Here is my experience flying in the snow with almost zero visibility - it was still a ton of fun!
Snow flying, I find, often makes for the best FPV experiences. You can view the radically altered landscape from a new perspective and admire the breathtaking views from up high. Even blasting along with an adrenalin-filled quad, you can still appreciate how awesome everything looks under a white blanket. I recently took advantage of the snowfall to grab some great video from the air - but not everything went right. Here's what I learned
The plane I was using for this particular mission was a Mini Sky Hunter. This is a medium-sized, medium range FPV aircraft. It's robust and waterproof enough to take the arctic-like conditions in its stide. You can read my full build of the Sky Hunter here. Also, here's an article talking about how to put together your own bespoke FPV platform featuring the same plane.
Regarding the FPV setup, I was using a powerful 600mw transmitter. For the main video, I equipped the Sky Hunter with an old GoPro 3 Black, something that can still capture great video but isn't the most valuable camera in the world. I kept this action cam in its case to protect it from the snow.
For control, I was using my trusty DX9 Black Edition.
Take your time when setting up. It can be easy to forget things at the best of times, nevermind in challenging conditions. Try taking a checklist. I forgot to turn the GoPro on just before takeoff meaning I had to land - doh!
After the second takeoff, it was clear the weather wasn't playing ball. Visibility had dropped rapidly. A quick check through my Fatshark goggles confirmed the worst: there was simply no chance of flying FPV with this reduced visual range.
With a few fun line-of-sight buzzes close to the ground, I decided to call it. You simply couldn't see enough. Always be safe when flying models. If it seems like conditions are deteriorating - get down and get packed up. There will always be another day, another opportunity for more fun.
Down in one piece. Remember, snow is water. If you're flying a plane, make sure to waterproof your electronics or ensure no snow can reach them. This includes servos, your receiver, and your FPV gear.
1) Take extra layers to the field. Use fingerless gloves too or a transmitter case, if you can. Make sure to look after yourself as well as your plane!
2) Don’t fly a white plane. You probably won’t find it if it goes down in the snow! I'm going to spray this one orange or some other bright color.
3) Exercise good decision making: if something isn’t looking right on the ground (a faulty hatch or a vibrating prop for example) don’t fly. Fix the issue first, fly later.
For a full article on advice for flying in the winter, make sure to follow this link.
Flying in the snow is rewarding; you have to physically trek out into the cold, brave the elements and still pull off a flight. It's a mission, but sometimes worth it.
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Article written by James Whomsley
Editor of FliteTest.com
YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/projectairaviation