Flying on Redonda

(For email readers: make sure you come to the website so you can see the video. Also, for full screen – which I highly recommend – you might have to click the vimeo button in the lower right to watch it there.)

 

One of the pieces of equipment I was most eager to try on Redonda was the Mavic Pro drone that we’d brought along to survey vegetation and record a glimpse of just how it looked and felt to be on the island. That goal was very nearly foiled by the knock-you-over wind that never let up over much of the island, but luckily, the western cliff faces (picture below) were fairly protected from the prevailing easterly tradewinds.

Redonda from the air

But, I struggled to find a spot for taking off and landing. As you might guess there weren’t a whole lot of flat areas on this side of the island, and absolutely none of them were rock-free. By digging out rocks and wiping away loose dirt I was able to make this landing site below. Be sure to note, landing about 3 inches to the left, right, or front and those propellers are grinding on stone. Time to start sweating.

IMG_4559

Flyers among you might just have said, why not catch it in air? Well, the Mavic is “too smart” for that. With an array of sensors on its underside to avoid crashes, an extended hand and a projecting stone are avoided with equal enthusiasm. The first (and last) time I caught the little Mavic in the air the propellers did an emergency escape maneuver that was absolutely terrifying to behold. More sweating.

Then, there was the height. I’ll be honest, I’m a little squeamish about cliffs (Anthony and Geoff are going to chuckle at that understatement). Looking up while flying the drone wasn’t a problem. Even looking up at the drone and watching its view of me from a great height doesn’t make me woozy. But looking down at a drone and seeing its birds-eye view of a complete lack of immediately proximate terra firma had me quaking in my boots.  Buckets of sweat at this point.

But, it was worth it. I did two long evening flights and got 50 short clips of life on the western face of Redonda. I never flew quite close enough to the boulders to actually count lizards but hopefully by flying in similar areas year-to-year we’ll get a look at how this part of the island is changing. I hope you enjoy the video. Flying here does give a pretty remarkable view of just how rugged and beautiful Redonda is.

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