In January, Aaron Demo, Doug Lancaster, Jayme Hobin, and Danielle Bustos braved the cold to complete drone flight school each earning their Part 107 certification which allows them to legally pilot an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV or drone) for commercial use under FAA regulation.
The flight school our team participated in was administered by an expert drone operator from Measure, a leader in drone and aerial intelligence in multiple states. The two-phase training began with the basic procedures for operating a drone. This included everything from safety procedures to maintenance guidelines. This is a key part of training to both protect the team and the equipment. The team also had to master the regulatory compliance rules for flying drones commercially to ensure that they felt comfortable operating a UAV within the FAA rules surrounding drones.
In the second phase of training, the team got to get behind the controls to try it for themselves. They began on a drone from Measure to learn the basics and get in more practice flights. They all ran test routes as well as launching and landing the drone. After the team became comfortable on Measure’s drones, they switched to learn on Baseline’s drone. This was the key part of training, ensuring our team could feel comfortable operating on our equipment. On the last day of training, our team got more flight time with our drone, learning more about what it can do and how to fly safely. Between flights, the team retreated back to the truck to get out of the wind-chill and warm up before braving the cold to fly again. As the day went on, they practiced flying on autopilot. This is a key feature of the drone because it ensures an accurate flight pattern which allows the photos it takes along the flight to be at the same elevation and distance apart. These photos can then be stitched together to create a topographic map for further surveying purposes. Although the drone operates on its own, the team learned it is still vital to have an operator supervising and ready to take control if something were to go wrong.
Aaron practiced this first-hand when in the middle of an autopilot flight, a small Cessna plane flew too low in the path of the drone. He took control and moved the drone away from the flight path to avoid a collision. Between the cold, practice flights, and avoiding a collision Aaron, Doug, Jayme, and Danielle earned their certification. Now that we have four new Part 107-certified survey team members, Baseline is excited and well-prepared to integrate drones into our surveying services.