There is No Substitute for Hands-On Drone Pilot Training

Jul 17, 2018 12:48:56 PM  |  0 Comments

As shared by: Andy Justicia, Lead Pilot for sUAS Training and Standards

 

Nothing Beats the Real Thing

In a world where you can earn a Master’s degree online and where “Google it” is the solution to almost any question, we sometimes underestimate the value of hands-on learning.

I recently had the opportunity to provide such training with Measure's Ground Control™ to a group of impressive linemen and energy operations professionals in Chile, through our partnership with AES Energy.

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The trainees with their drone equipment.

There are always eureka moments wherever I do training, but this time was especially rewarding as these pilots had limited exposure to formal training and don’t have the large community of drone enthusiasts to learn from like we have in the US.

After classroom training where we covered safety procedures, process, and regulation (and also where I live-interpreted all written materials to Spanish!), I took the crew of ten out to get our hands dirty with their drones in their own fields and farms. And that’s where the “Aha!” moments really happen – not inside a book or from watching a video, but with on-the-job-site training inspecting real assets.

Here are a few of those moments:

 

Aha! Electromagnetic Fields are Not Death to the Drone

As the Phantom Pro 4 entered an electromagnetic field surrounding a transmission line during pilot training, I could sense nervousness come over the trainees. The compass error warning appeared on my iPad and the drone started circling and acting squirrely, trying to find its way.

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Flight practice with the DJI Inspire 1. 

A common misconception about drones is that an interaction with an electromagnetic field will cause the drone to fizz out and die mid-air. By taking these pilots out into the field and intentionally intercepting an electromagnetic field, I was able to show them what actually happens in real life – and how to manage the situation without damage to hardware.

Calmly, I guided the drone outside of the field, knowing the GPS had no direction to reference via the compass. Seeing this situation managed appropriately and without harm was a relief to the trainees.

 

Aha! Photography Skills are Important

While inspecting a transmission structure with the trainees, I took two sets of inspection photos. For the first set, I took all the pictures in automatic mode on the camera. For the second set, I adjusted the camera settings manually for the light side of the pole and again for the shaded side of the pole.

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Drone Dog helped with training.

Afterward, I showed the two sets of photos side by side. The difference was astounding; you could see the light come into the eyes of the trainees when they recognized the quality improvement from proper camera adjustment.

A drone pilot does not often associate his or herself with photography, but in actuality, photography is a large part of the job. Being able to illustrate this principle first-hand means a higher likelihood it will stick.

 

Aha! Drones Can Fly Themselves

Imagine you’ve been learning to fly drones with limited guidance for some time. You are not really adept at the details of inspections or how to get the best data from the drone, but you learn task by task. When you fly a solar farm, for instance, you are manually making the turns and creating the pattern of flight as you go.

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Concentration during flight drills.

Then you come to training and connect a DJI drone to Measure Ground Control™, set up an automated flight pattern, and watch the drone fly the entire farm on auto-pilot.

This was a turning point for the trainees. Seeing the drone on automated grid flight was a game changer. Even though they had the functionality to do this prior to training, seeing the utility of the feature in real life and having hands-on teaching of exactly how to set it up was motivating.

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The group altogether after a successful day.

It’s moments like these that make me love my job so much. I’m honored to be part of the top-notch training team here at Measure; we take safety and performance seriously and are passionate about what we do. To see more, follow Measure on LinkedIn. To learn more about training, ask about our Toolkits.

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