Many thanks to Saturday 25 November Drones 101 for Adults participants for trusting DB to teach them the skills necessary to fly quadcopters. Also, as our recent change from using Eventbrite to an in-house ticket process caused some hiccups in the lead up to the program, the group’s patience and understanding were greatly appreciated.

It was a great day indoors and out with a predominantly novice group traversing the learning curve wonderfully. The ‘slow burn’ that is a Drone Bootcamp’s scaffolded flying program saw all and sundry pre-flighting, arming, taking off, hovering, pitching and rolling well before the main break.

Upon return from lunch we were yawing and completing simple box turns in no time. Questions asked were influenced by the associated seminars and, as per past groups, the desire to graduate to a DJI Phantom aircraft by program’s end was evident (most often the result of the confidence gained flying the toy-grade Syma quadcopters in an appropriately paced, structured process). Well done to all those that tackled the tricky inversion (aka aversion or barrel roll) manoeuvre the little Syma drones are capable of. Smooth banked turns are relegated as homework if you’re looking to ‘push the envelope’.

It’s a good workshop when all aircraft leave in serviceable condition – none found the net when pushing limits indoors and the outdoor DJI Phantom familiarisation activity was only compromised by a couple of local lads with a soccer ball and a trio of over-curious, fast flying magpies.

Congratulations to all participants on graduating with your ‘wings’… go forth to fly your drones safely and responsibly.

Images from the event can be viewed via our Flickr site.



Huge congratulations to Drone Bootcamp’s most recent graduates from the Saturday 28 October Drones 101 for Adults workshop. Even though the program now starts at 9:00am (30 minutes earlier than previous workshops) we finished 30 minutes late with all and sundry still on the ground fit and flying at 5pm (give or take). The patience and tolerance of the group were greatly appreciated after we lost 30 minutes in the first session due to a prolonged unboxing and pre-flight phase.

Suffice to say that by the end of the first formal flying stage we had rescued 30 minutes (as well as a drone caught in the net) and the learning curve, always steepest at the beginning of flying, started to level out. All participants conquered pitch, roll and yaw in no time with basic manoeuvres and identified milestones completed prior to a short stint outside flying the DJI Phantom 3 Standard. Despite a 5-10 km/h gusting wind keeping us ‘honest’ on the soccer oval, all participants completed a short familiarisation fly. This fly is always a great opportunity to utilise the Can I Fly There, WindCompass and DJI Go apps in context. Seeing a drone at an altitude of 30m only to realise that’s 25% of the allowable height is always beneficial and gives a reality to what are, ultimately, very generous rules from CASA.

This program saw our oldest participant, Viv (91 years young) who was a complete warrior and stayed for the whole event. He was so humble, even saying to me at the end of the day that I “…must be exhausted”. Huge thanks to Alex for his one-on-one coaching of Viv providing me with the time to assist the group holistically.

Well done to everyone… please go on to fly safely and responsibly.

Mark Will
Cheif Drone Nerd



Drones 101 for Teachers (26 Oct 2017): Post-workshop blog report


All drone operations complied with the CASA rules and regulations for the <2kg commercial RPAS category.

The inaugural Drones 101 for Teachers workshop conducted at the Hedley Beare CTL on Thursday 26 October 2017 saw no less than 19 innovative educators in attendance (aka drone ‘early adopters’).

The TQI-accredited program comprised six (6) topic sessions culminating in a flying demonstration conducted on the oval at the rear of the CTL.

Sessions provided comprised the following:

  • Session 1: The Basics (Definitions/History/Terminology/Glossary)
  • Session 2: The Technical Stuff (Key components/Grades of drone/Radio guidance explained)
  • Session 3: Flying Safely (Drone Dangers/CASA rules & Regulations/The ARN/Exam)
  • Session 4: Drone in Schools (Building/Coding/Buying/Grants?The Dragonfly Project)
  • Session 5: Resources (Books/Websites/Apps and Downloads)
  • Session 6: Flying demonstration (Phantom 3 Standard)

Questions and queries from the floor regarding the safe and responsible use of drones in schools were constant throughout the day – the most common asking whether you can ‘legally’ fly a drone at an ACT school to which the answer is a resounding “yes”. However, as unpacked throughout the workshop, all drone flying must comply with CASA rules and regulations and considerate of the sub-2kg commercial RPAS category. We identified that “government land” is a furphy with the only thing actually preventing you from flying at school is whether you are within 5.5km of Canberra Airport. By that rule alone, schools such as Campbell High, Ainslie Primary, and Merici etc. CANNOT fly UAVs outdoors at their institution (visit the CASA website for more info).

Congratulations to the ‘winners’ of the quiz conducted at the end of Session 4 challenging participants to demonstrate their knowledge of the morning session. Lunch was polished off without complaint – however, I’m of the opinion that less cake and more fruit could have been consumed ;)… all in all, the food provided by Swirl Catering seemed to have been enjoyed overall.

Many thanks to all in attendance. Please go forth as proponents of safe and responsible RPAS flying. Here’s a final list of tips, tricks, and recommendations mindful of The Three “R’s” as a final cap off of topics discussed and debated on the day:

  • Always consider ‘risk’ before flying (refer to the ACT ED Risk Matrix and document your drone flying intentions)
  • Ask yourself “…is it reasonable?”
  • Know and abide by the rules
  • Have a TOP-DOWN drone policy at your school with all stakeholders informed that your school understands and complies with the rules and regs
  • Apply for an Aviation Reference Number (ARN) for your school
  • Have a drone ‘brains trust’ at your school as go-to people for policy purposes
  • It’s up to you to confidently inform senior staff of the do’s and dont’s
  • Communicate and collaborate to eliminate the myths, ‘red herrings’ and crisis management that can surround drone operations and policies
  • Help to create, shape and foster a positive, informed and proactive understanding of RPAS within your school
  • Refer to your apps for pre-flight info (i.e. Can I Fly There, Wind Compass, Aero Weather etc.)
  • You may be near an HLS – refer to the Can I Fly There app
  • Don’t fly OVER people
  • Remember Murphy’s Law – don’t push your luck
  • Operate drones with transmitters only rather than a tablet or phone exclusively (unless it’s Tynker for coding)
  • Don’t let students bring or fly their personal drones at school
  • Ensure any imagery posted online complies with the rules and regs (caption it as per “All drone operations complied with the CASA rules and regulations for the <2kg commercial RPAS category”)
  • Use Drone Bootcamp as a conduit to provide correct information and to provide further instruction to teachers and students at your school

Mark Will
Drone Bootcamp

Drones 101 for Teachers: General Content & Resources

Pre-event registration (Google Form): https://goo.gl/forms/Yu0xKeOmSY4eLXIC3

Drones 101 for Teachers: Program Plan

Which Innovator Are You? Quiz: https://www.nesta.org.uk/quiz/which-innovator-are-you

CASA Resource: Drone Fact Sheet

CASA sub-2kg commercial RPAS category and ARN info: https://www.casa.gov.au/standard-page/commercial-unmanned-flight-remotely-piloted-aircraft-under-2kg

Drone Bootcamp Prospectus (including The Dragonfly Project): 2017 Prospectus

Drone Terminology Quick Reference Guide: https://www.airdronecraze.com/quick-reference-guide-of-drone-terminology/

Industry, Innovation & Science Maker Space Grant Guidelines: Inspiring Australia Science Engagement Programme Guidelines PDF-2


It started off as a fine, windless and clear day for Drones 101 for Newbies on Saturday 2 September but by late morning the clouds had arrived and the wind blew at about 12-13 km. Nonetheless, a great group of 10 drone enthusiasts gathered at the Emmaus Sports Complex to ‘cut their teeth’ on Syma, MJX and DJI products of varying capabilities.

After an introductory seminar covering definitions, grades of drone, flying safety and rules and regs, we got busy flying with pre-flight, arming and basic flight control exercises covered before a lunch break.

Post-lunch the group were challenged to manoeuvre their drones using pitch, roll and yaw before another seminar to provide buying advice and some insight into handy apps and resources. Despite the wind, we got a DJI Phantom 3 Standard airborne for our final flying fling and used it for a group photo. All and sundry got to have a fly of the craft whilst keeping watch of a playful hound at the end of the oval, the busy Magpies and the gusting wind.

Just to clarify a miscommunication following a question – no, the Phantom 3 camera does not have audio (but the GoPro 5 does) and the Certificate III in Aviation (RPAS VLOS) varied in length and cost depending on who offers it. See here for available RTOs: https://www.myskills.gov.au/courses/details?Code=AVI30316

A great day all in all – I hope those involved enjoyed their introduction to, and familiarisation of, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS). Please fly safely and responsibly.

Images from the day can be viewed and/or downloaded from Flickr.