• Padmja Sopori

Drone Zone

Drones have come a long way from first being used in World War I in 1919, first being flown by radio control. Drones now have many functions, ranging from monitoring climate change to carrying out search operations after natural disasters, photography, filming, and delivering goods. But their most popular use now is probably recreational. Hobbyist World had a chance to speak to Yash Patel about drones.

22-year-old mechanical engineer, Yash Patel is one of the youngest DGCA certified RPAS trainers, with over 10 years of experience in the field of Drones, from flying fixed-wing Drones and multirotor to building them. He is currently an RPAS instructor at The Bombay Flying Club. He holds a student pilot membership at EAA (Experimental Aircraft Aviation) and is also a member of IAMA (Indian Academy of Model Aeronautics) since 2008. He is one of the co-founders at Dronacharya Aviation Pvt Ltd.

How and when did you get started with flying drones?

When I was in 4th grade, my father saw a Radio Control Helicopter and I was fascinated about flying it. He gifted it to me on my birthday and I used to fly it all the time. Later after crashing it, my grandfather and I started making small fixed-wing drones. After my grandfather passed away, as promised to him to not give up on making a fixed-wing which could fly, I finally made a fixed-wing drone in 2010. I made a drone but didn’t know how to fly it so at Mahalakshmi racecourse Mr.Tushar Pethe and Mr.Nandkishor Sighvan taught me to fly drones. In 2013 both of them taught me to fly multirotor (Quadcopters and Hexacopter) and I began making more drones and flying them. Later on, when the drones market started booming in India, I made and flew drones for various applications like surveillance, video and photo shooting, agriculture, etc. Also, when drone races began in India, I participated and won many such races.

What kind of drones do you fly?

I fly various types of drones. Some of them are Fixed wings, Helicopters, Quadcopters, Hexacopters, Octocopters both powered by electric motors and engines.

What is your favourite thing about flying drones?

I love that drones are so varied that they can take pictures and videos and can be flown in various patterns and formations and can also be used for racing. My favourite thing about drones is the technology involved in it and of course, I do it for the love of flying drones, be it for any application. They are easy to fly and are very stable in the air. I love their speed and manoeuvrability. Nowadays drones have amazing features and can also perform aerobatics and performing aerobatic manoeuvres like backflips are something I thoroughly enjoy.

How would one start flying?

There are various drones available in the market which one can buy to start with. However, I would advise people to join a drone flying school and take proper training. This would not only enhance the skills of the drone pilot but getting a drone license would help him/her consider making a career in it.

There are also many hobby workshops conducted where one can enrol and make their own drones; as knowing how to make drones would help him be a better pilot.

This hobby may seem to be an expensive one but it's a one-time investment. Flying drones helps in improving focus, concentration and hand-eye coordination.

What kind of qualifications/certifications do you need to fly a drone?

The government of India has set regulations to fly drones which are effective from 1 December 2018. According to regulations, one needs to have an RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems) license. You need to undergo a course at Flying Training Organization approved by DGCA for Drone training. The eligibility criteria to join the flying school is minimum18 years of age and 10th pass in English medium.

This licence would allow Drone pilots to opt for drone flying jobs in various sectors.

School kids or college students can fly drones as a hobby without procuring a license but informing the local police authorities is advisable if flying in a public place.

Are there any specific areas where you can or cannot fly drones?

One cannot fly a drone within a 7 km radius of an airport. Apart from that if flying in a public place it is advised to inform the local police station before flying. In India we also have a height restriction to fly, hence a drone should not exceed 400ft vertical height.

One is advised not to fly drones in a crowded area.

What's one thing about drones that you'd want people to know?

Drones are the future of aviation and have a vast scope in coming time. I would like to request parents to encourage their kids towards drone flying and allow them to make a future in it. Also, I would want people to know that drones are not typical toys. Safety of the drone pilot and the vicinity is to be taken care of. People who fly drones as a hobby and have a passion towards it can opt for drone license and convert their hobby and passion into profession.

What is a piece of advice you'd like to give to aspiring drone operators?

My message to all the aspiring drone operators is to fly within the rules for safety reasons. Also, not to be discouraged and stop flying after the first crash. For all the aspiring pilots, this is a great field to work in. Keep innovating new ideas for drone application and take the nation ahead.