Martin was sent off to Kos by Good Morning Britain to cover the migrant crisis that was in danger of swamping the pretty little island a minor favourite with holiday-makers from all over Europe.
Hummingbird 2 one of our Phantoms equipped with a GoPro was all safely packed up and accompanied him on the trip.
It was a very busy time filming. There was a little bit of time where the Hummingbird could be put into the air.
Thinking “safe and legal” Martin went off to the police station to ask about permission to film the big cruise liner that was tied up in the port. It was going to be used as a registration place and accommodation for the migrants that were arriving daily on a variety of small boats. The small police station had been the scene of some angry altercations between the Greek police and a few of the frustrated refugees. Now though it was all pretty quiet. There were a fair number of weather beaten men hanging around lounging in the sun, talking and making calls on their mobiles.
A senior officer with pretty good English said that it would be no problem to film the boat or in fact anything else except the police station itself. He was pretty clear that filming that would be a big problem. His name was a rather complex Greek one, which he helpfully typed into Martin’s phone.
The next step was to check with the Port Authority that it would be possible to take off and land not too far from the boat. The guy there said that there should be someone down near the boat that would help.
Sure enough at the gate to the port a tall fit looking guy with short-cropped hair and in an official uniform said that it would be OK to fly but the take off area would need to be outside the gates in the large parking area that is also part of the port. Well what he actually said through hearty laughter was that Martin could do and not to worry he would not shoot it out of the sky.
That was great. Permission granted and a good place to take off form it was not the ideal spot because it was in an area that could be accessed by the public, but it was safe and there was a little area behind some metal crowd control barriers that would give extra separation.
There was not time to get the flying done at that minute because there was other filming to be done with migrants, tourists and expats. So off Martin went with Good Morning Britain correspondent Jonathan Swain to do some interviews and shooting.
Later on in the early evening as the sun was starting its slow decent Martin went back to the port to get the shots of the cruise ship. A very happy and slightly amused official said that he’d call to confirm that it was OK to carry on when Martin told him what he was about to do. He said that it would be fine and it was just a formality and was a bit surprised by the fact that permission had even been sought.
He had a fairly long conversation on the phone, the tone of which lead Martin to believe that it was not good news. Although he could not understand what was being said, apart from the odd word or two it seemed clear that this official at the gate was putting up a pretty good argument.
He came of the phone and with obvious disbelief he said that he could not let the flight go ahead. During the course of this brief conversation he said, “This in Greece not Great Britain you should just have done it. No one would have bothered!”
Not to be defeated Martin went off to the Port Authority again to see if he could reverse the decision.
After a conversation with the acting Harbour Master things were a little better; The compromise was that as long as the drone did not fly too close to the ship with all the shots done from the shore side it would be OK. It was far from the ideal result but at least some shots were possible, sadly not the swooping shots over the boat or close ups of the migrants leaning on the rails on the decks of the ship.
After doing a couple of shots of the ship the sun was getting lower in the sky. Hummingbird 2 relocated to the shore area of the town that had turned into a long thin campsite where the refugees had pitched the tents provided by various charities and the Greek government.
Fighting against the fading light he managed to do some tracking shots that illustrated the extent of problem of the tents on the promenade and narrow pebbly beach.
Now it was time to get the main material back to London and do some technical tests for the live broadcasts coming up in a few hours.
It was late into the night when Martin was able to turn his attention to getting the aerial shots back to Good Morning Britain via the Internet.
On the flight home Martin met the CNN “drone guy” Lewis and had a good chat about UAVs and there use in news etc. Lewis had been sent out with the sole role of operating his drones. Oh the luxury of not having to do all the other shooting and editing!