Crossing the English Channel (France-England) and back autonomously



So after having made multiple autonomous flights, from my home to my parents (10km) and from my home to the rc-club (5km), Some clubmembers got my head crazy and kinda challenged me to cross the English Channel autonomously.  But heck, I want my plane back, so I'll be crossing the Channel AND going BACK.

The idea seemed crazy enough at first, but I couldn't get it out of my head and started doing the math (and the $$$ math).

I read about some long distance fpv flights, so there should be airframes capable of such distances.  After quite some thought, reading and consulting, the choise fell on the skywalker X8.  Total grounddistance to cover is about 70km, but to account for some crosswind and other unforseen circumstances, I wanted a range of 100km.



To make a long story short, my X8 covered a total distance of 102km in 1 flight a few weekends back, complete with onboard video, video transmitter for fpv, minimOSD and telemetry.  I still had a little juice left in the batteries when I landed.  This flight was for the most part flown with my rc transmitter off (simulated out of rc range).  Telemetry was always on (in range) but I have successfully flown with telemetry disconnected and groundmodule ID changed (simulated out of range telemetry)

Now the only thing keeping me from realising my challenge is legislation.  I'm a technical guy, so this is not my strongpoint.  Has anyone got some info how to tackle this?  Should I contact French and English air traffic authorities ?  Would I be likely to get permission ?

I plan to fly 97% over sea at an altitude of 100m.  At that height I don't think I pose a threat to any ships nor any airplanes.  Anything else I should consider regarding safety ?  I think the biggest risk I take is losing my plane, which is ofcourse a risk I'm willing to take, but any comments are welcome!


I've uploaded a Tlog file of my 102km flight to droneshare : droneshare 102km flight  

Please disregard the total flighttime on droneshare.  Flighttime was 90 minutes, not 229 minutes as is mentioned on droneshare.


I have found an online weather report for a calais buoy so I can check for a day where wind conditions are favorable (not to much wind and not too cross)


Ofcourse if anyone from England is reading this and is willing to lend a hand by standing watch and giving me a call when he sees the plane, or  maybe even have a pc with telemetry to follow the plane if it gets out of my range, I'll be happy to keep him(her) in the loop.  Maybe Martin from would be interested in giving me a hand ?


Any further advice to help me complete the challenge sucessfully is welcome !






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Comments are closed for this blog post

Comment by Euan Ramsay on July 31, 2013 at 3:41am
Given the "slight disagreement" with the Germans a few years ago, the RAF proved to actually be quite good at taking down "drones" :-)
Comment by Greg Dronsky on July 31, 2013 at 6:03am

You don't need a permission. Just do it. If i lived in France or UK, i'd help you right away. I also fly X8 btw.

Comment by Artem on July 31, 2013 at 3:39pm

foamy on a 100m altitude??? I doubt it would show up on a radar :) but if I were you I would drop it all the way to about 20-30m ....  paint it black and call it stealth x8 :D 

Comment by David Anders on July 31, 2013 at 4:29pm
Hey all, its been a great thread but please keep in mind we don't encourage any illegal behaviour here. I say that with my moderator hat on but also as a very very keen UAV enthusiast. I would hate the action of one to cause a ripple effect screwing it up for everyone else. There have been some very good comments and metgods to do this legally and even with some business support. I wish u4eake all the best with this and I really hope he succeeds - but legally. Thank you u4eake for starting the thread but I'm going to close it for any additional comments. Please do let is know how you get on -successfully or otherwise. People can of course contact u4eake direcly if they wish to contribute.


Comment by Dean Wynton on August 1, 2013 at 1:43am

I know how the permission system works here in the UK.. I hold a UAV operators license and have even flown 50m away from Scotland Yard all with permission from about 8 different authorities at once, I would be willing to try and get this project moving with you if you wish? There are a few things that must be done before even considering asking permission to conduct this planned flight.


Comment by u4eake on August 1, 2013 at 1:48am

Dean I would be delighted !  My club has recently filed a request in Belgium for a model airshow at the beach.  If that  permission comes through, I think it's likely that I can get permission the same way from the Belgian side of things.

A flight from Belgium to UK (one way trip) would be feasible then.

Comment by u4eake on August 1, 2013 at 2:04am

I have received a request from the moderators to close this post for further comments.  

I am VERY gratefull for the help I got to get the legal stuff sorted out for this flight.  That was the main goal of this post.  I am equally gratefull and pleasantly surprised by the enthousiam and support from everyone!

I have a lot of respect for the moderators of this site, so I will obey their friendly request and close the post for further comment.

Gary, the Tlog of my 102km flight is on droneshare (link in main post) and my plane's setup is on page 3 of the comments.  If anyone has any further questions about my setup or other details, do not hesitate to ask me in private.

If anyone is interested in picking up the plane on the UK side in case of a one-way trip from Belgium to UK, please also do not hesitate to contact me.

Thanks again!


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