I began my day by driving to the Rheinmetall headquarters in Bristol. I was here to start my two and a half day drone course. The goal was to spend a few days in training with Sion Roberts at the Rheinmetall Unmanned Systems Training Academy to complete the CAA endorsed Remote Pilot Course (Theory). This is the first step in gaining permission from the CAA to fly unmanned aircraft for aerial work.
Peli case in tow, I stormed into the building half an hour late. The lovely receptionist was waiting for me, quickly signed me in and showed me to the training room. There were 8 of us on the course and we all introduced ourselves, we were all here for aerial photography or filming work.
As a Cinematographer and Steadicam Operator I understand how important movement is. I have the ability to visualise how a camera moves in 3d space and I also have an understanding of the different forms of moving a camera and their limitations. The reason I wanted to become a drone pilot was simple. I wanted less restrictions, I wanted to be able to move a camera on the x,y & z axis with the least amount of limitations.

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The first hour of the course rather did scare me. I had gone in blind and I didn’t realise how much there was to flying a drone commercially. My previous experience of drones went as far as a £22 Cheerson CX10 that’s the size of a coaster. I highly recommend buying one of these to learn the basic controls and get familiar with orientation before flying a more expensive drone. If you can fly a CX10 confidently, you’ll be more than okay with a bigger, more stable drone.

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So after the first hour, we started going through everything step by step and my anxiety started to die down. Sion went at the perfect pacing and made sure everyone was up to speed at all times (his military background obvious).

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By the middle of day two, we were up to speed on Air Law, Flight Principles and Air Worthiness, Meterology, Flight Navigation, Civil Aviation Procedures, LiPo Batteries, Flight Planning and Associated Risk Assessment, SUAS Emergency Procedures, writing our Operations Manual and also Human Factors (most of which we were to be tested on). By the end of day two, we had planned a flight based on a theoretical brief to CAA standards and performed a flight brief to the other members of the course. I came out of day two feeling extremely confident for the exam the following morning.

On the third morning, we summarised what we’d learnt and took the 54 question multiple choice test to which we all passed with flying colours (haha). I passed at 96%.

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The next steps in becoming permitted to perform aerial work are buying a drone, insuring it (CoverDrone were brilliant), writing a 50 page operations manual and having it approved (not as difficult as you’d think) and then taking the practical test.

Thanks to RUSTA and Sion Roberts, I am now flying a DJI Inspire 1 and loving every minute!