Mount Savage Windmills WDOT 11.20.2015 Part 1

Mount Savage Windmills

Riding to the Windmills
Riding to the Windmills

In the early morning hours November 20, 2015 we started on our next WooFDriver Tour. We all met at the house at 2AM, but it took us about 2 hours of packing and getting ready before we could officially roll out and get on the road. We were heading to Mount. Savage Maryland. We were headed to ride the GAP (Great Allegheny Passage) Trail but first wanted to catch the area near there where a some of the mountains are lined with an enormous row of windmills that tower over the communities and can be seen from really from all around. Our intension was to use Google Maps as a way to find how to get there, by scoping out an area so we could get really close to them, if not, almost on top of them, and fly the AirWOOF One drone.

Challenges in Getting There

The first route that Google Maps showed us, didn’t quite work out as we planned, once we got there we found a gate that was pretty official that they didn’t want you back there. So we had to scrap that idea; but, it still worked as a good meeting place to meet Guy of the WooFDriver Pit Crew. As Guy lives in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia and it was closer for him to meet us on site then it would be for him to travel all the way to my home base.

Once we discovered we couldn’t get through with our original road to the windmills we were lucky enough to spot another road that was showing up on Google Maps as having access to another part where the windmills were. At the time that seemed like a good second option, but unfortunately, it was a pretty rough ride.

The trail was a WILD dirt road that probably wasn’t meant to be ridden, at least not by a car!  We got about a quarter of a mile in and found that was about as far as we could go. We put our trucks in four-wheel drive, as Rhett tried to get out and clear the path, by moving the braches that were blocking the road. It looked like we would be able to get through but few came upon some large trees that were down and there was just no way of getting by them. What made this even more of a challenge was the fact that we were racing against the clock to make it to the sunrise so we could get the sun coming up by the windmills.

At this point it looked like we were in pretty bad shape, so we turned around and tried to back out of the area, which took a little bit more time, but we were still able to get out and back on the road. While we were doing all this we were spotted by a local farmer that probably owned one of the farms that we were behind. Once he saw we were having some trouble and also spotted the bikes on top of our car. He asked us if we were trying to locate the bike trail, and then told us not to worry, everyone always tries this area to  get there.

Due to the time crunch, we let him believe that all we were doing was some biking, as we didn’t have time to get into the whole story, and he was kind enough to point us in the right direction. This road, was by far the winning ticket it really got us right in there to where we wanted to go right before the sunrise.

Flying the Drone

Thankfully, we were able to get to our destination in the nick of time to get the AirWOOF 1up in the air and get some beautiful shots of the sun rise. At this point, we kept the dogs in the truck which is great for us as it lets us our site seeing, and it’s a great time for them to get some rest in for the pending run.

ShawMan, who is the most experienced pilot out of us all, was flying AirWOOF 1 in control and everything was going great until the wind picked up and the drone became harder to control. Maybe we should have figured it was kind of windy there as that’s probably why they built the windmills there, LOL!! At one point he said “You know what, I’m losing it, the wind is carrying the drone a little bit, I’m, going to return it back to base”; unfortunately, him getting it back to home base wasn’t as easy as we thought it would be.

AirWOOF 1, is a pretty intuitive machine, and it has many neat features such as GPS tracking, the ability to take video of everything it’s looking at and give us the video feeds while it is in the air. It also tells us when it’s getting low on battery, which happened to be the case as it was fighting the head winds trying to get back to us to land.

We tasked Rhett with keeping an eye on it as he is the most physical of the group and we knew he might need to chase it down somewhere in the woods.  But it was slipping away fast and out of sight as the wind was taking over. We had GPS location of where it’s located, and it showed us it was getting further and further away. We had to try and recover it so we had to make some quick decisions.

We jumped into the truck, Shawman, Chris P and myself to try and chase it down! Shawman had the controls and he was trying to control it while ChrisP drove the truck. We could see the last destination of the drone before we lost contact with it and proceeded to drive in that direction. As we drove we did reestablish communication with it, but we were getting the warning of “warning, battery low battery low”. As we knew that the drone would land on its own when it needs to but we were trying to decide if we should just let it do it itself or if we should make it land where we know where it was. We lost that opportunity real quick as it than informed us it had landed…..

We arrived at the location AirWOOF 1 communicated to us it had landed. And incredibly enough it was there!!  It actually looked like it had landed on a dirt pile, avoiding the trees. Unfortunately we think in than rolled down the dirt pile and busted itself a little bit, luckily no major damage. It’s so amazing the technology that it’s so intuitive that will tell you were it is and once it lands it’s like a treasure hunt to recover it.

We were able to get the video footage off of it, it did stop recording once it was getting close to the battery being dead but there was still some AWESOME shots!. Guy,Fatboy, and Rhett stayed back at the windmills while we were recovering the drone. We will have the video of what we got, as well as the second part of the story shortly!! Stay Tuned….

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