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RC Flight and High Voltage Power Lines.


Wake up! Time to fly!
Recently I have seen more and more videos with people flying near high voltage power lines. My last job was working with the local electric company and one of the safety demonstrations sticks in my head to this day. There was the standard safety warnings about do's and don't near high tension lines as well as common sense practices. The thing that stood out the most is when they cooked a hot dog from the arch of lightning produced when the hot dog was too close to the wire. the video demonstration I posted was not as high voltage as I got to witness as the instructor was pulling a 25 - 30 foot arc from the line with a hot dog on an insulated pole.

These wires over head are usually covered but with squirrels crawling all over them and birds sitting on them these coverings can be breached. It only takes a pin hole in these to allow the electricity to jump from them to anything within range or touching the exposed area.

Should you get near one of these exposed areas or happen to hit a wire and puncture that coating your gear just got fried. That normally wouldn't cause people to stop and think anything more then my quad got zapped and died. The thing is you have a lipo strapped to it which just became a bomb should that power transfer from the lines to your quad. The nightmare scenario is if the lipo explodes with enough force to snap one of them lines ( not to mention the ensuing fireball flying thru the air) Now there is a live high voltage line flopping around becoming a serious hazard to health and safety of everything around them.

Not trying to be the nanny here just a word of caution to those who may not know the potential for really bad things to happen. Here is a video of a few examples just how powerful those lines are and how fast they can become a problem.
Please do not fly your aircraft near these things at all to be sure you never have to go thru an accident with them.



Old and Bold RC PILOT
I definitely agree that you should avoid flying near any powerlines but sadly video demonstrations of the dangers as above are a little misleading. In order for the Voltage to be dangerous there must be current flow and hence a closed circuit.

On HV transmission lines there is considerable separation between conductors because conductors do move and sway in windy weather and the distance must always be above the ionization value of the air between the wires. Here in Aus we actually use drones to inspect HV transmission lines and towers.

The real danger comes in suburbia where the voltages are lower and still lethal. If you fly your drone into the LV suburban power lines the drone can actually fly between the wires or be catapulted between the wires due to collision. The drone reduces the separation between two conductors such that the air, plus drone, no longer properly supply adequate isolation and an arc can ensue.

The warning of the explosive potential of a Lipo when subject to such an electrical arc cannot be overstated and can be so violently explosive that power lines can be severed. Not to mention the pieces of the drone heading in all directions at high velocity.

So in short I agree avoid all powerlines. LV lines are more dangerous to drones than most realise. If you still want to fly near powerlines I am sure the government has an empty room, (with free food), waiting for you as well as a hefty repair bill when you are released. Most insurance policies will be voided due to your reckless actions and hence not pay for any damages you incur.
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