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 http://www.buildyourowndrone.co.uk/ would be interested in giving me a hand ?


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






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  • 100KM

    Without permission is a possibility too.  But it needs careful consideration.  The X8 might also loose gps or a servo and not turn when it reaches England and fly into England to crash somewhere 50km inland when it's batteries are drained.

    Still I might be able to insure myself against that.

    What I fear most is the scenario where the X8 is detected as an unidentified incoming aircraft and fighters are scrambled to intercept and I'm presented with the bill...

  • Personally IDE just do it without permission. James may tried it and they said no. What's the worse that will happen. Crash into the sea. No one to hurt,just do it u only live once.
  • 100KM

    See the comment of Hasufel above:

    Article 6.1 of http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/jopdf/common/jo_pdf.jsp?numJO=0&d... states that "one cannot operate an aircraft from an moving vehicle". (in French)

  • Hi Reto,

    Do you have some reference regarding the impossibility for french aeromodelers to pilot their model from a moving vehicle ? I cannot find it.

  • 100KM

    Euan: It might not be so easy to outsmart the law. There are several ideas behind the LOS rule.

    The principle is: The safety of the RC plane shall not depend on any additional devices than the "standard" RC equipment.


    - The pilot must always be able to control the RC aircraft manually, even if the AP or FPV equipment fails.

    - The pilot must not be dependant on binoculars, a telescope or other "complex" equipment. Standard glasses are the only visual aid allowed.

    - The pilot must perform separation from other air traffic on plain eye, not by any devices (e.g. TCAS or cameras).

    In case of an accident you will have troubles convincing a judge you are not guilty having followed the word of a certain isolated paragraph, but not the idea, principle and spirit of the law.

    I do not see the principle behind the French ban of controlling out of a moving vehicle. It stands in contrast to the French being the first to allow long distance sUAS in their airspace.

  • @JustinM

    Yes, much behind the scenes wrangling was done to get that flight to occur, but it stands as precedent. Sure, it's a lot harder for a hobbyist to go this route, but in some ways its also easier, because you can see what needs to be done (and the sorts of issues that need to be resolved). If one is serious about such endeavours, then one finds a way.

  • Haaa, the last time I forgot the required permission, my plane simply disappeared without a trace. Telemetry gone from one second to the next, and at the farmland where it should have dropped, not a trace. Still wonder what happened.

  • hi and good luck .

    if you got the ferry to france ,and went for a fly on the beach ,it would be a shame if your

    TX battery went flat and your X8 APM return to home kicked in (set to your club field of course with waiting club member in attendance )  ?


  • Simple - sail out to mid channel and stop. You will have LOS of both France and Dover on a clear day. Get someone to hand launch at one end, and someone else to collect on the other end.


    Massive over simplification obviously, but worth considering.

  • 100KM

    I just read the new french legislation of 2012, Article 6.1. Hard to believe, but they really seem to ban operating an RC aircraft from another moving vehicle.

    Is anyone aware of similar restrictions in other countries?

    In the US, there are even competitions based on piloting out of a car: RC Cross Country Soaring

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