It was too windy today to get above 30 m, so I just snapped this still before taking the Mini on a "walk" down the block. But I also didn't want to waste a perfectly clear day, so I snapped this before bringing the drone back down to eye level:
When you learn how to fly real planes, you learn slow flight first, because it teaches you how to control the plane precisely. And before I do something to permanently damage the Mini, I thought learning how to control it made a lot of sense.
Alas, the forecast calls for breezy weather all weekend and into early next week. Someday I'll get up to 120 m and let it get farther than half a block from me. Someday.
Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale Tweeted yesterday that 200,000—no, 300,000!—people have bought tickets to the campaign rally scheduled for Juneteenth—no, June 20th!—at the 19,000-seat arena in Tulsa where it will take place. It was not clear where all these people would sit. Or park. Or spontaneously manifest in the reality-based world.
Meanwhile, the number of Covid-19 cases has started to climb again, and for reasons passing understanding, in the states that opened up the most quickly.
Objective facts exist. I really hope we get back to them someday.
It's day 88 of my exile from the office, but I recently found out I may get to go in for a day soon. Will this happen before the 24th (day 100)? Who's got the over/under on that?
Meanwhile, outside my bubble:
And just in case you're not scared of everything on earth, here's a list of things in the cosmos that can help you feel even more scared.
This morning I took my tiny drone out for a longer flight than the short tests I've done so far, in part because at 8am the winds didn't threaten to blow the thing into the lake. I've also started mapping a source of radio interference near my house that had disrupted previous attempts to get up to real altitude.
So this morning, I went to a more open spot away from my house and took the drone up to 70 meters vertical and 200 meters horizontal from its takeoff point:
After this flight, I "walked" the drone around the block like a levitating dog, until its battery started to go and it decided to try flying back to its starting point. It took me a moment to realize I needed to cancel the "return to home" function to let it land next to me instead of a block away.
I'm really enjoying this toy. And I've only crashed it twice...
I love historian J.R. Schmidt's "Then and Now" series on his Chicago History Today blog. Mostly he posts photos he took as a kid (late 1940s through early 1960s) and contrasts them with contemporary photos.
Then, recently, I came across this photo from a location just a couple of blocks from me that photographer Bob Rehak took during an arson epidemic on 22 April 1976:
Here's the same location today:
Rehak's other photos from the era are incredible. Uptown was in a different universe 45 years ago.
Day 3 of flight testing didn't go as well as I'd hoped. The winds picked up a bit, so my little guy refused to ascend past 28 meters and at one point lost contact with my remote. I have a feeling that radio interference will make urban flying more challenging.
I did get a good look at the lake, though:
The weather forecast looks breezy today and tomorrow, calming a bit Saturday. And if it's calmer around 8pm tonight, I'll try to get some dusk shots of the city. Honestly, the weather interfering with testing the drone feels a bit like the fall of 1999 when weather delays kept pushing my private-pilot checkride back.
At least I didn't crash today. Yesterday I hit a shrub and a fence, the latter impact actually costing me a propeller blade. At least the yet-unnamed quadcopter didn't suffer worse damage.
Someone threw a widdle tantwum this morning:
President Donald Trump's campaign is demanding CNN retract and apologize for a recent poll that showed him well behind presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
The demand, coming in the form of a cease and desist letter to CNN President Jeff Zucker that contained numerous incorrect and misleading claims, was immediately rejected by the network.
The CNN poll conducted by SSRS and released on Monday shows Trump trailing the former vice president by 14 points, 55%-41%, among registered voters. It also finds the President's approval rating at 38% -- his worst mark since January 2019, and roughly on par with approval ratings for one-term Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush at this point in their reelection years -- and his disapproval rating at 57%.
David Vigilante, CNN's executive vice president and general counsel, told the campaign that its "allegations and demands are rejected in their entirety."
"To my knowledge, this is the first time in its 40-year history that CNN had been threatened with legal action because an American politician or campaign did not like CNN's polling results," Vigilante wrote in his response. "To the extent we have received legal threats from political leaders in the past, they have typically come from countries like Venezuela or other regimes where there is little or no respect for a free and independent media."
We knew he wouldn't go quietly. So let's just keep laughing at him so that he goes ignominiously.
I mentioned yesterday I got a new toy. Finally, after years of thinking about it (and also watching prices come down), I bought a small drone. The Mavic Mini weighs 249 grams (which has legal significance), flies for half an hour, and takes decent video.
For my first test flights, I put the propeller guards on and did some slow flying around my house. Parker could not have cared less. Encounter number one:
Encounter number two:
So I not only have the best dog on the planet, but I may also have the chillest dog on the planet.
Note #1: After 108 days—a record, I think—I finally got a haircut.
Note #2: After thinking about it for years, literally years, I got a new toy. It's a lot of fun. And it combines two of my favorite topics: aviation and photography. Watch this space later this week.
First, some good news: New Zealand has not had a new Covid-19 case in 14 days, making it officially coronavirus-free. Given it's an archipelago of 3 million people more than 2,000 km from its nearest neighbor, they may have had some natural defenses against reinfection.
In other news:
An oddly quiet day, it seems. Probably because it's Monday.