Flight School is a GO!
On Tuesday 21st of October Jacob Petersen (Danoffice IT www.danoffice.com) and Tinus Diedericks (Timeless Technologies www.timetech.co.za) arrived at Gondwana Game Reserve to hand over the GCF’s new Huginn X1. Needless to say Rubin Snyman (our Pilot in training) was very excited. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Danoffice IT, Sky-Watch and Timeless Technologies for all their kind assistance in getting the GCF Flight School up and running! Stay tuned to follow Ruben’s progress through the school. Rubin will also be updating his blog shortly so look out for that weekly!
To read more about Rubin click here.
To read more about the Flight School and Pilot Project click here.
Flight School Update #1
It was a hot day on Gondwana, Rubin took the Huginn up in the Lehele Clubhouse carpark as the wind was a bit gusty. Although the Huginn can fly in very high winds, we thought it safer to fly here for a short time until Rubin is more used to the control of the Huginn (as the wind was gusting to over 70kph). As you can see though, the camera is still stable enough to take very clear shots.
Flight School Update #2
Today Rubin took the Huginn to the skies for training as part of the GCF’s Flight School. He is progressing well and getting more comfortable flying the Huginn day by day. We flew exercises today, including plotting a flight path and programming the Huginn to ascend and descend to different heights at each waypoint. He also flew manually to different points in the field we used. The smile seen below dimmed a little when I told Rubin that we had run all the batteries flat.
Flight School Update #3 – (Night Flight)
This evening we joined up with two team members of the Anti-Poaching Unit (APU). At 9pm we went with the APU to a location on the reserve where Rhinos had been spotted. We were really excited to test the Huginn’s capabilities as the mist had rolled in and the headlights of the vehicle were only reaching 15m ahead. We stopped near where we thought the Rhinos were and Rubin got the Huginn ready to fly. Rubin put the Huginn straight up to 60m altitude and started panning the camera around the veld. With the thermal capabilities of the Huginn we found two Rhino in a matter of seconds.
Rhinos in the mist – Thermal video of the Rhino
Flight School Update #4
Although we weren’t scheduled to meet for Flight School today, we couldn’t help but get out and fly as it was such a beautiful day! Unfortunately we picked a time when all the game drives were out and about so we couldn’t fly over the rhino or elephants. So Rubin flew more exercises. Flight path plotting and practicing keeping the camera stable during video recording.
Flight Thermal 1 – Rubin strutting his stuff for the thermal camera [Video]
Zebras Running – Look in the bottom left of the video and you’ll see four Zebras running. As you can see Rubin is getting better at keeping the camera focused on the target but we’ve still got a little work to do. (Sorry the low video quality, this should be fixed soon)[Video]
Yeah Baby – enough said. [Video]
Flight School Update #5
This evening Flight School organised an exercise for our pilot in training. At 20:30 Rubin was tasked with tracking down and finding two and a half potential poachers in our walking area (the two being myself and Gondwana’s Head of Security. The half being Rubin’s 6 year old son Brendan).
We gave Rubin a rough idea of what direction we would be hiding and set off, while Rubin prepared the Huginn for operation “Hide n Seek”. I know, terrible name but Marco Polo was the other choice and no one was happy with that.
So once we were in position we radioed Rubin and he set off. He found us hiding around a shed in minutes. In the below pictures you can clearly see us hiding against the walls of the shed.
We then flew a few more exercises including hiding in bushes and under trees with very similar and pleasing results.
Night Exercise – Rubin finding us in no time at all [Video]
Flight School Update #6
On Friday the 23rd of January our pilot in training Rubin Snyman and our wildlife manager, Iain Olivier, went out on their first solo flight without our expert flight instructor. Needless to say we were nervous, but all went well with four successful flights putting the drone to good use in different anti-poaching and conservation related activities. Have a look at the photos showing us tracking the Rhino through some dense vegetation, following up on our dominant Elephant bull “Bully” and taking some fixed point photography of areas on the reserve being cleared of alien vegetation. Great Work!
Stay tuned form more updates..