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Distant Droney Cousins

I will sometimes head out to El Mirage Dry Lake for testing of my fixed wing stuff. I like it because it has a flat surface for miles and there’s nothing to run in to (except the ground). And the BLM, who runs the place, is completely cool with the flying of RC stuff there.

When I go to El Mirage it’s usually during the week. It can get a bit crazy on weekends with ultralights, land sailers and other off road types. But an added benefit, beyond having a 5 mile long lake bed mostly to myself, is that the REAL drone boys next door are at work.

General Atomics does final testing of their Predator drones from a private landing strip on the south side of El Mirage Dry Lake. Many times I’ve seen Predators fly and circle the area accompanied by a chase plane. Pretty cool sight!

On this visit I happened to be doing some testing of a Tarot 650 quadcopter I’d modified a bit. I sent it off to one end of the lake, about two miles distant, then brought it back along the south shore keeping a respectful distance from the drone farm, but eyeballing it via FPV. After that I returned the Tarot to the launch site and put it into Loiter mode to run out its battery.

About that time I noticed a Predator flying low, in the background and realized what a neat picture that could make. So I grabbed a camera and tried to find a position in which both the Tarot and Predator were both visible. This was a challenge as the camera’s LCD screen was pretty much invisible in the daylight. But I got lucky and snapped the following. Click to make it bigger.

Distant cousin in the upper left to my Tarot 650.

Distant cousin in the upper left to my Tarot 650.