I’ve decided to write a follow up article to my recent “Surviving Dads with Drones” post in an effort to address some of the many comments that have been posted on the original…
The original article was written after a close encounter in my local park with a gentleman flying the DJI Phantom he was obviously bought for Christmas. It was hot, I was angry, when I calmed down I thought a bit about what we as a community could do address some of the issues posed by new pilots in public places.
So here we go with some answers and explanations:
1. The title “Drone Dad”
Of course, I myself am a “Drone Dad”!
I have two beautiful children and quite a few more multirotors.
Come to think about it both the Josh’s are “Drone Dads”, so is Chad Kapper, I believe Alex Zvada will be soon (congrats by the way). In fact, most of the Flite Test crew are “Drone Dads”.
I think if you look at the social demographic of a large proportion of multirotor pilots you’ll find we’re all drone dads. That’s because rather than being a cruel characterization it describes men at a certain period in their life where disposable income means we can afford all these cool toys*.
Put up your hand if you too are a “Drone Dad”!
My apologies if the title alienated or offended. You should probably take a deep breath and relax…
*Of course I also acknowledge that there are plenty of other non-dads, teenagers, kids and yes even girls that fly mutirotors.
2. DJI Global and the DJI Phantom
The Phantom has become the focus point of many articles like this because quite simply it is the most popular RTF quad on the market. DJI products have set the standard for a lot of the technology we use in our hobby and they have a massive marketing budget. If you search for “quadcopter” or “multirotor” on Google you are almost certainly going to see pictures of shiny white Phantom’s that you can “fly right out of the box” and are “easy to fly”. If you were a middle-aged chap with plenty of spare cash why wouldn’t you buy one?
What I do have a problem with is the fact that DJI Global ran ads over Christmas hailing the Phantom as the “must have gadget of 2014”. That I feel is irresponsible and targets the wrong kind of interest. Guns and chainsaws aren’t advertised as gadgets so why the spinning blades of death?
Let’s not forget that both Sensefly and Trimble advertise their fixed wing UAVs as needing “no piloting skills to operate”. Don’t get me started on that…
3. To Club or not to Club
Yes, clubs are not for everyone. I am a member of a club but I don’t actually fly when there is anyone else about. I use the facilties because I know it is a semi-safe environment purposely setup and allocated for flying model aircraft. I did used to be the secretary of that club and when I flew LOS aerobatic aircraft I enjoyed the company of the other pilots on a Saturday morning.
In all honesty I think the hobby as a whole is shifting away from the club scene. Flite Test has shown us how we can get out there and fly in the park or the sports field safely without needing to join an expensive club.
I think the negative comments about clubs that have been posted speak more from personal experience than a general interest or acceptance of the wide diversity that exists in the hobby.
Oh, and I don’t think aeromodelling has or will ever be an “underground movement”!
4. Ali Shan Mao
Okay, a bit of a silly one. Ali is here to stay like him or loathe him. The picture however was intented to poke fun at people like myself who sometimes feel an air of superiority because we have a flight case with FatShark stickers on it and a hand built racing quad. My apologies to Ali (and the person who commented about it) if you thought the picture was misplaced or offensive.
I’m overwhelmed at the popularity of the original post and the general feeling of solidarity in most of the comments. It’s good to know that most people feel the same that we should be embracing these new pilots as they are showing an interest in our hobby. One more safe and responsible multirotor pilot is, after all, another voice in the fight against “Them“.
So just remember what we’ve talked about next time you are down the park and a “new pilot with a shiny ready to fly quadcopter of around middle age with obvious disposable income and an interest in flying technology” turns up.
(Just isn’t as catchy as “Drone Dad” is it?)