What is a multi rotor Safety Officer? What do they do? These are the questions I’m answering in my series “The Multi Rotor Safety Officer.” You can read part 1 if you need to catch up, or just jump in! Today’s post is about…

On location at a closed film set.

On location at a closed film set.

Assessing the Location

Upon arrival at a new location, a good Safety Officer should take time to assess any safety concerns. If possible, walking the flight path is a great idea.

  • Check for flight obstacles like trees, phone or power cables, light poles, etc. and discuss them with the Pilot.
  • If the location is not a closed set (locked down so that no one can intrude during the flight), make yourself aware of any entry points such as roads, trails, doors, etc. that you will need to keep an eye on during the flight.
  • If you’re shooting somewhere that cannot be locked down at all (such as events or public spaces), be aware of bystanders. Most will be respectful and are just happy to see a flying camera, but there’s always the chance of a belligerent, thoughtless, or intoxicated bystander who may wish harm to the ship. If you have concerns about any bystanders, it is usually wise to politely approach them, explain what you’re shooting, and ask them to keep a respectful distance from the ship. It also doesn’t hurt to drop a line about how much the ship and camera cost, as that usually sobers up anyone with plans for mischief.
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  • Assess the airspace. You should check for three types of hazards: Full-size aircraft, birds, and other multi rotors.
    • Although FAA regulation will keep you far enough away from airports, you should also check for private landing pads such as those at hospitals. If you become aware of a possible airspace conflict, make effort to establish contact with anyone in control of the landing area.
    • The Octo: King of the skies, at least until a mob of birds shows up.

      The Octo: King of the skies, at least until a mob of birds shows up.

      Birds are another potential airspace hazard. Many birds will keep their distance from loud flying objects, but some will feel threatened and may even try to attack a multi rotor. If there is a large avian presence at your location, be acutely aware of their behavior when the ship is in the air. One small bird can take down a multi rotor in one fell swoop.

    • Check for any other multi rotors that will be occupying the same airspace. Usually if there is another aerial unit on a shoot, you will be made aware of it beforehand and will be in contact with them. However, at events or public spaces you may encounter other hobbyists. If you do see anyone else with a multi rotor, it is wise to politely approach them, let them know what you’re shooting, and ask that they either stand down until you are done or coordinate with you so that the ships are not in dangerous proximity to each other.

Assessing the location is a very important aspect of a Safety Officer’s job. They should work in tandem with the Pilot to ensure the location is ready for a safe and effective flight.


We here at VidMuze Aerial Cinema believe drone safety is always a priority. Check out our work and stay tuned for part 3, which will cover “Maintaining the Ship & Spotting.”

The Multi Rotor Safety Officer – Pt 2 (Assessing the Location)

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