Lifestyle & CultureYak Chats

Yak Takes to the Skies with BCdrones

Drones are the future as they lead innovation across a diverse range of sectors. Yak Staff Writer, Ben Collison caught up with UoN Student and Drone Pilot, Billy Callaghan  from BCdrones for an aviator to aviator chat.

Over the last decade, drone technology has revolutionized society. Once the thing of sci-fi, followed by extensive military applications; the power of drones now rests in the hands of operators and enthusiasts everywhere.

The commercial applications of drones have also seen some of the most challenging conditions mastered creating safer and more innovative working environments. From filmmakers to fire fighters; life savers to conservationists; drone technology is opening the doors to countless opportunities within the community.

With drone technologies increasing role in the media arts space, how long will it be before drone videography and photography see’s itself in the course handbook?

I caught up with Drone Pilot, Billy Callaghan, a Bachelor of Communication student who is majoring in Media Arts Production and chatted with him about how drones are shaping content development and the broader aviation industry.

Billy Callaghan from BC Drones

What got you into flying drones?

I don’t really remember a defining moment that got me into drones. All through my high school life to now I have had a passion for innovative technology and filmmaking. I believe drones fit both of these categories as a technology that is consistently amazing to me with its uses and developments. And the unique perspective it brings to cinematography really interests me.

What was the first drone you flew?

The first drone I ever got my hands on was the first Mavic Mini back in October 2019. I bought it on the release day. It was the first DJI micro class drone to come out and I loved it.

What do you fly now?

I have had the chance to fly a number of drones. Weights range from 100g racing drones to 20kg industry drones. But I currently own and fly a DJI Air2s as my personal drone.

What was the deciding factor for you to become certified?

There are a lot of different drone laws in Australia. Especially around the commercial use of drones. I decided to get my license so I could better learn and understand these rules and also expand the diversity of opportunities I could engage in

What was the certification process like?

The process was very easy. I went through Aviassist, a great Australia-wide Drone aviation consulting and training company. It consisted of a one-week theory course with a test at the end and a one week practical training course. In the end, I got my 25kg RePL and AROC level 1.

Where do you see Drone tech going in the future?

I think drones are going to keep advancing. With the rapid development of battery technology, I think flight times are going to get longer and transmission distances are going to be further. I can see drones helping to make a lot of jobs involving working at heights a lot easier and safer for employers and employees. Ultimately,  I don’t think drones will take jobs, it will make new and existing jobs safer.

You volunteer with  Surf Life Saving and National Parks, how has the use of drones evolved since you first got involved?

Drones have changed a lot since I first started flying around 5 years ago. A lot more is starting to be put into a smaller package. More cameras, larger batteries and bigger accessories are just a start. The Integration of thermal imaging cameras will be a big advancement in the world of animal surveying.

We have seen some fantastic results in shark monitoring that protects both the wildlife and swimmers from harm.

You have worked on a feature film and commercials, how was that experience using a drone in that environment?

Just taking videos and making cinematic footage is a very different ball game. I’ve had a lot of fun developing my skills with the more particular details of drone cinematography. It’s definitely something I would like to continue working on in the future.

Billy on set of the McBrat Films feature – Strangers In A Carpark

Do you see Drones being an element of Creative Industries studies in the future?

I believe drones are going to become more and more of a useful tool to the creative industries in the future. Drones will continue to give a specific perspective in photography and videography that can’t be matched any other way. Well, maybe a helicopter but that expensive.

I am super excited to continue to work with drones into the future to see what interesting innovations the industry comes up with next.

What’s your advice for anyone wanting to get into drone operations?

I would recommend spending a bit of time looking at the CASA website and get to the the laws and safety around drones. Would also recommend getting the Ok to fly app. It’s a great free app and that helps to let you know where you can and can’t fly.

Feature Image of Bennetts Head by Billy Callaghan , BCdrones

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