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Lissan House 360 Degree Full Circle Rainbow - Phantom 3 Aerial Footage

I need to back track a little to the previous week. I was training with the Phantom 3 Advanced quadcopter in my back garden doing slow and low precise movements just for the purpose of building my flying and filming skills in a confined area, my aim was to manually circle around a bush in the centre of the garden with the camera trained on the bush. I was doing well with the P3 one meter above the grass when suddenly it began to slowly drift towards the garden shed, it seemed to be drawn towards it and a crash was about to happen, I had a few sec's to take evasive action but I completely froze unable to work out what controls I needed to avoid the impact, then smash, a loud buzzing noise and a shower of small plastic shrapnel flew into the air and my quadcopter landed on the garden upside down with two smashed propellers. I thought it was damaged for good and after a frantic moment I managed to calm down and figure out a solution to the problem. I cleaned the dirt off the body, removed the two broken propellers and fixed on two new props which came with the Phantom for situations like this. I then let the P3 cool down and took it out to the country for a test and it flew absolutely perfectly which made me feel at ease once again.

On Saturday March 5th Roisin and I took it out for a flight and instantly we could see something was wrong, the P3 drifted in flight and was unstable, it was windy outside so maybe this was the issue but I knew that was hopeful thinking. I waited until the following morning March 6th to try again in Dad's backyard as the weather was calm and the same thing happened, it was drifting in flight and unstable. I spent all of Sunday afternoon researching the problem on google and youtube and learned that the situation could be repaired with an IMU calibration which I learned in depth how to do. After seeing a stunning aurora display that same evening Roisin and I drove to Cookstown and spent the night at Dad's house where I did my very first cold IMU calibration. I left the P3 in the cold garage for 30 min's in a frosty night to cool then attached the battery and used a spirit level to make sure I was on level ground then did my calibration and a full gimble calibration too. On Monday March 7th I didn't intend on doing any filming or training, I just wanted to get it airborne to see how the calibration went to get peace of mind.

During the late afternoon Roisin, my Dad and I decided to go for a walk through the grounds of Lissan House outside Cookstown for some fresh air and exercise so I decided to bring the P3 with me just in case I got a chance to fly. I crossed the foot bridge over the small river and set the carrying case in a field, the sky was grey, cold, and it was raining from a slow moving passing shower, quite miserable to be honest, but I waited and waited then Roisin and Dad met up with me from their walk. Suddenly the clouds broke and the low sun appeared behind us instantly causing a stunning rainbow to appear straight in front of us beyond the trees. This was a rare opportunity to film a rainbow from above and I couldn't let this moment pass however I was worried about frying the electronics in the P3 because there was still precip falling through the air in the wake of the shower, the drone wasn't waterproof so I was hesitant about going up in it as it could damage the craft, I looked at Dad and said ''what do you think?'', a few seconds later Dad replied ''get her up'', and that was all I needed to make it happen.

I honestly thought the rainbow would vanish before I got airborne as they tend to be short-lived transient events so I felt a major rush to get it ready in time. Tablet on, controller on, aircraft on, open dji pilot app, then did my calibration dance and after a brief warming up period and home point recorded the controller informed me it was ready to fly. I switched to video, pressed record, then lifted off the carrying case and went vertical straight up into the sky far above us. Even from the ground this rainbow would have been worthy of shooting with a DSLR, the colours were extremely rich with primary and secondary bows and even fine supernumerary arcs under the primary with a curtain of hail stones falling from the sky either side f the bow, but now as I climbed vertically I knew I would be getting my first ever look at a rainbow from above, something that no one except pilots get to witness. When I reached the correct height I panned the camera down and was treated to my first ever 360 full circle rainbow, I called Dad over to look at the screen on the controller, this was unbelievable, we could see a complete bow with vibrant colours in the sky and projected onto the landscape below forming a huge circle of colour.

You can even see a portion of the secondary bow projected onto the ground too, in fact, Lissan House (white building) can be seen perched between the primary and secondary bows below the craft. I was taking video and panning and tracking the bow taking it all in as the downdraught from the shower gently pushed the craft to the right downwind so I had to combat that force and keep it steady and on track. Dad reminded me to get images too so I switched to the still camera, hovered, and snapped 12mp stills of this amazing scene. Raindrops were still falling on the Phantom however it was more like a sprinkle and I hoped the air from the spinning props would dry it out for a little longer.

Camera tilted straight down, it was remarkable to see a rainbow on the ground like this, the bow could be seen vividly on the sunlit fields and treetops with amazing warm light during golden hour.

Panning the Phantom to the left for another still showing the sky and ground bows merging into a circle. The craft was flying with utter perfection, the IMU calibration had put everything back in balance, it was now stable, responsive, and fun to fly and film at the same time.

Alexander's Dark Band visible between the bows with more rain and hail moving in from behind from another shower so I brought the Phantom back to it's home point again just as the heavier rain arrived. We played back the footage on the tablet for a quick review and were blown away by what we saw, this was a new experience for all of us, I couldn't wait to get it back to the house and upload the footage onto the lap top. That was one heck of a flight and all with just one battery with enough juice left for more flying if needed, the Phantom really did us proud today.

I implore you to watch the video footage showing the entire bow via the Phantom 3, for those interested the soundtrack is from the movie 'The Edge' starring Anthony Hopkins about a killer Bear in Canada. I intend on filming more rainbows and other atmospheric phenomena from the air in the near future and it's also my intention to get aerial footage of stoorms, rainbows and mammatus clouds at sunset then NLCs when the season approaches, should be interesting times ahead. Thanks very much for reading.


Martin McKenna

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