I have asked a number of women operating drones to write some articles for the blog and today’s turn is Becki Warner of Warner Vision who has just passed her flight test! Congratulations on her achievement. Over to Becki in her own words about her journey
It’s been a whirlwind romance! I woke up on a Monday morning in late September 2016 having barely considered becoming a SUA pilot, but by the following Friday lunch time I had passed Ground School and was well on the way to getting my Permission for Commercial Operation PfCO.
At this point I had still not flown a drone, but I had a least now seen one.
My Husband and business partner Jonathan and I have been very busy with Warner Vision, our corporate video and photographic partnership. Jonathan has been interested in adding aerial photos and videos to our business for a while, but everything we had heard about getting this permission made it sound incredibly difficult.
We had seen an advert for Heliguy’s Drone Training course over the weekend and decided we should find out more about what was involved for future reference. When I gave them a call that Monday morning I was so impressed by the conversation that the next day I arrived at the beautiful Elvetham Hotel near Farnborough to start the course.
There were 7 trainees that week, with two instructors Dan and Daz. I was the only female, but surprisingly I wasn’t the only person that had absolutely no experience of flying a drone.
The course was very thorough and the instructors gave us loads of practical tips and advice that was just as helpful to the complete novices as well as the pilots with years of experience. We had a great week, loads of refreshments and superb lunches and at the end all 7 of us passed the Ground School exam.
When I got home we were discussing which drone to order when DJI announced a new drone would be available in October called the Mavic which looked ideal for our first drone, so we put an order in for that immediately. Unfortunately there were major distribution issues with the drone and it still hadn’t arrived by the end of January 2017.
We then took the decision to change our order to the newly released Phantom 4 Pro, which has a much superior camera to the Mavic. We chose to order from Heliguy as they have excellent customer service, rather than going directly with DJI and it arrived the next day (27th January 2017). It was so exciting to take it out and fly it for the first time:
The delay in getting a drone allowed me to concentrate on the paperwork and follow the instructors advice and regularly borrowed my sons little Hubsan x4, which is a superb little drone to learn with – it is completely manual and with the propeller guards on it is safe to fly indoors, so by the time my Phantom 4P arrived it made flying in ATTI look easy.
I also spent the time reading and watching everything I could find to develop my skills as a drone pilot and I’m really grateful for the experience and knowledge that the Drone Lass and others have been willing to share.
The weather in February has been pretty changeable, a lot of wind and rain, but I managed to get just over 10 hours practice flying before going for my practical test on 21st February. I was pretty nervous about doing the practical test, but when I spoke to Dan the evening before he reassured me that I could take my time to get the manoeuvres right, so I went for it. There is a lot of paperwork to prepare for the practical test to show that the flight will be safe and all risks have been mitigated, just as though it was a professional job. I also took out insurance for the month (£55 Coverdrone).
The flight test
The wind was pretty gusty which made it quite tricky. My first two manoeuvres went really well. I had to fly high over the top of an obstacle (a tree) and take an overhead photo of a cone at the far end of the field followed by a 45 degree descending yawl shot following a line of cones. Next was a 45 degree ascending yawl shot which took me a couple of attempts to get a good flowing camera angle. There were a couple of emergency actions and a figure-of-8 that went well first time. It took a few attempts to fly parallel along a row of cones maintaining an even distance – I blame that on the wind! After that I had to fly it towards myself with the camera looking at me (so the controls work back-to-front). Dan saved the best for last – a tennis court size rectangle in ATTI! The field has a lot of trees dotted about in it so there isn’t any room to make a mistake with this one. I made use of Dan as a spotter to warn me if i got too close to the trees and made sure I kept my finger on the switch ready to flick back into GPS if I got into trouble.
I PASSED 🙂
So now I have completed my paperwork and sent it off to the wonderful training team at Heliguy for their final approval and then have to wait to hear from the CAA with my permission for Commercial Operation (CAAPfCO). To get this far there has been a lot to learn and a lot of time consuming paperwork to prepare, but it isn’t as difficult as I expected it to be and flying my Phantom 4 Pro is fantastic, I really love it.
I now intend to practice my cinematic camera shots extensively so that I am well prepared for the first commercial job we get once the PfCO arrives!
Have a great day
Thank you Becki for sharing your story Carys x