The only experience most people have with drones is through online media, movies, or TV. And despite the ubiquity of small consumer drones, relatively few have actually operated one themselves. This was no different from the participants during our third drone training session back in March the participants had varying expectations. Of course, flying a drone at the end of the day was almost everyone’s expectation and the Uganda Flying Labs team did not disappoint.
Given the success of previous training, the demand for this drone training from different companies and individuals was high. The participants’ backgrounds were varied, with expertise in film, land survey, GIS and remote sensing, each brought with them their individual expectations and interests aligned with their unique fields of work and personal interest. The staff prepared accordingly to those varying interests to give the participants the best introduction to our drones.
Before any student takes their first flight, we have to cover the basics: a theory session which introduced the participants to the most common drone types, the different components of the drone and their uses. This session also included the code of conduct, highlighting the pros and cons for each drone type, and the procedures for buying and operating a personal drone (CAA and ministry of defence have specific regulations and procedures to acquire drones and Flying Labs is willing to help in any way possible during this process).
During the theory session, one of the trainers discussed about the new development in drone technology under medical cargo delivery. Drones can now be used to deliver medical supplies (blood, vaccines) to inaccessible places within a short period of time (see video above from June 2017, when WeRobotics teamed up with the Peruvian Ministry and other partners to field test a fleet of affordable cargo drones in the Amazon Rainforest).
When we arrived in Mukono, the weather was sunny and calm—perfect for flight—and the participants wasted little time to see all the theory learned earlier that day spring to life.
Once we finished assembling the drones, our excitement for takeoff was thwarted when the drone stopped communicating with the control server. We guided the trainees through troubleshooting, as this was an opportunity for them to experience firsthand what can happen in the field. Having brought our best team to the field, it took us no time before the drone was connected to the remote again and ready to fly.
Smiles from the participants’ faces radiated as the drone was launched into the sky. Every participant took their turn at the controls to get a sense of how to maneuver the drone:
- Roll (moves the drone to the sides) were some of the flying motions that made the experience
- Pitch (the drone tilts upwards or downwards)
- Yaw (the direction the front of your drone is facing when rotating either clockwise or counterclockwise on its vertical axis)
After several rounds of flight from our enthusiastic group, flying all kinds of experimental techniques, we closed the practical session against the backdrop of the setting sun.
We thank all of the participants for their energy and engagement, for interacting with the instructors, and for asking thoughtful questions.
We are on the road to the intermediate drone training, which will be more intense and will go deeper into the different ways that drones can be used.
Watch this space for our next update.