I signed up for a workshop with http://www.utadventure.com. I took a couple of days to drive out to Salt Lake City where I joined the tour. The tour was 7 days and we shot around Salt Lake City, Moab and Green River. After that I took several days to return home.

I bought a DJI Mavic mini to try out on this trip. I used it once in my backyard before heading out on this trip. My backyard is full of things to snag a drone and I did manage to crash into my palo verde tree. I also live near a flight path and the drone was restricted on how high I could fly it.

My first adventures were in Goblin Valley. Most parks are closed to the use of drones. At Goblin valley you can buy a permit for their use. There was a lot more space here to work in. I found out that when the Mavic controller is not connected to the internet that it’s range is automatically limited. For the most part that was OK out here, but I don’t think I quiet got how to gracefully maneuver from being at the edge of my horizontal limits. I also seemed to have some issues where it incorrectly said I was too far away when the drone was less than 20 feet away.

I tried several flights over a couple of visits and got more adventuresome each time. My first flight stayed above the Goblins area and I just tested the controls. With each visit I took longer flights and got down into the valley and maneuvered around some of the formations.

Below is a 5 minute video of flying in Goblin Valley.

My second drone workout was at the abandoned waterpark in Newberry Springs. These were my longest flights using up at least one battery. It also was in the 90’s there and I had the drone complain it was overheating. I had some winds here that I was sheltered from at Goblin Valley. This became important when I transitioned from being sheltered in the buildings and trying to exit through a doorway.

I had internet connectivity and no restrictions. I could definitely get the drone higher than I was comfortable with as it was very easy to loose visual connection. Like trying to use the camera on my cellphone trying to control the drone was difficult in the bright sun. The glare on the screen was terrible if I wasn’t in the shade. Trying to shade the screen so I could see where I was flying as well as trying to keep on eye on the was not much fun. I had the battery run low at one point and it automatically returns to the place it was launched from. I happened to have launched the drone in a building and it was most likely going to crash into the roof of that building.

Below is a 5min video made from several different flights.

I drove home through Zion Park. Here is what the traffic was like going through the tunnel from the east side. Turns out this was a free weekend celebrating the creating of the National Parks. I think that increased the crowds.