While we have all been out embracing the heatwave at every opportunity, as a result our Flying Unit has had to contend with a busier airspace. As well as all the air shows at this time of year, when the weather is good, those with PPLs (Private Pilot Licence) are more likely to take to the air.
Despite this meaning they have to be extra vigilant, our Flying Unit has been making the most of this unique weather window with unprecedented results. The best way to demonstrate it is with the below graph. This shows the stark comparison of our flying season volumes against previous years.
The team’s target for this year is to fly and cover 50,000 km2 and, as you can see, they are in a great position for this time of year with just over 47,000 km2 flown up to 15 July. This is over 95,100 individual images of photography so far this year!
As the Flying Unit survey the whole of GB every three years, they have to make the most of weather opportunities. There are many areas that can be difficult to capture either due to restrictions over airways or poor weather conditions. Even on sunny days, if the cloud sits at around 7,000-8,000 feet, the plan for cloud free imagery is impaired.
The Flying Unit also fly to assist our field surveyors in updating our mapping in hard to access areas or areas with no access such as railway lines, motorways or industrial chemical works. They fly these smaller bespoke targets whilst in transit to the larger blocks to make them economical to capture. Each year, the team flies around 120 targets such as these and so far, this year they’ve already had 60 in our programme and have flown all 45 which were ready to fly. Some of these are not due to fly until later in the year. As we fly from February until the end of October, we are able to be flexible and receive targets throughout the year.
Aside from our aerial imagery, the team often take great photos in between targets. This time around, they were very excited to see the RAF planes that took part in the #RAF100 celebrations.
Background on the team
There are currently six air camera operators who, when not on flying duty, carry out surveying work both in the field and for Remote Sensing Services (RSS). Jean Martin, Operations Production Manager, manages the Flying Unit in RSS with daily contact as well as visiting the Flying Unit at East Midlands.
Click here to find out a bit more about the equipment our team use in the planes!