Category: Air

How Much Does A Plane Turn (On Its Side) When Turning In The Air?

airplane turn

Have you ever wondered when looking out the window as your plane is maneuvering for a landing, how steep those turns actually are? The slight jolt in your stomach combined with the view out the window (what seems like all ground or all sky depending on which side you’re on) gives the impression that your plane is nearly on its side.

The truth is the airlines try not to freak you out and keep things comfortable in the cabin. Jumbo jet turns are impressive but not as drastic as your senses are telling you.

Two Forces At Work

Let’s keep things very simple. Planes in flight need to move forward (speed) to keep a constant flow of air over the wings. This constant flow of air provides lift. As you gain altitude upon takeoff, the wings are angled up. When you reach a cruising altitude, speed is reduced and the wings are angled in a way to provide and equal balance between two forces: lift and gravity.

plane turn

At takeoff in particular, as the plane accelerates, you can feel the gravitational force (g-force) increase. You feel heavier in your seat (the forward momentum is pushing you into the seat). At cruising altitude your plane is no longer accelerating and you feel “normal” i.e. at 1 g.

What Happens When A Plane Turns

There are ailerons on airplane wings what help with direction and lift. (Basically flaps of metal.) Going straight, the aileron are generally straight. To turn an airplane right, the left aileron goes down, the right goes up. This causes the left wing to go up, and the right wing to go down. In this configuration, the plane is now at an angle, with increased overall drag (because the ailerons up or down are less aerodynamic than a straight wing).

Increased drag slows the airplane. Also, in a turn, there’s less area of lift under a wing, causing it to lose altitude. However, to compensate, pilots angle the airplane up as well as increase thrust (speed) to maintain a constant altitude during a turn. You’ll probably feel those changes in your stomach.

Keeping You Comfy

Passenger jets typically don’t bank more than 30 degrees on a turn. They’re capable of more but the steeper the turn, the more thrust needed to keep the plane from losing altitude. Turns at angles more than 30 degrees would cause more g-forces which wouldn’t help airsickness or nervous fliers.

So despite it looking like your plane is about to do a barrel roll on every significant turn, next time you fly, know it’s probably only banked about 20-30 degrees at most. Once you’re on the ground you’ll hear the flight attendants say cross-check, here’s why.

[Second photo by: Nicoguaro]

United Business Class Review: Maybe Mile Worthy

Flying business class is costly (unless your business is paying) so whether its miles or money, if you’re spending either it’s worth shopping around. United, which pretty much has the worst public relations of any airline at the moment, has locked down some key North America to Europe routes – meaning though you may not particularly want to – you might find yourself leaning toward flying business with them.

You can watch my full review of what United’s business class offers in the video above or read on.

Bed Basics

For any flight worth its business class, if the seat doesn’t recline into a bed it’s not worth paying for. United’s transatlantic have seats that have multiple recline settings, including fully vertical. They’re not the newest seats but being able to lay down on a long flight significantly reduces both jet lag and the heavy grogginess that comes with otherwise sitting upright for 10 hours 10,000 meters up.

united business class

The entertainment center is also loaded with one of the best movie selections of any airline on large screens. (American carriers tend to excel in the movie selection, especially latest releases compared to the rest of the world.) Unfortunately the screens have very poor viewing angles and not being adjustable means if you’re even modestly reclined, viewing is difficult at best. These small inconveniences are where United’s business class continually falls short. United has the basic components of what’s become standard for business classes worldwide but it’s just that: standard.

The staff are friendly and you get access to the United and Lufthansa lounges. Neither are particularly noteworthy when comparing to the business classes of other competing airlines like British Airways, but it’s definitely a noticeable step up from economy.

Better Food But Not Good Food

United’s business class is certainly better than flying economy and that’s true of the food too. Meals are better than United economy (albeit the bar is pretty low) but nothing spectacular. Considering United business class seats are several thousand dollars, one would hope the meals would have a bit more quality. Even the presentation is lacking – again, it’s not bad but it’s not good either – almost like a poor copy of what true business class should be.

united busines vegan meal

Vegan meals are 80% not vegan, vegetarian meals are just vegetables, and the small meat or fish dish portions are hidden in pools of mystery sauce.

Effortless, Not In The Best Way

United has a business class which doesn’t have much sincerity to it; missing from the small touches you’ll find on other airlines. United Airlines is clearly banking on their route dominance, so they’re not trying too hard to take or keep your business.

They fly some of the most efficient routes from North America to Europe so you might find yourself stuck with them. I wouldn’t spend money on their business class if there’s even a slightly worse layover or connection on another airline. But, if you can’t find a better alternative and want to get a legs up from economy, using some frequent flyer miles will certainly enhance your trip. United often run saver mile deals through their site where you can use less than 50% of the miles for business class on certain days or times of the year – they’re worth waiting for if you can.

There’s Another Washington D.C. Space Museum 30 Miles Outside The City, Very Worth The Drive

udvar hazy center

Most people, even Washington D.C. locals, don’t know about arguably the best air and space museum in the area, located 30 miles (50 kilometers) away from the city center. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in the suburb town of Chantilly, Virginia, close the Dulles International Airport, is over 32,000 square meters (346,000 square feet) of aviation history.

The Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. is might be the best museum in the world for aviation science lovers, but I say “might” because the Udvar-Hazy Center exists. Here’s some of what you can find inside the two hangars of the museum and why you should really make a day to visit it if you’re in the Washington D.C. area.

wright flyer udvar hazy

The world’s first airplane, the Wright Flyer, is on display at the Air and Space Museum. It’s not a replica, but the actual plane. There are two tours daily, run by volunteers and free, that are very, very, interesting but don’t miss the Wright Flyer segment. Even if you just tag along, there is so much more to the Wright Flyer than a few wings – the design, inspiration, and failures of the Wright brothers in developing the first airplane have valuable lessons for everyone. I can’t recommend it enough.

Donald D. Engen Observation Tower Donald D. Engen Observation Tower from above

A view of the Donald D. Engen Observation Tower, part of the Udvar Hazy Center, outside of Washington D.C. From the tower you can watch flights like mine coming in and if you’re lucky (and on the left side) of the plane landing at Dulles International Airport, see the tower as you approach for landing.

udvar hazy concorde

There are over 240 aircraft inside the Udvar-Hazy Center, which by the way, is free admission. It’s all worth exploring so set aside a few hours for a visit.

udvar hazy helicopter

Documentaries and films are also shown throughout the day at the Udvar Hazy’s IMAX theater. The IMAX screen is 6 stories high, 25.9 meters (85 feet) wide, with 4K resolution. Here’s a current schedule of what’s playing now.

james s mcdonnell space hangar

But this, located in the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar is what really blows people away.

shuttle discovery

The Space Shuttle Discovery, 39 space flights over 27 years, more than any other spacecraft.

discovery udvar hazy

Everyone looking up at Discovery, the engineering feat and what it represents of exploration and for humanity, is left in awe. You’ll see those faces. You’ll have one too.

You can get to the Udvar-Hazy Center using the metro from Washington D.C. but like the rest of the D.C. area, public transportation is terrible. It’s much better to rent a car then drive out to Chantilly, about a 40 minute drive from Washington D.C. at non-peak hours. (Don’t drive during rush hour in the D.C. area.) The address is: 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway Chantilly, Virginia 20151; parking is $15, and regular hours are from 10am- 5:30pm daily with some extended hours.

I’m told mid-week is least crowded but even during the peak weekends, Udvar-Hazy never feels crowded with people. The Udvar-Hazy Center has only about 20% the annual visitors of the Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. – not because it isn’t worth a visit, but because so few know or remember it’s there. After one visit though, you’ll want to tell everybody it’s one museum that doesn’t disappoint.

Is It Still Possible To Visit Socotra Island?

socotra dragon blood tree

The Socotra archipelago, particularly its main island, is one of the most neglected tourism destinations in the world. A big part of the reason, in addition to Socotra’s remote location in the Arabian Sea, is that it’s Yemeni territory. Despite being 380 kilometers (236 miles) off Yemen’s southern coast, visas, not to mention a precarious security situation on the mainland had kept most people away.

A frequent question I’m asked is whether or not it is still possible to visit Socotra, as Yemen’s civil war continues, bypassing the mainland altogether. The answer is technically yes; but you’re not going to like the details.

Flights To Socotra, Sounds Nice

I visited Socotra and the Yemeni mainland several months before war made it too dangerous for travel – obviously, a lot has changed since then. For a while, flights from Sharjah, one of the United Arab Emirates near Dubai on Felix Airways to Socotra’s capital Hadibu were infrequent, but flying occasionally. Those flights have stopped completely, despite the claims by a few tour operators in the UAE. I reached out to several of the tour operators in the UAE and Yemen, as well as some airlines who all floated the sentiment they were hopeful regular service would resume soon, despite there being no change for many months.

socotra island beach

Believe In Ferries

Some tour operators based out of the UAE sign people up to tours, claiming to arrange Socotra trips by ferry. Practically all are canceled, so be very weary before booking or giving money to any tour operator. All of the other options are fairly unofficial, such as traveler Johnny Ward coaxing his way on to a cement shipping boat, with a lot of local help.

“One whole week of phone calls, paperwork, cash, documents, visas etc. went by… to ensure my visa to Yemen wasn’t canceled… to ensure that immigration in Socotra would accept me via the cement boat.”

Clearly, not a travel plan possible, or desirable, by most of you.

Situation Determination

You really have to be persistent, determined, and adventurous to even attempt a trip to Socotra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are substantial costs, not to mention risks, right now in doing so. Travel to Socotra is likely to be practically infeasible as the situation in mainland Yemen continues to deteriorate with more than 70% of the population – most of these peopleneeding humanitarian assistance.

Those of you still wondering why you might want to visit Yemen can take a look to what was and hopefully what may be again one day.

How The DJI Drone Repair Service Works And How Much It Costs

dji mavic drone

Get all the recreational drone laws worldwide on your phone! DroneMate app is now available for iOS and Android.

wifox ios app store     wifox google play android
Crashing a drone, even one with obstacles avoidance sensors like the DJI Mavic Pro, isn’t hard at all. Small falls from a desk can also put your drone out of commission, easily damaging the sensitive camera lens or gimble. For those of you with DJI drones, they’ve got a fairly polished repair service you’ll hopefully never have to use. But things happen.

Here’s how the DJI repair process works and whether or not it’s worth the hassle, cost, or time waiting.

Recover The Drone

First off, I’m writing about the repair process without any kind of warranty, such as the DJI Care repair and replacement plan. So here you are, you’ve crashed or otherwise damaged your DJI drone and wondering why you didn’t spend the extra $99 to get it insured. Whether you have the warranty or not, you need to retrieve the drone. It’s the reason you see people diving into rivers or me throwing car cushions at trees on YouTube to salvage what seems like a lost cause.

dji mavic  DJI Mavic Pro Fly More Combo: Foldable Propeller Quadcopter Drone

amazon button

Once you’ve got your smashed, waterlogged, pathetic looking drone back, log into the DJI website, and head to the repair page.

Find A Service Center

DJI has authorized services centers in over 100 countries (they even list Yugoslavia – not sure what that’s all about). Pick the service center closest to you and select your specific drone (e.g. Phantom 4). The next few pages are where you describe the damage and how the accident occurred.

craiova drone top down

  • Don’t Lie – You might not know it but your drone keeps very details flight records (you can access from the DJI app). Every movement of the drone and controller input is recorded so forget about trying to make a crash seem like a manufacturer defect.

Choose whether or not the damage is a manufacturing defect or pilot error, remove the microSD card, pack up the drone, and send it to the DJI Service suggested to you.

  • Shipping Fees – DJI provide you with a shipping label, covering the shipping, but not packaging, costs.

The average shipping time is about a week, depending on where you’re shipping from of course.

Your Drone Knows A Lot About You

DJI has a repair tracking page whose only purpose seems to discourage you from sending them emails asking where your drone is. Once the technicians get a hold of your drone though, they email you a detailed record of what an idiot the exact events of the accident. Mine went something like this, which you can compare to the crash video below.

Unit was in P-GPS mode and was responsive to RC input; 2. At t=237.9s, relative height=7.1m, unit recorded external impact, then rolled over and fell. 3. User commanded full stick forward toward a tree in a parking lot until 1s before impact. User pressed left turn, backward, right turn, descent, and rightward 1s before impact but forward momentum carried unit to the tree. 4. Obstacle avoidance could not detect fine tree branches due to hardware limitation, especially during winter with no leaf on. Conclusion: User stick command error. Impact in air.

DJI Repair Costs

Obviously this will vary depending on your specific repairs but here’s a general breakdown of the costs, which is contained in that same email with the crash report.

  • Gimbal Camera Component: $101
  • Camera Flexible Flat Cable: $3
  • Back Left Motor Arm: $19
  • Gimbal Vibration Damping: $2
  • Gimbal Mounting Bracket: $1
  • Camera Co-axis Cable: $5
  • Front Left Motor Arm: $22

The service costs $65 an hour – the total work took two hours, added $130 to the cost.

  • Total Repair Cost: $283

Those of you who have DJI Care, if the crash is covered, you only pay up to the warranty. (Varies by drone but for example the Mavic replacement with DJI Care is $79 for the first drone; $139 for the second.) In the email DJI sends back with the costs, they have a Paypal link, where you can decide to pay for the repair or not. Repairs are not started until you make the payment and shipping costs are not charged unless you reject the repair.

Expect To Wait

Clearly, the camera is the most expensive component with labor adding the other bulk of the costs. I was surprised not to see the body, or other parts listed since there were major dents from the fall. I figured DJI would ignore what was probably aesthetic damage but happily surprised when the Mavic was finally shipped back from repair.

dji mavic pro camera gimble

  • Repair Time – Whatever the repair status page says, it will take about 4 weeks.

A drone repaired by DJI is essentially refurbished. There won’t be any signs of previous damage, scratches, or dents. Damaged parts are replaced and repairs are very thorough for the price, essentially 28% the cost of a new drone in this case.

Important: Calibrate Before You Fly!

You may have noticed a few nicks on the Mavic photos in this post and be asking yourself, hey, I thought he said there weren’t any visible marks?! Well, there weren’t when I originally got the Mavic back from DJI but I crashed it nearly immediately. It was indoors for a small test but the Mavic slowly veered left, hitting a wall, then I used the emergency controls to shut off the propellers. I was lucky to have dodged another trip to the service center.

dji calibrate

After looking at the flight records, I realized why the drone wasn’t hovering stably on a horizontal axis. Although DJI tests drones they repair before sending them back, it seems they don’t calibrate the Inertia Measurement Unit (IMU). The IMU orients the drone so when it’s not calibrated properly, it usually drifts.

  • Calibrate All The Things – Be sure to calibrate the compass, IMU, remote controller, and gimble prior to flying any drone you get back from repair.

The DJI repair process is a thorough, but slow, process. Best to avoid it altogether by doing these 12 things before you ever fly a new drone, which will go a long way to prevent a crash in the first place. Given how easy it is to damage your drone combined with the cost of repair makes getting the DJI Care plan all the more sensible. The DJI Care plans cost about 10% the full price of a new drone plus cover two replacement units over the first year – whether or not the damage is your fault. Since it’s a very cumbersome process to add the DJI Care coverage after you’ve purchased your drone (with no guarantees), keep it in mind and part of your budget when shopping.

12 Things To Know Before Flying Your First Drone (So You Don’t Crash It)

Get all the recreational drone laws worldwide on your phone! DroneMate app is now available for iOS and Android.

wifox ios app store     wifox google play android
Drones offer a photographic flexibility no tripod can but are powerful, delicate aircraft that are surprisingly easy to crash. I learned this the fast, hard way, as you can see in the video above: by crashing a new DJI Mavic Pro right into a tree branch on my second day of flying. Despite being in an essentially empty parking lot, I still managed to down a drone equipped with obstacle avoidance sensors.

Drones sent back to DJI for repair are essentially refurbished, with nearly no visible sign of previous damage. Once I got the Mavic back, I flew it in a living room… for about a minute, before another (albeit) minor crash.

As I said, drones are very, very easy to crash, which is probably why we hear about it so often in the news. Since those first mishaps, I’ve flown successfully for hours, shooting travel videos around the world. Other times, I’ve taken the Mavic out to open spaces, pushing it to its limits in a variety of weather conditions. Those early crashes taught me a lot about how to avoid crashing. Here’s what I recommend to any new or inexperienced drone pilot about flying, to protect your drone, the people, and places you’ll be filming.

1. Start Small

arthurs seat drone photo scotland edinburgh

This is a hard piece of advice to follow admittedly, but if you’ve never flown a drone before, getting a serious machine like a Phantom 4 is akin to hopping into a Lamborghini right after receiving your driver’s license. Smaller drones like the Parrot Bebop 2 are more difficult to pilot since they lack the advanced stabilization features of more expensive models, giving you a very good feeling for quad-copter flight. They’re also less powerful, moving slower, staying lower, and being less expensive, not as costly if you make a mistake.

2. Read The Entire Manual

mavic drone camera gimble

Whether or not you completely ignored the first piece of advice above – read the entire manual of any drone before using it. Learn the controls and practice them, with everything turned off. When I first hit a tree, I attempted to turn left out of the way. All I ended up doing was rotating on an axis because I knew the controls but wasn’t familiar enough to use them unconsciously. You need to be able to use the drone controls without having to think about them, like riding a bike.

  • Particular Features To Review Well – Return-to-home functions, emergency shutoff, pause buttons, can all get your drone out of trouble quickly. Hopefully you’ll never have to use any of these functions but knowing about them can protect you as well as other aircraft and buildings against collisions.
  • Don’t Rely On Automated Avoidance Systems – A good feature in concept but in practice, they only detect large, solid objects. Obstacle avoidance is a good fail-safe but never assume its going to save you from smashing into things.

3. Don’t Fly Indoors

writers musuem edinburgh

Drones are hard enough to fly outdoors. Many people think the propellers of a drone will power through a small nick of a wall but what really happens is as soon as they touch anything, it’s game over. Indoors there are more obstacles to hit plus walls dampen GPS signals. Depending on the drone you have, losing a GPS signal can mean your drone switches back to a less accurate positioning system (e.g. ATTI mode on some DJI models). At best the drone will drift a meter or two horizontally – not a problem in most cases outdoors – inside though it could easily run you into a wall.

  • Return To Home Trouble – Many drones have a ‘return to home’ function that’s activated when the drone loses signal with the remote. Typically, there’s some preset altitude the drone will ascend to in order to avoid obstacles, then try to fly back to where it took off. You don’t want ‘return to home’ to be activated indoors since the drone might shoot right up into your ceiling. Yes, you can turn off return to home or set the drone to simply hover if it loses a connection, either way you’re still taking a big risk of an indoor collision.

4. Become Familiar With The Drone App

dji mavic drone app

Now that you’ve become a bit familiar with the remote controller, it’s time to power it on and the drone. Don’t take off yet. Many drones use a mobile app to give you a large variety of flight and video controls. Since your drone app probably won’t be fully functional with the drone turned off, keep it on the ground, power on, and become very familiar with the options. Set the important features: return-to-home (set default altitude as high as allowed), maximum altitude, distance, enabling beginner mode if available.

  • Simulator – A lot of drone apps (DJI, for example) have flight simulators built-in. Simulators are a fantastic way to get comfortable with flight controls while getting a feel for the drone’s sensitivity, without any risk.

5. Respect The Weather

loch ness drone

All manufacturers list maximum wind conditions you shouldn’t fly in. I have tested the Mavic Pro in winds higher than are recommended and found unless you are flying in winds much stronger (double or triple) the recommended maximums, it probably won’t bring your drone down. What wind does though is noticeably move the drone on its horizontal axis making it much easier to hit nearby objects. Especially difficult become landings – the stronger the wind the larger the landing area you’ll need to touch down safety. Beginner pilots should stick to calm skies only when starting out, and no matter how experienced you are, be aware of the risks of going over recommended limits.

  • Rain – Unless your drone is waterproof, don’t push your luck by flying in wet conditions as it’s quite dangerous. A battery that shorts out in midair can turn your drone into a small rock falling from the sky.

6. Learn The Laws

udvar hazy museum

Contact your local, then national, aviation administration if they don’t already have the relevant drone laws listed online. My app, DroneMate, has all of the recreational drone laws around the world updated continuously. It’s available for iOS and Android.

7. When Flying, Avoid Pushing Control Sticks Full Throttle

dji mavic remote controller

This is important: be gentle with the controls! Most drones have powerful motors guided by sensitive joysticks. Drones can move sharply with light touches and really take off if you hit the gas push the sticks all the way in any direction. Many drones have some options for reducing the sensitivity of the controls. Personally, I don’t like doing so in the case I need to maneuver quickly (seagulls are not your friend) but many other drone pilots prefer to keep the controls toned down.

  • Sports Mode: If your drone has one, make sure it’s off. Every time.

8. Fly In Wide, Wide, Open Spaces

drone photo edinburgh

Flat lands with nothing around for as far as you can see are ideal.

9. Practice Moving Vertically, Then Horizontally, Then Both

loch ness aerial

Get comfortable going up and down first because it’s the easiest direction to navigate in most situations. Then take baby steps moving forward, backward, left and right. Once you’re comfortable manipulating vertically, then horizontally, independent of one another, you can begin combining the two. Slowly, of course.

10. Generally: The Higher, The Better

campina lake

Speaking broadly, the higher up you’re flying (as close to the legal limit, of course), the safer your drone is. There are few things to hit at altitude despite our tendency to feel safer flying closer to the ground. Practice honing your instinct so you go up when flying across areas, or have obstacles in your way. Going over, not around, objects is a mentality that can take time to internalize.

  • Birds – As a general rule, birds don’t bother things above them. Try not to fly underneath birds. If you see a hawk or eagle, it’s best to land, as they might mistake your drone for a stupid, slow bird meal. Seagulls have a habit of chasing drones while crows tend not to bother them if they’re alone. Groups of crows (called a “murder”) grow bolder, seemingly daring one another to “try and kick that thing out of the sky.”
  • Wind Drafts – Drones hover unless you fly them otherwise. Birds do not hover. Updrafts, common around mountains, cliffs, and hills will send gliding birds up and down. Be conscious of how the winds are flowing since any nearby birds will move in the same direction.

11. Look At Your Drone, Not The App

loch ness drone photo

After some successful flights, you’ll feel more at ease navigating with your drone app, as opposed to visually maneuvering it. Although drone apps typically have GPS maps, direction readings, and other very useful information, it can be tricky to look down at your remote controller too long before you get the hang of basic flying.

  • Directional Guidance – Drones that are high up in the sky can be difficult to orient by eyesight. Most drone apps have a directional arrow showing you which way the drone is facing relative to you. Being aware of this feature – and finding it – is why you practiced so much with the app before ever flying.

12. Landing Is The Hardest Part

mavic drone landing pad

The first step for a good landing is to have a good takeoff point. In calm conditions, the size of the landing pad should be at least twice the width of the drone itself. Give yourself more space if there’s wind, remembering not to force a landing if the drone moves in a gust as you’re coming down. Take your time landing and make things easy for yourself by choosing an area without any stones, high grass, or other obstacles around.

Take Things Slow

This may seem like a rather long post about not crashing your drone but the truth is there are many ways an accident can occur – most of which are caused by pilot error. You can avoid trouble by thinking like an airline pilot: know the machine you’re flying well, give everything a width berth, focus on safety, and don’t fight the flying conditions.

Remember to learn how to fly, then work on using your drone as a camera. Once piloting the drone becomes second nature you’ll be able to concentrate on creating wonderful travel videos from your trips.

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutI'm the blogger and computer security engineer who writes foXnoMad while on a journey to visit every country in the world. I'll show you the tips, tricks, and tech you can use to travel smarter. Read More


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