I just recently finished building my TBS Discovery quadcopter with a brushless gimbal. I’ve been jealously watching videos from the west coast. Between the beaches of California and the rock formations of Arizona, I’ve been feeling like Maryland just didn’t have anything comparable to offer. Turns out, I just wasn’t looking in the right places. I remembered Savage Mill and the Savage river thats only about 15 minutes from my house.
A few minutes on Google Earth showed me a scenic river and rapids. Ok, not Grand Canyon rapids but rapids. Savage rive has a trail that follows the upper banks for about a mile. The river is in a ravine with wood stair cases down to the banks regularly spaced along the trail. There is also a trail that runs along the bank. The problem is that the rocks along the bank are pretty big and impassable ins certain spots. The other issue is that along the scenic rapids there is no place to launch a quadcopter on the trail side.
Looking across the bank to the other side you can see a trail. Not only a trail but flat open spaces that would be great for launching a quadcopter. I figured there would be a nice well maintained path down to this trail. Not so much. I drove to the other side of the Mill and asked for directions to the trail on that side of the river. The lady I asked gave me a little mischievous smile and asked how much hiking I wanted to do. I said not that much and she pointed me to trail that sloped down to the river. I started walking down the trail and everything seemed fine. Until you get close to the rapids I wanted to film. The trail ends and turns into a very rocky riverbed. Of course you couldn’t see the rapids from where I was. I had the quadcopter strapped onto my backpack, so started hiking over the rocks. It turned out to look worse than it was. Low and behold around the bend was the trail I was looking for.
The trail follows the rapids very closely and gives a great view. I found I a large sewer cover to setup the quadcopter on. I took off and every thing was going great. Until, I misjudged by distance from a quad eating tree. I hit the tree and the quad did its best stay up but failed. Down it went into the water. So, naturally ran after it, jumped into the rapids and chased after it as it slowly flowed away over some rocks. Luckily it was near the bank and hadn’t gone to far. I managed to retrieve it pretty quickly.
The really amazing thing is that after letting everything dry out the only thing I lost were the four ESCs. The footage over the rapids was even salvaged, except for the crash. I ordered some replacement ESCs and was back in the air. The next weekend I returned and filmed the other side of the river keeping a safe distance from those malicious trees.
I was happy with the quality of the video. What I need to do is learn to fly FPV. I’m filming line of site and because I can’t judge the distances as well with out the FPV perspective the filming is a little stiff. Still, its a good start.
I’ve got a few more sites lined up. So stay tuned for some more outdoor adventures.