, ponds, towns etc. Try to
correlate what you see with what you know about your area. Obviously easier,
if you live there. If you don't, try to remember the road you drove in on and landmarks
you may have passed on the way. Climbing to see more may help, but it'll also
use more power, and you may climb into stronger wind.

If all else fails, and the video is starting to get bad and you don't know which
way to go and feel you may have to land out, then pick the biggest landmarks you can
see and aim for a spot near them. A big farm, crossroads, quarries, ponds, etc. If you can
see a road running over a hill, aim for the top of the hill to give you
the best chance of maintaining the signal all the way to the ground. While not impossible
to find your aircraft from memory alone, this is where having a ground recording is
essential. It'll usually lead you straight to the area.

Oh, one final note. Even if you have an OSD and RTH arrow, it's possible
to get lost and stay lost, if you find yourself in wind higher than the cruise
speed of the plane. If it's pointed into the wind, but moving backwards over the
ground, the arrow home will point the wrong direction. If you make a full circle
the arrow will point the right direction only when going downwind. The key to
recognizing this situation is to watch your distance and speed, not the
arrow home. Point the plane in the direction that produces the lowest speed,
decrease your altitude (to get out of the biggest wind) and increase throttle until you're
making progress toward home (may see arrow swing around).

ian
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Old Jan 25, 2013, 03:08 PM
Don't leave it Stock
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USA, IL, Round Lake
Joined Feb 2004
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^^^^ Well Spoken^^^^
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Old Jan 25, 2013, 04:53 PM
fly by night
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Joined Sep 2011
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fly off a beach along the coast Or at least a major highway or river.

In my flight training course the instructor was telling me they get all the students to do their X country requirements along the coastlines so nobody gets lost. Yes even fullsize pilots get lost - scary.

Also getting high helps. I get lost within our flying field sometimes when flying at 10ft AGL. But climb to 60ft and I am golden.

I sometimes get the the flying spot with my huge white pickup truck. That thing is a rolling aid to navigation! Can find it a couple miles away.

and wait till you start to do night flying ... oh yeah that is fun, but gotta be comfortable and know your equipment and geography.
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Old Jan 25, 2013, 08:16 PM
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Great writeup, Ian. Excellent!
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Old Jan 25, 2013, 08:37 PM
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Canada, ON, Greater Sudbury
Joined Nov 2011
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I have studied my comfort mile around my launch area, I know where the sun is at noon when i mostly fly. I have also picked out some very distinct landmarks or ground items that let me know I am out of bounds and it time to turn. I'm lucky to have a very easy to read river system along my route so it between it and the highway I would have to do something out of the norm, foggy camera or go fly where I never been to disorientate myself. I have very little trust that my osd will be my saviour, its just a part of the flight tools. I figured I would climb slightly and rutter right if I get lost, nothing yet but thats my failsafe on my radio and my plan as well. cheers
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Old Jan 25, 2013, 10:32 PM
Gravity is patient............
Joined Mar 2006
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Get an osd with GPS and pray it doesn't fail. lol.

Anyway, good question.... great question. Because alot of people new to FPV don't realize just how different everything looks from up there. The typical thought process is, oh that won't be a problem. But it's a huge one.

Best advice is if you don't have a gps osd, start out in very short range until you get to know the area from the sky and gradually branch out.
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Old Jan 26, 2013, 04:57 AM
BEOWULF
North vancouver, B.C. Canada
Joined Apr 2008
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Be careful even if you know the area well and fly into the wind and follow all procedures to know where you are at all times

Because at higher elevations the wind play tricks very fast

Soon as you get really high up very strong wind can blow your plane many miles in very small amount of time

This is reason to fly into the wind, as plane can get blown back towards you and over your head and behind you very very very very fast when flying up high


High directional video rx antenna and capability to manually aim it is paramount to orienteering and knowing where plane is at all times
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Old Jan 26, 2013, 04:13 PM
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United States, MI, Detroit
Joined Feb 2004
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Best thing you can do is look for major landmarks BEFORE you fly. Use google maps for things like a water tower, distinctive pond or building, etc. Look for something in the 4 cardinal directions around you. That way if you get lost you can look for a landmark.

Then when you first take off, turn around and find yourself. Then climb higher, fly a little farther then do it again. Then look for major landmarks. Then as you're going about flying, passively look for landmarks should you have to make an off field landing. Dont be obsessive to ruin your flying, but keep in mind anything that you can quickly fly to and put down near should the need arise.

Even with GPS and favorable wings, you can get lost. I once did a late evening flight and flew away from the sun and went long distance. On the way back a haze rolled in and I found myself flying into the sun. I followed my GPS until I saw a landmark I recognized, but then panicked when it didnt agree with my GPS location and video was going out. It took me a bit to figure out I was flying over a pond that looked exactly like my landmark, but was 1500 feet to the east.
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Old Jan 26, 2013, 05:11 PM
fly by night
BCSaltchucker's Avatar
Joined Sep 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David22 View Post
Be careful even if you know the area well and fly into the wind and follow all procedures to know where you are at all times

Because at higher elevations the wind play tricks very fast

Soon as you get really high up very strong wind can blow your plane many miles in very small amount of time

This is reason to fly into the wind, as plane can get blown back towards you and over your head and behind you very very very very fast when flying up high


High directional video rx antenna and capability to manually aim it is paramount to orienteering and knowing where plane is at all times
maybe attend ground school and learn to read aviation meteorology so you know what to expect aloft. Course I am in has 18 hours of class time on aviation meteoroogy alone.
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Old Jan 26, 2013, 05:49 PM
FPVing for fun...
rcall's Avatar
Joined Jul 2003
557 Posts
simple: don't!

Daemon said it all, pay attention to the wind and to the sun and you'll never get disoriented...
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Old Jan 26, 2013, 05:50 PM
Detroit 2-stroke junkie
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USA, CA, Oceanside
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Pop smoke!
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