Let’s Go Flying

We’re going to have fun today.  I like to mix things up from time to time, and trust you’ll enjoy the aerial tour you’re about to embark upon.  If you’re in a hurry, skip the words and just look at the photos, that’s really what today’s post is all about.  Normal programming will return next week.

Piedmont Park & Midtown Skyline – Atlanta

Today, we’re going flying. I’m hoping to develop drone photography as a semi-serious hobby post-retirement, and I thought you’d enjoy seeing how my early experiments have turned out.  It’s fun to fly a drone and I’m enjoying the process of learning how to work with my new toy high-tech flying photographic machine.

View today’s post as an example of how to be intentional in developing new hobbies for retirement and think about hobbies you’d like to develop yourself.  Then, get started!

Develop new hobbies for retirement. Be Curious. Explore. Fly A Drone! Click To Tweet

An Aerial Tour Of Piedmont Park

Today, I’m taking you on An Aerial Tour of two locales.  First, we’ll visit Piedmont Park in Atlanta, GA, where the flight plan didn’t end well (more on that in a minute).

Second, we’ll go to my retirement mountain town of Blue Ridge, GA, where I had fun flying the drone around our gorgeous town.

We start with an aerial video taken at Piedmont Park on a recent, beautiful October afternoon (it’s only 56 seconds long, so buckle your seat belt and enjoy this short flight!):

The flight over Piedmont Park was fantastic, and I was very pleased with the photographs and video I was able to capture during my flight.

Unfortunately, the flight didn’t end well.  We’ll chalk it up to “Learning Curve” (be willing to fail!).  The photo below is my least favorite from the day and shows what happens when you try to fly your drone in the wind…

See anything missing? How about 2 rotors….

Note to self:  be careful flying in the wind, it has a nasty habit of throwing your bird into the trees.

I ended up crashing my drone on the return flight from the video shown above. I was bringing the drone in for a landing near the edge of the pond, and I tried to squeeze it down into too small a clearing through the trees.  Mother Nature & Mr. Murphy interceded at precisely the wrong moment, and the flying craft was sent sideways into a group of trees.

The result was immediate and harsh. Rotors shredded, the drone nosedived into the ground. Click To Tweet

I was able to retrieve the downed drone and was pleased to see that only the rotors were damaged (um…obliterated?).  I’ve got extra rotors at home, so it will live to fly another day.  Since my flying was over for the day, I decided to take a nice 3 mile run throughout the park.

By the way, Piedmont Park is a lovely spot, if you ever get to Atlanta it’s worth a few hours of your time.

An Aerial Tour of Blue Ridge

Blue Ridge, GA is a beautiful mountain town on the Southern edge of the Appalachian Mountain Range.  I’m proud to call it “Home”. The Appalachian Trail starts nearby on Springer Mountain, and the region is a wonderful place to spend some time.  Like….an entire retirement!  I can’t wait to be there full time, this City Apartment living gets old after a while!

When I first got my drone, I immediately started playing with it in Blue Ridge and I’m sharing the results with you below.  Following are my two favorites drone photos taken in Blue Ridge.  I hope you enjoy!

Lake Blue Ridge, TVA Dam & Toccoa River.  A true mountain paradise.

The picture above means a lot to me.  Two of the things I really love about living in Blue Ridge are the access to Lake Blue Ridge and the trout fishing in the Toccoa River.  I swim in the Lake, and I fish in the River.   Seems appropriate to have both the lake and the river in one photo!  It was the first photo I shot with my drone, and I’ll forever cherish it!  (For those wondering, yes it is nerve-racking when you fly your drone for the first time.  It gets easier with practice, but I had NO idea what I was doing when I took the photograph above. I’m pleased with the result, though!)

Downtown Blue Ridge. See the train?

Downtown Blue Ridge is a special place, and my wife and I spend every Saturday in “The Barking Lot” on Main Street volunteering at a weekly pet adoption event held by Tri-State Pet Rescue.  If you know where to look, that spot is in the photo above.  I also like the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, which can be seen in the center of the picture above.  The train runs two scenic tours a day up into Tennessee (we can hear the train’s whistle from our cabin, and we know the time of day by hearing the whistle announcing the train’s departure/arrival!). The train’s a popular thing for the tourists to do – funny that we’ve never done it.

The Beautiful Lake Blue Ridge – my personal swimming pool

Last but not least, the lake I’m thankful to have just minutes from my house.  Lake Blue Ridge.

(BTW, my Outdoor Swimming Streak is still alive – Mar 1 through Oct 18.   33 straight weeks with at least 1 swim outside EVERY SINGLE WEEK!  From Lake Michigan to Zurich, Switzerland to Bahrain to Lake Blue Ridge, and you can see it all here for the proof!)

Bottom line:  Blue Ridge is a special town, and I’m happy to call it home.


Find something that interests you, and start exploring.  A few short months ago, I knew nothing about flying drones.  Today, I’m posting an article with photos and videos I’ve created.  In a few weeks, I’m taking our “AV Guy” from work out to lunch to get some hints on video editing (he’s the guy who took this drone video of me swimming across a lake).

Another example of developing an interest is my love of cold water swimming, an area in which I had no experience just 12 short months ago, but is now a twice-annual challenge (March & November) to keep me motivated as I work toward being Younger Next Year. 

For my wife, it’s pottery.  She recently took a class and fell in love.  That’s EXACTLY what we should all be doing.

Try Something, Try Anything. Push Your Limits, Explore, and Be Curious! Click To Tweet

The point of this post is to encourage you to explore.  To Be Curious. To try new things. To swim in cold water. To be willing to fail.  To crash your drone.  To destroy your clay. To share your drone pictures with the world.

Life seems somehow better when you’re pushing the limits, trying new things, testing yourself.

Give it a go.

It may just help you to help me in achieving the goal of my blog:

Helping People Achieve A Great Retirement.



  1. Thank you for sharing, Fritz! Drones can capture such amazing shots!

    I will have to check out Piedmont Park the next time I am in Atlanta. And Blue Ridge + Blue Ridge Lake… what a wonderful looking area 🙂 Keep curious!

  2. You should come visit us, Fritz. We’ll go to Lake Superior where you can enjoy some real deal cold water swimming. 🙂 Nothing quite like it…

    I always thought of drones as sort of an invasion of privacy. I’m glad to see you’ve taken this hobby on with noble intentions (not that I’d expect you to spy on the Frugalwoods farm or anything…)

    1. Lake Superior is, indeed, a beautiful (and cold) lake, Cubert! We visited the UP and the Keewenaw Penisula a few years back before I knew I loved cold water swimming. Definitely on our bucket list for retirement travel! I’m careful when flying the drone to not be “invasive”, funny how there are strong mixed opinions on drones. For now, I’ll enjoy flying (until Big Brother says I can’t!). And yes, the Frugalwoods farm is safe for now!

  3. Beautiful! Just beautiful. I’m sure glad you’re handy with those rotors. I thought for sure you were going to say the drone was totally/permanently damaged.

    Have fun at FinCon! Can’t wait to hear all about it.

  4. This is a truly inspiring post, Fritz. Retirement is all about having a positive mindset….set oneself a new exciting challenge each month and you will enjoy a fulfilling retirement. I published a post with a similar message a few months back, which introduced readers to my top ten retirement hobbies. Looking forward to seeing more drone footage of your beautiful State.

  5. Where do I sign up for a day of fishing, swimming, mountain biking and flying? Could be another good side biz for you.

  6. Beautiful shots Fritz, thanks for the post. I’m an amateur photographer and I’ve considered buying a drone previously. Would you mind sharing your setup (equipment)? Very impressed with the video and images you shared. Thanks.

  7. Let me also request which model drone you selected. I’m looking to buy one for my husband’s 40th birthday present and am researching…

  8. “Retirement” should be redefined as “Do what matters to you” phase and it starts whenever you don’t have to work for money. Drones are a lot of fun and the pictures are great. When I first started, I accidentally took the drone off of “GPS” mode and got thoroughly confused in direction of flight and flew it right into a tall pine tree across the street from me. It was up there, blinking at me, 60 feet off the ground. I had to call a tree service to get it down ($400). The guy said he does more drone rescues now than kitten rescues!

    Since then, I try to fly near open bodies of water or field.

    Moral of the story: Keep it in GPS mode and find an open space to fly.

  9. Well look at you, great shots Fritz! Sorry, the drone took a little damage. Where will your cold water swim be in November? I’m glad to hear Jackie found something she enjoys. Fun stuff!

    1. Hey Amy!! Better a little damage than a total loss, right!? No major events planned for November – just going to be pushing it in Lake Blue Ridge and my apartment pool this year – hoping to make it to Thanksgiving! Jackie does, indeed, love her pottery. She’s actually got a natural talent for it, her first projects are amazing!

  10. Nice post (as usual), and nice video and pictures. I’m sure you’d rather enjoy your own hobby instead of watching someone else’s drone videos, but since you enjoy the Southern Appalachians (as do I, living in Knoxville), and you are enjoying drone videography, you might check out some great drone videos, set to relaxing instrumental music, by searching for “Aerial Hiking” on You-tube. They are created by a young guy in Nashville (probably not retired yet, lol), shot in beautiful outdoor locations in Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau, made simply for pleasure, and not for money. They raise drone videos of awesome outdoor places to a real art form. I may never have a drone, but love to watch them. I think you will enjoy them, too.

  11. This should turn out to be an interesting hobby. Thanks for sharing the views!

    By any chance, have you visited Amicolola Falls State Park? My old Border Collie and I hiked a bit of the AT there. The most memorable thing for me, though, wasn’t the hike. It was the drive up to the campground–an unbelievable 25% grade! I felt like an astronaut lifting off from the Cape. When we finally reached the campground, I breathed a sigh of relief–until I realized in two weeks we’d be going back DOWN that grade! The views “up there” were stunning, though, and well worth the terror:)

    1. Ann, Amicolola Falls is, indeed, a great place. It’s the “approach” trail to the start of the AT on Springer Mountain, but most folks thru-hiking the AT actually start at Amicalola Falls. ‘ve been there many times, and know of the hill of which you speak!! It is a beautiful place, tho the “bluff” over which the falls, um, fall, does indeed make for some steep roads in the area!

  12. Since several of you have asked, the drone I purchased is a Yuneec Q500 4k. It was recommended by a friend who’s a professional photographer, and I’ve been very happy with it’s 3-way gimballed camera mount, it’s second battery, it’s awesome flight controller with built in (large) screen, and it’s stability. I paid $500 for it when it was on sale at B&H Photography (an online photo store), and would readily recommend it to someone looking for a great drone to start their hobby!

  13. Hi Fritz,
    Your drone videos are super cool, especially the one of you swimming! What a cool thing to have. I could maybe be talked into swimming across a slightly cold lake to have my own similar video but the soundtrack would definitely have to start with some dramatic music as I dive in and get started with the initial shock of the cold water. And, Cubert, yes! Take him to Lake Superior! Or the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota😉
    Did Vicki @ MSD tell you about her new book yet? Thanks for sharing the videos.

  14. I just started reading your blog, so I’m not sure if you’ve covered this in previous posts, but it would be awesome if you could include information about how to fly drones legally in the US! It’s incredibly alarming how many people who have no idea what they’re doing fly drones into airspace they aren’t allowed in. They had a major problem with aerial firefighters not being able to do their jobs because drones were in the way in California. There’s also a really cool video showing the extent of the disruption when someone flew an unauthorized drone over Gatwick airport (5 flights had to divert because the runway was temporarily closed). I think the general guideline is to stay under 400ft and not to fly within 5 miles of an airport.

    That said, I think drones are really cool and I think it would be an interesting hobby to get into. The buzzing sound drives me nuts in real life but the videos they take can be breathtaking, especially considering that any average person with a few hundred dollars to spare can get that kind of footage!

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