Small unmanned aircraft are beginning to be used around the world for dull, dangerous and dirty tasks. Whilst autopilots take most of the work out of flying robots some basic flight planning and fine motor skills can make the entire process much easier with less risk.
An emerging industry is being driven by entrants with no traditional model aircraft experience. This is leading to the same basic mistakes being made over and over again.
There are two sorts of drone pilot.
The External Pilot (EP) directly controls the flight of the UAV during launch and recovery operations by visual reference to the UAV. Radio control model experience is very useful for an external pilot.
The Internal Pilot (IP) Operates and navigates UAV during the en route, mission, and return phase of flight from a ground control station usually an air conditioned container somewhere sunny.
There is plenty of material on the web created by experienced people to help folks teaching themselves we pull as much of as we can together here. Then some simple tests that will form the minimum knowledge that I would expect somebody to arrive with if coming to train on fixed wing platforms at the farm with me!
The basic RPAS knowledge to be covered will be, flight preparation, take off, the circuit and landing.
If you have stumbled across this information and are looking to invest in drones beware a snake oil filled market.
Systems are sold to folks with cash burning holes in their pockets that are two complex and not fit for the task to be undertaken. Before you buy anything make sure you know exactly what you want the UAV to be able to do for you.
Buying a ready to fly Bixler from HobbyKing and finding a local model aircraft club to learn to fly with would make a very good start. Too many people are trying to skip the knowledge and skills part of autonomous flight. Whatever you do in life that's never a good idea!
The sUAS News editorial team are keen to reduce the pain. This course will have modules added as we either think of them or have time to create them.
Gary Mortimer, March 2014