I have just done some aerial photography of a pallet yard in Nottinghamshire. My brief was to get as close as I could to the pallet yard and to photograph it from the air from all angles and to show its location. On the face of it, that sounded straightforward, however, when I checked the location of the pallet yard, it was sited on the edge of Langar Airfield in Nottinghamshire which is a parachute drop zone and as such, is a no-fly zone for any aircraft other than the aeroplanes that drop the parachutists. Being a private pilot myself, I knew the relevant people to contact to get the permission needed to enter the no-fly zone.
Having got the required permission (subject to fitting in around the parachute drops), I waited for a sunny day with good visibility and hired a helicopter and pilot. I felt a helicopter was best for this job as they are far more manoeuvrable than fixed-wing aircraft and as we had to fit in around the parachute drops, we had to get the shots done as quickly as possible. It would have taken longer with fixed-wing as we would have had to orbit the site for a lot longer. I also ruled out using my 15m ground-based aerial mast as it would not have been high enough for the shots required in my brief. It is great for low-level wide-angle shots that can look really dramatic, but it was not high enough for this job. Luckily it was a hot day as I always insist on taking the door off on my side of the helicopter as I don’t want to shoot through the perspex window. It was actually a really comfortable temperature, although I was glad I wore a wind-proof Goretex jacket! I have done aerial photography shoots on cold winter days and despite wearing lots of layers, it can be absolutely freezing.
Anyway, we took off, let air-traffic control know what we were doing and that we had the relevant permission to enter the no-fly zone. We then changed radio frequencies to contact Langar drop zone to wait for clearance to enter their zone. As soon as all the parachutists were on the ground, we were allowed to enter and we found the pallet yard very quickly. It is amazing how different places look from the air than from the ground, but this was a very distinctive site which made it easier for us. I took lots of photos from all directions and heights. We were able to fly low when we were over the airfield as we didn’t have to worry about the usual low-flying laws that apply when not over airfields, so that as a real bonus. All in all, a successful mission.