With its endless efforts of extending drone trainings to the community on the 26th to the 27th of March, Uganda Flying Labs team conducted a fast-paced and large-scale drone training in a region west of the River Nile in Uganda. The training comprised of the officers from OPM and KCCA of Kampala.
Having conducted numerous exciting drone trainings in Uganda, Uganda Flying Labs was contracted to lead this training and image analysis for these officers, who are supported by UNDP. It was a tremendous experience for the Flying Labs team with their four DJI drones. The team traveled two days to carry out a pilot study of the refugee area which would be mapped. The area had uneven elevation, which made Uganda Flying Labs pass the first test of making a proper plan of how the training could be executed.
The sixteen officers from OPM aka Office of the Prime Minister and Kampala Capital City Authority arrived when we all set to start. With a brief introduction and a question about their expectations and knowledge about drones. Eighty percent of participants had only seen drones being used for videography in weddings and fifteen percent person had never heard or seen drones and with one person being a pilot. This arose the energy of the pilots and excited them to have the opportunity to pour out the skills they had prepared for the training. One of the senior pilots almost did not want to leave the podium as the questions and excitements about drones increased.
On the first training day, the pilots reached early and the participants got lost on their way to the training ground. This made the session of the first day slightly delayed but nevertheless, it was a blast as the first pilot opened the first theory session which excited and stirred many questions from the participants as they were so inquisitive to learn everything about drones within the first one hour. All questions at this time were centered around what drones are and what they can do for them in their field of expertise.
The theory sessions went on for half a day with almost all the common topics being taught. Another interesting topic that ignited a quest for answers was on the code of conduct. One participant from the OPM argued that if there is a big sum of money being offered, then he would violate the rules of the code of conduct and get the money. This led to arguments among the participants bringing the session to a standstill which was thawed by different pilot’s testimonies. Such as were stories of one pilot who violated code of conduct and ended in police custody, the client came to bail him out after hours of sitting in the police cells.
As much as lunch delayed participants from the theoretical session had become so enthusiastic that one of them used the slogan we can’t wait and all the participants decided to set off for the practical session on empty stomachs. The participants then set off for a field practical session of flying and aerial photogrammetry. This session made many participants so enthusiastic and eager to become pilots. They were divided into groups.
On our arrival a few ground rules were narrated. Possibly that was not absorbed because the participants were way exhilarated in putting hands to the metallic bird. Participants carried out unpack and assembling of the drone as if they had done it before. Once the drone was powered and a connection was established, the participants could not hold the excitement anymore, within a short time of 5 minutes we could see all the groups with the drones in the sky. This thrilled all the participants and villagers to the extent that none of them would want to leave the drone controller as if it was the end of such opportunities on their life.
The forsaken late lunch now arrives and it was a struggle like dressing an elephant with a legging to collect the participants for lunch as none of them ever willed to leave the controller as if they had found their long lost love. The supervisor shouted and jumped around like a scrum master for nearly 15 minutes trying to convince these elated generals to go and eat. The pilot’s energy was drained by the over enthusiastic participants.
Thereafter the participants were assigned a task of assemble, fly, capture images and videos and disassemble. This was well executed and brought the day to a successful close. The team drove back to their hotels in town. The team remained fresh as if they had not had a hot sunny firing day in the field.
The second day was yet another day of excitement for the participants as many of them were sure of their hands being on the control rollers again. The day kicked off with another interesting session of the testimonies from the previous day and a drone pre check session and a mission planning session. This prompted one of the commissioners who had come to close the training to ask for a private training as the rest were having their breakfast. This even made him so intrigued to the extent that he had to keep around the whole day amidst his other duties with the refugee command leaders.
In the mission execution by the participants, the refugee and their kids were excited and the local community members all gathered around to see new small amazing machine that was on the block. This had to turn out into another demonstration for the local community.
This further excited them with the automated mission flights that each of them was able to capture images of the areas of their plan.
The day ended with an evaluation of the participants by the Pilots. The team also trained the participants on image processing and analysis when they were back in kampala.