London This month I was fortunate enough to be able to fly in London, specifically Hyde Park. It all started a few months ago, when one of the Officers in my Regiment approached me and asked if it were possible to film the Major General’s Parade. Having never thought about flying in London before, and knowing that the area of London is subject to much more regulation than your average Class D airspace – I said I’d look into it. After a week of casually asking around different forums, I wasn’t getting very far on the matter. So relating back to the training we received at Icarus, I dug out Information Notice 2014/190, which relates to ͞Small Unmanned Aircraft Operations within London and Other Towns and Cities͟. A comprehensive title if I ever did see. Within the notice, it explains that the area I wanted to fly around was within Restricted Area EG157 (it’s a large chunk of central London extending up to and beyond of Hyde Park). Luckily, it also explains that if I wished to make a flight there I would need to make an application for an ͞Enhanced Non-Standard Flight͟ (ENSF) via the NATs website. The application is easy enough, filling in all the details of where, when, why etc. It states that this has to be done no later than within 28 days of the flight, so did it at the 30 day mark, for fudge factor. I wasn't expecting to hear anything for some time, but within a week I had a reply, yes. They agreed to all but one of the days I had requested for. The agreement from NATs as they say is ͞in principle͟, which means that it can still be cancelled by the relevant authorities at any time. With the airspace secured, time for the ground. Hyde Park is owned and operated by the Royal Parks. After shooting out an email making my request to one of the liaisons with our work, I eventually got a phone call. After talking them through the purpose of the flight, exact locations etc. They agreed, as long as I could give them in advance my risk assessment and a clear list of my control measures for safety purposes.
Of course, I did this straight away for them and once again I had a yes. Airspace secured, land owners permission secured... now just to wait for the flight days (I planned to film several rehearsals before the main event). Day one comes, rain. Typical! No worries, two days later and my second opportunity comes around, the wind was on the high side but not beyond the safety limits. After conducting a quick test flight, I felt happy to go ahead. Horse and troops arrive, I take off and start filming. I did require one battery change change mid way through, but luckily there was a lull in the parade when I was able to do this. Please note that when working with not just horses, but people riding them, it is incredibly important to keep communication with those involved. Also be constantly aware of your distance to them and note any reactions that might seem out of the ordinary. With the parade ended, and satisfied with the variety of shots I had gained, time to land and pack up. The third day, second time flying, went pretty much the same and allowed me to get a different variety of shots. I did have another day booked in, but it was decided that it wasn't needed, so I utilised the time to get some video from the ground. Overall, a success. The raw Video was clipped together the same night and sent to the Officers for training purposes. I then made a more creative product that was used on the Regiment’s Facebook page to promote the event. The whole experience from beginning to end went pretty well (other than one rain day). I honestly had been expecting to meet more resistance than I had when flying in restricted airspace within London, but between NATs, Met Police, Diplomatic Protection Group and
London ATC, the whole process was made easy. I must also thank Royal Parks for making their process simple enough. Granted, I was flying in Hyde Park therefore didn't have the congested area problems someone might have, but if I could give any advice, it would be to make sure you have all your own paper work in order before you start making applications. This will just make the process that much more fluid, it also helps to show the relevant authorities that you know what you're doing.