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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Comment by Graham Dyer on July 25, 2013 at 1:42pm

Comment by Graham Dyer on July 25, 2013 at 1:56pm

...the Olympics were on at the time so maybe it would be easier to get permission now

Comment by Gary McCray on July 25, 2013 at 2:00pm

Between the French and the English bureaucracies I would guess you stand very little chance of getting official permission to do this.

Nobody in government is ever willing to stick their neck out unless there is something in it for them.

There is no precedent for this and unless you can convince them that somehow both governments are going to get positive feedback they are unlikely to be either sympathetic or helpful.

I would guess at the very least they would require you to follow it in line of sight with a boat and ready to take back manual control at a moments notice if anything went wrong, or if necessary to shoot it out of the sky.

Something that no doubt either the French or English airforce would be happy to do for you while charging you for scrambling a squadron of jets and for the ammunition they expended.

In the United States we have an International boundry at 12 miles that requires a previous FAA approved flight plan to have been filed to cross it.

The consequences of doing this are about as I have listed above they scramble 2 or 3 jets to identify your Cessna 150, ground you. possibly confiscate your airplane and charge you for the interception (basically if you own your house outright, you won't anymore afterwards).

My guess is both the British and the French have a similar arrangement.

Comment by Gary Mortimer on July 25, 2013 at 2:02pm

I would not try it without permission. Pull up a sandbag, back in the day when I was in the RAF some French Airforce jets came to be rotten to us during an exercise and French air traffic would not let them back! Without permission the flight is illegal there are rules in Europe that you could be prosecuted under. But of course you should ask you never know!

Comment by Hasufel on July 25, 2013 at 2:56pm

24:40 in the youtube video.

Comment by Hasufel on July 25, 2013 at 2:59pm
Comment by Hasufel on July 25, 2013 at 3:01pm

And here are the steps to require an authorization:

Comment by Justin M on July 25, 2013 at 3:08pm

Ask for Pardon, Not Permission

Comment by Gary Mortimer on July 25, 2013 at 3:17pm

Trouble with that Justin is there are further rules coming in shortly that will result in a hefty fine or prison time if you can't pay it. I am talking about more money than is currently being levied at someone in America and I am under a news embargo for reporting the proposed numbers. 

Comment by Justin M on July 25, 2013 at 3:26pm

Foolish comment - I know - authorities will confiscate your plane too

I wonder if Gibraltar to Benzu, Spain (Morocca Side) 18 km will be any easier - too far away logistically

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