The historic Stillwater Lift bridge has been undergoing heavy maintenance since it closed to vehicle traffic with the opening of the new St. Croix Crossing Bridge in 2017. Following are various images during the heavy maintenance including when a section of the bridge was removed to allow boats to pass while lift section was down for work.
Boat passes through Stillwater lift bridge during maintenance
Dynamic Fall Weather St. Croix River Inversion Fog Dragon Breath. One of the things I enjoy about living in the Minneapolis St. Paul metropolitan area is the changing weather and seasons, if you don’t like it, wait and will change. That has been the scenario past week or so here the Stillwater St. Croix River valley eastern Minnesota and Western Wisconsin areas. So far in the past week, we have seen highs near 70 lows of freezing frost, clear and windy to wall clouds and tornadoes. We have also seen partly cloudy with calm windows high humidity between rains including inversion fog layers on the St. Croix River.
Some drone-based aerial views above and around Stillwater as well as St. Croix River valley over the past week. These include visits to Stillwater Fire Department open house, Art Fair, fall colors, St. Croix Sailing School High School Regatta in Hudson, new St. Croix Crossing bridge and much more.
From a sUAS or drone flying perspective, strong winds are a challenge and even more so are rain. However, in between those conditions, there have been some great opportunities to go upstairs and gets some different and unique perspective views that past week.
For example, check out the following video that I captured the other evening of inversion fog layer over St. Croix River valley shortly before evening severe storms arrived.
Dynamic fall weather resulted in Layer of Inversion Fog (Dragon Breath) Over St. Croix River flows south under Arcola Soo Line High Bridge towards Stillwater MN.
Following are some photos in various Pictures Over Stillwater photo galleries from the past week (along with others).
Some Tips, Recommendations and Reminders
Keep the weather in mind, head in the clouds and feet on the ground meaning watch the sky along with weather, while you are safe on the ground. Weather can change quickly, so be ready, plan ahead, watch forecasts and be prepared. When you contact any airports or air traffic control for the areas you will be flying (e.g. for those in Stillwater area, the downtown riverfront is controlled airspace), ask for conditions at their location to compare with your own local. If you are flying an sUAS or drone, keep your eyes on the aircraft, if using first-person view (FPV) goggles have one or more visual observers (VO).
Pay attention to surface winds along with those aloft, look around where you are going to be flying. Look at flag poles which way they are pointing, the direction of clouds, smoke from chimneys and other indicators. Also, note that winds can vary at the surface as well as a few feet to hundreds of feet up in the air. Another consideration is how the windows can be more turbulent around buildings, bluffs, hills and other structures, something to keep in mind. Note that while your drone may have automation and is fine once up in the air (watch out for fly-away during high winds), the landing may be a challenge. Likewise, not if, rather what happens when your software based automation AI enabled drone stops working and you need to land manually? How will you avoid a crash? The answer is being prepared.
Something I have noticed is that changing weather, the birds can be an indicator of when to land or get out-of-the-way if you are flying FPV mode with no VO, how will you see the birds behind or on your sides? Likewise, keep the aircraft in visual line of sight (e.g. don’t fly beyond where you can see it) so that you can recall quickly before developing weather has an impact. Also if you are using filters, adjust accordingly for example if cloudy try an ND4. Have fun, however, be prepared, be safe.