In a Tight Spot – Port Talbot from the Air

The rules can be restrictive, but with good planning the seemingly unachievable can become achievable.

For a current affairs special on BBC ONE Wales the challenge was to show the Port Talbot steelworks in the context of the surrounding urban area. After all, the Port Talbot works really are IN Port Talbot.

So what are the rules? For our sub-7kg rig it comes down to a simple requirement:

[An unmanned aircraft] must not fly ‘within 50m of a person, vehicle, vessel or structure that is not under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft’ (Air Navigation Order Article 167)

And when you measure out 50m it’s a surprisingly long way.

But in this case all was not lost. Thanks to the Aberavon Wizards we managed to get access to their perfectly placed rugby pitch, right in the middle of the congested area. Instantly this gave us the 50m separation we needed.

The other tool at our disposal was lens choice. The DJI Inspire’s MFT camera system offers a wide range of compatible lenses and even the 25mm option narrowed the field of view right in to the adjacent houses.

It’s a good reminder that when the rules act as a prompt to find an imaginative safe solution they justify their existence very nicely.

Michael Sheen: The Fight for my Steel Town is broadcast at Wednesday 8 June 2016 at 8pm. Also available on the BBC iPlayer.

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