vancouver blog

Aerial Video Of Sea To Sky Highway

What better way to spend your time than filming a piece of a road with a drone.. am I right!? Well, it probably sounds boring, maybe for some, but anyone that can appreciate a beautiful landscape might enjoy this minute of footage that I shot a month back.

I only made two stops along the highway to finish this. Anyone that knows the Sea to Sky Highway will know that there's so much left out, but I was in a rush to get to Whistler and well it felt weird filming a road.

So this is my second drone video. I love the colours much more than my first drone video, I'm definitely still learning what looks good and what's clunky and ugly to watch. This video is much more smooth, natural and rich! I can't wait to film more soon before Summer ends!


fly drone vancouver

Where Can I fly my Drone in Vancouver?

Scroll to bottom for update.

So where can we fly our drones in Vancouver? Long story short.. Nowhere.

Short story long.. last week Transport Minister for Canada announced some new long awaited and needed laws to keep drone users in check. Below is a basic over view of the new drone flying laws.


  • higher than 90 m above the ground
  • closer than 75 m from buildings, vehicles, vessels, animals, people/crowds, etc.
  • closer than nine km from the centre of an aerodrome (any airport, heliport, seaplane base or anywhere that aircraft take-off and land)
  • within controlled or restricted airspace
  • within nine km of a forest fire
  • where it could interfere with police or first responders
  • at night or in clouds
  • if you can’t keep it in sight at all times
  • if you are not within 500 m of your drone
  • if your name, address, and telephone number are not clearly marked on your drone.

To a drone pilot, a bunch of these rules make sense. Some are are even too light, others are maybe a bit too tough but overall they will be able to still enjoy being a recreational drone user, or keep their business going. To drone users in the Greater Vancouver area specifically, they are forced to wonder if it's all worth it. The new rules basically block the whole area from being flown in, see screenshot below.

Drone fly vancouver 01

Drawing out aviation rules must have been of the ministers desk for a long time with pressure from airports and such to get these rules in place. There's no debate that clear and strict rules were needed as there are idiots buying drones and doing daft things with them, there are even adults buying these things for their children! Some people think they are toys, some people think they're for spying and some people think they are for harm. Drones are for videography and photography. Recently they've been used to save lives in Rawanda and Madagascar, they are helping first responders, they are helping scientists gain more information, they are now being used in the agriculture trade and many many more!

The Canadian Transport Minister, Marc Garneau, is a literal hero, a man that has done things and seen things that would blow your mind. He was an astronaut, an explorer, you would think he would understand the importance of finding balance in these laws. I am not disrespecting this man, but his team have pieced together rules that are going to limit creativity, slow down trade and effect a lot of businesses with in the Greater Vancouver area. It feels weird to say I am upset by this, but I genuinely am. I've been learning to fly for over a year and it's my favourite hobby. I wait all week to go out on Saturday's to fly and take photos, and it's been taken away because of rules that are out of proportion. Drones vancouver

The image above is rather depressing. The only place to fly is Wreck Beach and you can't if someone is there, which is always. I think any non-flyer can see that these rules are way over the top. There are so many safe places to fly in this area, but everywhere just been jammed into a no fly zone by thoughtless laws. I say thoughtless, but they're not really. If you did take a look through the full list of laws you'll see they have been put together with a lot of time and effort, they just happen to make it impossible to fly.

Drone flying vancouver

Please don't use these images as a reference as to where you can and can't fly,  I did not mark out the whole list of airports, air harbours, heliports etc. I just didn't have time to do them all so there are more to add to this map.

So what does it mean for drone flyers in Vancouver? I can't speak for anyone but I'm positive users will find it difficult to stick to these rules. For one, there was no map supplied by the government to highlight where you can and cannot fly so there's no help from government to avoid breaking their laws.

There are of course ways to get an exemption to fly your aircraft within these parameters, but they make it more than difficult to get an exemption, in fact i'm still waiting on word back from them asking for more details. A quick browse through this will give you a glimpse into what's expected, including liability insurance of up to $100,000, which seems a bit low when our drones are such dangerous objects, after all a tiny drone can take down an airplane. This is not a casual process. Going out at the weekend for a fly is over. A spontaneous fly on a beautiful day is over.

What's next for me.. I'm not sure. I don't have time or money to complete pilot courses. I don't have time on weekends to drive out of the no fly zones every time I want to fly, but I don't think I'm done flying, it'll be coming with me wherever I go.

If you want to help support getting fair and safe laws for drones then check out NODE. Drone giants, DJI, have helped get this movement up and running and they are looking for fair treatment to drone pilots. Together we can make sure drones only take off in the hands of responsible pilots and are used in safe zones and continue to serve the world for the better.


Article on how to find the balance

Twitter reactions

This is a very worrying one...

Some thoughts from Youtuber iN SIGHT which also has an interesting comment section.


After doing all this I found a tool on the National Research Council Canada site that shows you where you can and can not fly. View if you dare.


Transport Canada recently updated their tight rules, which is a big surprise, but great news!

You can now fly your drone:

  • Within 90 m above the ground or lower 30m away from vehicles, vessels, and the public (if your drone weighs more than 250g up to 1kg)
  • 75m away from vehicles, vessels, and the public (if your drone weighs more than 1kg up to 35kg)
  • 5.5km from aerodromes (any airport, seaplane base, or areas where aircraft take-off and land)
  • 1.8km away from heliports or aerodromes used exclusively by helicopters outside of controlled or restricted airspace At least 9 km away from a natural hazard or disaster area
  • Away from areas where it could interfere with police or first responders
  • During the day and not in clouds Within your sight at all times
  • Within 500 m of yourself or closer Only if clearly marked with your name, address and telephone number

The most notable changes are:

  • The elimination of distance restrictions to buildings and animals
  • The reduction of distance restrictions to vehicles, vessels and the public for drones weighing more than 250 grams but less than 1kg
  • The reduction of distance restrictions to aerodromes and heliports for drones weighing up to 35kg

But... still nowhere.

drone vancouver

You can read more here.

sasamat bc canada drone

A trip to Sasamat Lake with my drone

I've been worried that coming into Fall/Winter that I wouldn't get to bring my drone out as much because of the weather and well because it's just not as beautiful outside. I was wrong about one of those things. It sure has rained a lot and that's a definite no for flying, but as far as it being less beautiful outside, I was very wrong. I will never get tired or seeing the leaves change colour, mist gather on mountains and the rain hit off the trees. BC is incredibly beautiful in every season and right now I feel that this weather makes it even more interesting to explore and photograph. So that's what brought me to Sasamat Lake. After visiting there a few times in the Summer I thought I'd drop in and see how it looked and it really is a beautiful sight.

I really wish I'd have spent more time taking footage. I'd have liked more close up shots and a few very distant shots from high up. I feel like there's no imagery to understand the scale and size of the lake and also there's no real personal vibe. But I'm still learning so hopefully I remember what I've learned here for the next time.

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sasamat lake port moody bc

sasamat lake port moody bc

sasamat lake port moody bc

bc drone photography sasamat lake

sasamat lake port moody bc

sasamat lake port moody bc drone phantom dji

canucks vancouver

A Weekend in Vancouver

hacksaw-ridge-poster-vancouverLast Thursday I got an invite to watch one of the first screenings of a movie called Hacksaw Ridge. At first the title didn't ring any bells, but once I heard who directed it I remembered reading an interesting article about how it has changed Hollywood's perception of Mel Gibson. After Gibson's racist outbursts around a decade ago he kinda got put on the naughty list. The list that means nobody in Hollywood will work with you or fund your movies. But here we are in 2016 and all seems to be forgiven. This inspiring, epic, heroic.. masterpiece.. will churn your stomach and reduce you to tears. The movie is based upon true events and will tug at every emotion. If you only watch one movie this year, make it this one. Big thanks to Elevation Pictures and NEWS1130 for the tickets!

Friday night was a weird one. I DJ a 90s night in Downtown and it's always super busy, but this weekend was Halloween! Unfortunately Halloween lands on a Monday, so when do people decide to go party.. on Monday? Well everyone has work that day and the following day, so that's doubtful. Maybe Saturday? Well that sucks because it means Friday won't be busy. Or do they party the whole weekend? Well as it turns out everyone parties at different times. Vancouver doesn't have the biggest party scene in Canada that's for sure, but it sure does have it's moments, this Halloween wasn't one of them. The weekend really just showed a thin spread of Halloween party goers span out across the whole weekend and it didn't really blow up at any point.

Norma Bates at Trolls in Horseshoe Bay - Screenshot courtesy of A&E Network
Norma Bates at Trolls in Horseshoe Bay - By A&E Network

The next day I went for a drive to Horseshoe Bay. I've been here a lot, in fact it's the first place I ever visited outside of Vancouver when I first arrived. A few months back I seen Bates Motel set up for a shoot at Troll's Restaurant and ever since then that's where I go to eat when at Horseshoe Bay. Lame? A little bit, but I do love Bates Motel as you probably know if you have been near my Instagram. Saturday Evening I went to see the Canucks take on the Washington Capitals with my new friend Farouk (My buddies father, a 50 something year old from Baghdad, we've a lot in common). We got some pretty sweet seats close to the action and spent $5 on a bottle of water. The scores didn't really reflect the game tbh, final score was 5-2 to Caps, but it was a good game to watch and it's always exciting being in the arena.

Bates Motel Photo by Panicdots
Drone shot of Bates Motel - Photo by Panicdots

Sundays here aren't like Sundays at home, it's not a day of rest. Granted it is a bit more chilled out as everyone is going back to work the next day, but it's not like at home where all the stores are closed and eating out and entertainment is very limited. So I decided to take my drone out for a fly at Sasamat Lake. I rented a car, packed all my shit together and stopped at Timmy's for coffee. That's me locked, loaded and ready for a fun flight with El Taco (El Taco is the name of my drone, also known as T-bird). I got to Sasamat lake and pop open my backpack and to my horror I have forgotten to bring my battery. I felt ashamed of myself, how could I be so stupid? I quickly Google to find the nearest Best Buy and there's one close. I battle with my conscious about paying $200 for another battery or just going. And even if I get a new battery will it have any charge in it? I arrived at Best Buy and I bought the battery. This day might not be wasted. It all depends on on whether the battery comes charged or not. I ripped open the box and peeled away the protective foam that hugs the battery. Now to test it.. it's dead. Game over. It was time to go home. Everything sucks.  All is lost in the world.. until I seen this on Hastings and everything made sense. As one door closes another door opens. It's a godamn real life Bob's Burgers. I'm going today for something and I can not wait!

vancouver bobs burgers what up hot dog
The Real "Bob's Burgers" on Hastings - Photo by Panicdots

vancouver west end panicdots

Welcome back, me.

After a two year hiatus, I've decided to start my blogging again. I'm sure you... is there even anyone still there? If there is, then great, I love the idea of someone reading and enjoying the content that I post, but if there's nobody there, well I guess that's okay too.. I guess any blog is first and foremost about having somewhere to write your thoughts and create content that makes you happy. Hopefully other people find it interesting, I know I do and that's why I do it. Where was I? Ohh yes... I'm sure you are super excited for life right now that panicdots has returned.

So a two year hiatus, a lot has happened in two years. I now live in the beautiful province of British Columbia in Canada. In particular the city of Vancouver. I've been here for slightly over two years and only yesterday I received the news that I will be getting permanent residency. That's a massive deal and it's crazy how lucky I am that Canada wants me, it feels pretty awesome. I think this is partly the reason why I started my blog back today. It very comforting to know my future is safe here in Canada.

I think this time "panicdots" will be a lot different than before. Right now I'm really into creating content with my camera and my quad-copter so I really want to post that and I managed to get invited to a private screening of Mel Gibson's "Hacksaw Ridge" tonight so I really want to blog about that. Really there'll be no theme, but everything will be from me and my experience. So photos, videos, words used will be mine unless stated. I should also take this opportunity to remind everyone, if you hadn't noticed already, that I'm a terrible writer. My spelling, grammar, punctuation and everything else is pretty weak. I'm not here to win writing awards, I'm just enjoying myself.

On that note, I will go and make some tea, watch House (is Wilson going to die?) and then sleep.

(Header photo is from outside my apartment in West End)