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I’d Love To Hear Your Answer To This Question

You Don’t Want to Have to Type This Letter to the Chief From a UAS Flight

Brandon Karr is from Pearland, Texas, and is currently the Chief Pilot, UAS Program Coordinator, and night shift patrolman for the Pearland Police Department. And I thought I had a full plate.

Brandon is another guest that has a different perspective on public safety drone operations because he has been a manned aircraft pilot since 2006. He worked hard and earned his commercial pilot rating as well as becoming a Certified Flight Instructor for single-engine airplanes, multi-engine airplanes, and trains instrument pilots. That is quite an accomplishment.

But that’s not all. Brandon is also the head honcho of the Gulf Coast Regional Public Safety UAS Response Task Force in Texas that is comprised of over 85 agencies and 250 pilots that fly to assist police, fire, or other agencies with natural disasters and major incidents.

In this podcast, we cover a number of topics. Including:

Why it is imperative to maintain VLOS with the Matrice 300 because when the app crashes you are blinded.

Things manned aircraft pilots can do to share aviation experience with new drone pilots.

Learning from the oh crap moments.

Hard lessons learned from the experience of flying drones in public safety.

Why you don’t want to have to type the letter, “Dear Chief, nobody was more surprised than I was…”

Why flying outside the regulations can ruin probable cause.

Dealing with counter-UAS operations while on a public safety flight.

Good flight attitudes to fly with.

How to tell risk from reward when you are asked to fly.

The three skills public safety pilots should learn.

And much more.

Transcript

Brandon Carr is from Parallon, Texas, and he’s currently the chief pilot UAS program coordinator and night shift patrolman for the Pearland police department. And I thought I had a full plate. Brandon is another guest with a different perspective on public safety, drone operations because he’s been a manned aircraft pilot since 2006.

[00:00:22]You worked hard and earned his commercial pilot ratings as well as becoming a certified flight instructor for single-engine airplanes, multi-engine airplanes, and trains, instrument pilots. And that’s quite an accomplishment. But that’s not all and is also the head honcho of the Gulf coast, regional public safety UAS response task force in Texas, comprised of over 85 agencies and 250 pilots that fly to assist police, fire, and other agencies with natural disasters and major incidents.

[00:00:54] Brandon, thank you so much for joining. My pleasure. It seems like I’ve had a series of games. Some have been manned aircraft pilots. So I’m a manned aircraft, commercial instrument-rated pilot. Also, I’ve been flying since 1988 with your background in manned aircraft.

[00:01:09]I’d love to hear your opinion about what new public safety drone pilots miss out on in their 60 questions. Multiple choice licensing thing. They didn’t learn by hanging out and spending time with a CFI and a cockpit. I think an enormous disservice that they have by only having a written exam.

[00:01:31] And I understand there’s some scaling they have to do with that, but it is understanding just how much a man pilot has to manage while he’s flying around in a blue sky event, much less, a major critical issue. And things get even more hazardous as they’re flying around and they come into an emergency.

[00:01:49] So it has that perspective and appreciation for just what all the manned aviation pilot has to go through to fly the plane, much less. Also, have to worry about drones; I think this is the biggest gap there for that. A new drone. Doesn’t get much instruction about things like risk management, aeronautical decision-making.

[00:02:08] And how does that impact their ability to make good decisions on the flight line? As we all know, the majority of crashes with airplanes happened because of human error. And that is that’s one of the bigger issues that they have unless they start to fly more and more. So there’s always the people who have a crash and the people who are going to crash right until they have that appreciation for what is going on and how to manage when everything is going wrong and how to troubleshoot problems on the fly.

[00:02:36] I think. That’s one of the bigger issues they have with not having a check ride at the end of getting their 107 license. It is having that examiner that just decides to pull out the choke on your plane while you’re flying

[00:02:47]or Jack the trim up. When you’re not looking, I think that’s one of the issues that they have on not understanding the risk management side of things. No, it’s a drone. It just flies. If something goes wrong, it comes straight down, no harm, no foul, but from a manned aviation perspective, that’s life.

[00:03:04]I think that’s, it is one of the bigger gaps that they have. And I think that there is significant training that could be implemented to help understand risk management a little bit better on both the 107 side and the manned aviation side to integrate with. So since we’re both manned aircraft and drone pilots, what do you think we can do to help drone pilots over that hurdle?

[00:03:26] One of the things that I run into is trying to explain something and I, bet you and I were the same when we were student pilots; we knew it. Right there. Wasn’t flawless check rights. Yeah. So how do we help the new drone pilot that doesn’t have much experience in aviation? To be aware of these issues.

[00:03:47] Because one of the things that I run into are guys that got involved in drones because the department was, they didn’t have much interest in aviation per se. And so when you start to talk about aerospace and other things, I’ve had people say to me, I don’t care about that. So I’ll do my own.

[00:04:03]Yep. I’ve talked to those agencies too. I think that is one of the biggest. The benefits a manned aviation pilot could have is to go out to those agencies and integrate with them. Even if you aren’t going to be flying around them, it does benefit the drone pilots to understand the perspective of a manned aviation pilot, especially knowing their capabilities. Can they just yank the plane up real quick and get out of the way?

[00:04:28] I don’t know. You can get a power-on stall here. That problem in helicopters is a little bit different; they also have their limitations. So I think that having that integration and having those manned aviation pilots go and talk to the drone pilots, not only will help the manned aviation pilots get a perspective on what the drones can and cannot do, but it’ll help the drone pilots on the flip side of that as well.

[00:04:48]One of the things I’ve done is invited drone pilots to fly with me in the airplane. And one of the things that they always walk away with. Uh, You can’t see a damn drone down there; yeah, it’s true. You can’t experience the fact that if you’re in the airplane looking down, there’s a lot of ground clutter, and everything kind of meshes together. If you’re on the ground, looking up with a blue sky, it’s easy to see the one or two planes in the air. So the expectation is that the aircraft are going to get out of the way.

[00:05:18]It’s not going to happen. No. Most aviation pilots are; they’ve been flying for a little while. They’ve also had bird strikes, right? Like the one when I had my first bird strike, I never saw the bird. I just heard. Boom. And then when we got on the ground were like, the heck was that, oh, there’s blood on our wing.

[00:05:31]And so it’s the same thing. We’re not going to see a drone. Yeah. Especially when they’re painting on the color of clouds and asphalt. There is a perspective there that could be learned from the drone pilot side of things. For sure. All right. You and I have both learned the best aviation lessons in life from unexpected learning opportunities.

[00:05:52]Oh, crap moments. We’ve all had. So trust me, I’ve learned over the years so much about what never to do again.

[00:06:00]Do you have any experiences like that in an airplane or with your drone that you’d like to share so that others can learn easily? So the first time, I tried to kill my flight instructor, and I wasn’t doing my private pilot side of things. We were coming into land at one of our touch-and-go airports out in the middle of nowhere, the west side of Houston.

[00:06:18] And that was when I first really got really good training on crosswind landings.

[00:06:22]So private pilot, not a whole lot of flight time. I’m coming into land, and of course, right when I’m crabbing nice, and into the land, I got this and the gust. And both of us were like, oh God, full power go around. So that’s when I got my first real appreciation for crosswind landings and how much gusts can push you around.

[00:06:41]That also got taken in with drone work. Flying around buildings and flying around critical infrastructure and whatnot, those windows are just as pertinent on unmanned aircraft as they are manned aircraft. And so, having an appreciation for when paying attention to what the gusts are looking like, the METAR may not always show it.

[00:07:01]And so you gotta have to pay attention to that. Pay attention to that effect of turbulence. It’s coming up. And then mechanical turbulence coming around, and pay attention. I think that is that’s one of the bigger takeaways from the manned aviation side of things for the unmanned aviation side of things; it’s paying attention to your battery life is having a tromp across fields and have it try and find your drone in the middle of next to a flooded riverbank is not the most fun things to do.

[00:07:27]But But yeah, it just goes into that risk management, right? Paying attention, not accepting risk when it doesn’t outweigh the benefits, don’t outweigh it. Don’t accept any unnecessary risks. Yeah. I’m always on a broken record when it comes to risk versus reward unless you’re willing to take on that liability for making that decision personally.

[00:07:44] It’s just not worth making that flight. Brandon, how does the new inexperienced pilot Just gotten his 107, or has his agency just certified them under a COA, which is crazy. But the story of how does that pilot says no, I’m not going to fly to his commanding officer. So really hammering home.

[00:08:05]It’s not the commanding officer. Who’s on the line. It’s the pic. You’re right. It’s the supervisor. Has it been breathing down your neck fly. And that goes into the impulsivity side of things, going into those hazardous attitudes and understanding how to combat those.

[00:08:18]It’s a very real thing. We always laughed at it, machoism and impulsivity and whatnot; they are alive, and well, they are a thing. So I think that. I think that them going in and understanding that if you’re going to go and you’re going to fly a drone, and sure you’re going to just find nothing’s going to happen.

[00:08:34]Then vulnerability, nothing’s going to happen to me go and fly the drone, and something bad does happen. Your drone program essentially is grounded. Not only because you’ve just smoked your drone on a tree because you weren’t paying attention to or power line because any collision won’t find the power lines.

[00:08:48]Now your drone program is dead in the water because you decided to. Go and fly anyway. And he didn’t do a good enough job having situational awareness, doing a risk-benefit analysis, and you flew, and now you have some problems on the flip side of things. If everything goes right, we’ve me wearing a police badge.

[00:09:03] Now you went and violated somebody’s rights because you didn’t have the legal backing to do what you did. Having their legal analysis as part of the risk-benefit analysis that you should be doing they are imperative, and they are. A massive portion of any successful drone program, whether it’s a commercial or public safety, you have to do it.

[00:09:23] It is very necessary. So it’s funny. When I first started flying drones in 2014, I was like, I am finding every opportunity. And it’s now 2021. And I don’t know if I should admit this, but now I find every opportunity not to fly, right? Because I have learned gravity always wins. The drone is going to fail at the worst possible time.

[00:09:50] It’s, it’s going to come down all these new rules and regulations. And as you mentioned, whether you. You are flying under a government agency self-certification or your part 107 pilot. The liability ends with the pilot. So you are always personally liable. You can never get around that.

[00:10:11] So you have to wonder, am I willing to risk what assets I have at home and everything else to do something that has no possible chance of an outcome? So here’s a quick example. And then you give me one that’s similar. I was called in by emergency management to find a missing man. I got there to the scene.

[00:10:31] It was getting towards dark wasn’t dark yet. And the man’s son was there. Please help find my father. I can’t find my father. I turned to emergency management, and I said, what was the last sighting? And they said the day before yesterday. Where the hell am I going to look? The whole state? So have you done that shown up at a scene and just bad intelligence and no place to look

[00:10:58] yeah. Last night, actually, we got a drone to call out. We had a missing person in mutual aid from one of the neighboring counties. They had a missing juvenile, and they were having a hard time locating her, but they just didn’t; they just didn’t do a good enough job of really. They were going through due diligence to try and find her without having to put assets in the air.

[00:11:15]The last ping was at a Walmart, and the last time they talked to her that she said she was at a park, and the officers that were working that area just weren’t somewhat new. And But the search area that they were trying to give us was just absolutely massive. Like it wasn’t just me, they needed to get a call that I needed to bring out our whole team.

[00:11:32]And so we started asking questions, like when was the last time we talked to were, do you have any other information that we may be able to benefit from? They’re like she says she was near a park. Did you check the park? That’s right by Walmart. What park right next to Walmart. That one right over there.

[00:11:45] Oh, and sure enough, there she is. We try to. We try to mitigate risks by, has all of the due diligence been accomplished before we go and try and put drones in the air. Cause I’m like you have, when we first got these drones out burglary alarm, let’s check the roof, nobody knows.

[00:12:01] So let’s check it. We did the same thing, and it’s, I think it’s good to have that drive, but it’s also good to be cautious because. Again, if you don’t want to, you don’t want to put that drone in the air, and when something goes wrong, and then you have to type the letter. Dear chief, no one was more surprised than I was.

[00:12:18] I didn’t do a preflight check. And now my drone smoked. You’d mentioned the power lines earlier, and I just remembered I have this other website report drone accident.com. And I just had somebody submit a Mavic accident and actually sent in the footage of the Mavic hitting the power.

[00:12:36]Yeah, I almost at one they’re doing the same thing and not accepting any extra risk. I was flying a little bit further than I probably should have been. And I got close to a power line and my depth perception at night. Oh yeah. Perfect. Dead on, I was flying, and I’m like, what is that? That, there’s something weird in my thermal here, I don’t know what that is and that it clicked, oh, crap. I’m in the power lines. So I just had it back right on out I made it in. I can make it out. Oh my God. Like it’s straight on out. It just wasn’t paying attention, and that’s a big factor.

[00:13:04] Yeah. Tell us about some tough calls that you’ve had. Like those haven’t been tough enough where you’ve had complex issues to deal with, whether it’s intelligence or location or atmosphere airspace. All sorts of things to give us some examples. So I got two good ones. The first one was we had the lone star rally down here in Houston or down in Galveston.

[00:13:24] I should say we did a mutual aid with them. We had good reports. FBI was out there. DPS was out there. The rangers were out there. Everybody was out there. We had good Intel that rival gang bangers of a motorcycle gang. Flex their turf down there at the lone star rally. And they were afraid that there was going to be another major shootout because we had just had the Waco shooting not too long ago.

[00:13:42] And so they thought it was going to be another event. And so they wanted. Eyes on this guy, 24 7 at various strongholds for those motorcycle gangs, and Galveston is a class Delta airspace, and the vast majority of the island is a zero grid. Naturally, they called me out the day of, and they’re like, we want you to be out there for three days.

[00:14:01] I’m like it’s a 90-day process. You go through drones. So right. You probably, if you want to be here, you probably should’ve let me know ahead of time. But I called the SGI, went through the SGI process, was called the SOC in DC, let them know what we had going on. And that was difficult because they did not understand the emergency.

[00:14:20] And so they didn’t want to approve the ECOA because there nobody was shooting each other yet. And so I had to explain to them that this could pop off at any time. We’re trying to make sure that we can mitigate that from happening. And for four hours trying to explain to the SGI process that’s going on.

[00:14:38] I had Galveston breathing down my neck fly, fly, fly? Who’s going to report you. You’re the police, type thing. And I’m like, I’m not risking my program just because you want me to put a drone in the air right here. That’s a violation as a plus. Odds are because Murphy’s law is alive and well, odds are, I’m going to see a probable cause that we could go and arrest this guy on.

[00:14:57] And I can’t use it because it’s an illegal flight. I’m not doing it. So that was. Hectic. Eventually, I got the SGI for three days. It’s from my understanding it’s the longest ECOA that’s been approved so far, which was awesome, and everything went great. No issues really there we were; it had to manage airspace with manned aviation with a couple of other drones in the air.

[00:15:16] We had counter UAS operations happening against us from them. So that was interesting because I’m sure they didn’t have a waiver. That was. The first time that we started seeing counter UAS operations conducted again. Isn’t it only a matter of time before somebody shoots down?

[00:15:30] Yeah. A legitimate drone in operation, for sure. For sure. Sure. It’s going to happen. I’d be very surprised if it hasn’t already happened, and it just never made mainstream news. So that was the first one. The other one was the George Lloyd internment. He endorsed Lloyd is buried 200 feet from my police department.

[00:15:48] And so we, I set up a TFR for the airspace, so I wanted to lock down the airspace of the week and have multiple drones in the air. Not have a chaotic event. So we had to manage airspace with our UAS operations and then multiple other agencies who were also assisting us. And we integrated into it; we had as many as ten drones in the air at any given time, all sending in data and to the EOC so that everybody can see their everybody’s feeds and know where everybody was.

[00:16:15] So managing the airspace for that was. Task. I ran here. I was air boss for that. So that was interesting to have to manage all of that. Again, we had counter UAS operations there as well. And, but it was a good operation. Now we learned a whole lot figuring out how to coordinate airspace and set different altitudes for everybody, just like we do in manned aviation.

[00:16:36] And having that perspective also helps figure that stuff out faster. But that is, those are the two bigger operations we have, or we had to learn a whole lot and understand knowing what manned aviation capabilities are and knowing what drone capabilities really help make that smooth. But I think it’s important for any agency that is going to have a larger drone operation that has to integrate with manned aviation, whether it’s a neighboring agency or otherwise; I think it’s important for them to really understand that perspective for them to be successful.

[00:17:05] You mentioned a very good point, which was just recently I talked to Jonathan. he’s a drone aviation attorney, and he was saying that one of the things that he looks for. As an Attorney is whether or not the agency flying has violated any of the rules right. In compliance, because then he’ll use that to pick apart if you’re willing to do that.

[00:17:29] What else? Yeah, so even before you’ve taken off, Yeah, and it’s important. And that was one of the reasons why Pearland pushed to have there beyond visual line of sight waiver because most operations that we’re doing occurred, in a distance that we would need a BVLOS, a waiver.

[00:17:46] And luckily, we were the first year of the second agency in the nation to get the tactical beyond visual line of sight waiver approved. And now we’ve, I’ve met a guy that makes it easier for everybody to get it so that everybody can be compliant. Because unfortunately, I know that there’s a ton of agencies out there that apply beyond visual line of sight.

[00:18:01] And. Let’s try to make it legal. Do you know what I mean? Let’s talk about the ultimate coordination of aviation assets. You said that you did some work with combining both manned and unmanned aircraft? It’s one thing to fit them together in the airspace, but have you done any work of actually having them on the same incident working together?

[00:18:22]Oh, yeah. There are multiple incidents that we’ll have a suspect loose. And because drones were just so much faster response, I can get them in the air in no time. Versus, you got to do preflight check on the helicopter, which takes way longer than on a drone. And then you gotta fly on scene.

[00:18:35]I’ve been multiple events doing a search for a person, whether it’s a missing person or a suspect where I’ll have lower altitude. A hundred to 200 feet, and then they have from 400 and up. And it’s been a non-issue. We’ve had several incidents where we’ve searched for suspects, or we’ve had at least two drones in the air.

[00:18:52] We had a helicopter and fixed-wing all looking for the same suspects. It’s just a matter of being sure to understand where everybody is going to be and make sure that everybody maintains their hard decks and so that we don’t have any kind of conflict; I carry around an aviation radio on my backpack.

[00:19:06]Being a manned aviation side of things, I have the permits to do that. And then we also talk on a, on radio and make it easy for us to communicate as well. It can be done very safely. You just have to maintain effective communication that the minute that effective communication was gone and you gotta really be careful.

[00:19:22] Have you had a situation where the manned aircraft was directing the drones, where to go. We’ve had that a handful of times, and usually, it’s not manned aviation is providing direction to drones unless they are running out of gas, and they got to get out of there because they showed up late.

[00:19:41]Or they, they had been flying all day, and then we got the call right at the end of their shift. And so they hadn’t filled up. And so they would say, Point of interest. So we’ve got a heat signature, or we’ve got an odd coloration in the ground over there. Let’s get a drone over there, and then we got a bug out.

[00:19:54]So we’ve had that usually it’s first come first serve from the, it’s a little bit of a race to try and figure out who can find them first. And was it the drone or the manned aviation? My main thing about it, though, guys, for the listeners on here, It can be a competition.

[00:20:06] It can be fun, but understand that you’re running. Our most expensive platform is the M300; it’s a $20,000 system. The camera alone is 10, right? The manned aviation equipment, nine times out of 10, is way better than what you have. Yeah. Yeah. The thermal equipment, right? Yeah. You just can’t compete.

[00:20:23]And so if they say ground, let them do their job at the end of the day that we want to have a safe operation. You don’t want to; you don’t want to have that. Machoism where you’re just like, no, I got the drone, and I’m going to fly, no matter what, you just can’t compete with their equipment.

[00:20:35]I had a military drone pilot tell me that with their thermal cameras on the military drones, he said, Steve, I’m not exaggerating. I can read a license plate at 19,000. Yeah. He said with a Mavic; I can’t tell a horse from a deer at a hundred. Even with the, yeah. Even with the M 300 and the H 20 T, which is the most advanced platform that we fly, you’re just; it’s awesome.

[00:20:59] Don’t get me wrong. It’s great to have; it’s a huge force multiplier. If you’re going to compare him to manned aviation, they’re not comparable. You’re comparing a civic to a Ferrari. It’s just not going to happen. All right. Three skills or aviation mindset items. Do you think new public safety pilots should hunt down and make an effort to learn more about crew resource management?

[00:21:19] With manned aviation, we try to make sure that we bring in as much as we can to understand the flight. If we can have extra people to help us make good decisions, to help us watch the gauges to help us, we’ll look for emergency landing zones. Our flight is safer. I see too many drone pilots out there just trying to do all of it on them.

[00:21:38] If you can bring more people out, bring more people out, conversely don’t bring the entire army if you don’t need an entire army. So understanding crew resource management is a big one. Does it understand what hardware equipment do you need to make? Do you have enough of it? What personnel do you have?

[00:21:53] Do you have enough of it and informational resources as well as is another key component? I think drone pilots as a whole don’t really. Don’t really take advantage of crew resource management as well as they should. So that’s going to be the first one paramount; in my opinion, that’s interesting because of crew resource management; I was flying yesterday.

[00:22:12]So I’m Fire Demon 1 when I’m flying in the airplane, and I was flying, and I had a brand new person. And before we got on the plane, I made him do the checklist, the preflight and walked him through it. So he understood the airplane and understood in the airplane. I don’t care how many hours I have.

[00:22:32] If you see something, say something, we’re a team, we’re crew, we’re working together. There’s no one more important. So the same thing on the ground, right? Yes. Yeah. The big one would be communication because we are big. As manned aviation pilots, we’re big on communication, right? We’re always reporting where we’re at with, whether it’s in the path that we’re communicating with approach, make sure that we got good fly following.

[00:22:54] We don’t want to get lost. And so we are; we’re very keen on making sure that we always know where we’re at, and we’re always communicating that. And I think that. Drone pilots also could really benefit from that. It’s one of the key components when I’m training people on to really focus on because, yeah, you may have a good flight.

[00:23:12]Yeah. It’s really difficult to explain where that missing juvenile is next to a tree in a field. Like how do you tell, how do you tell people on the ground? Yeah, he’s by the tree, right? It’s easy if it’s a crossroad, but it’s not always going to be a crossroad. So you really gotta practice communication on how you’re going to communicate aerial observation to people on the ground, especially if they don’t know what your capabilities are.

[00:23:33] So, I think having that is a big takeaway. And we were then practicing pilot proficiency. So with the manned aviation side of things, we have to do our currencies. We have to do it every three months. We make sure we have our flights. There is no requirement for drone operations.

[00:23:46]We just have to make sure we get our recurrent every 24 months, and then we’re then, and they just made it even easier, which is being able to take the online test. And that’s it. There, there is no flight requirement. So really practice your currencies that apparently it has built into our policy that they have to fly every so many month.

[00:24:02] If they don’t, then they have to go through, they’re forced to go through proficiency training. And really practice it really take advantage of some of those call-outs that, if the risk-benefit is acceptable, Even if you don’t think you’re going to find them fly anyway, go out there and practice being safe.

[00:24:18] Go through the preflight checklist, go through the flight—all the safety features of being flying, and practice what you’re doing. Do your preflight post-flight check that way. You maintain your proficiency. So if you haven’t flown in months and you come back out there, and you’re not. You are trying to dust off the cobwebs.

[00:24:36] And as you fly that way, it keeps you; you’ve seen an update on all the things. It makes for a safer flight in a safer scene. That’d be my three. Excellent. Now those are actually really good points. I totally agree with you because. Just the basics of being able to, aviate navigate, communicate, just, I can’t tell you how frustrating it has been for me, me, for example, to be flying the drone, find a heat signature, and then say here are the GPS coordinates of the heat signature and have people go, what do I do with it?

[00:25:06] It’s not the time to figure that out. So you got to start with the very basics and get everybody to work together. Besides these tough calls that you’ve had. Have you had a situation where something didn’t go as you thought it would? Every flight? Yeah, we’ve had a few instances where we thought we had it down.

[00:25:22] We, we knew we’re going to get out there, and everything was going to go

[00:25:24] right,

[00:25:24] Steve: we did a good preflight checklist. Everything was ready to go. And then we get out there, and everything goes wrong with one of the bigger issues that we had recently where we had tropical storm Beta come through, and some apparently got flooded.

[00:25:36]We’re flying the M300, and The M 300 has it’s similar to the smart controller. So you’ve got the monitor built into your remote, right? The app crashed, and if the app crashes, you have no idea. If you still have connectivity with the drone, because with the, and even with the Mavic, with the original remotes, it still shows you connectivity.

[00:25:56]300 app crashes happen all the time. You don’t know if you have it or not. And making sure that you maintain a visual line of sight is imperative there, making sure that you have situational awareness of where your drone is imperative in there because if the app crashes and you don’t know where your drone is, what are you going to do?

[00:26:11]And for those who aren’t familiar with where Pearland is, we are that half of our city is class Bravo airspace to the surface because of hobby international airport is very close to where we are. So we have to make sure that we are on our game about where we are. We have a lot of air traffic over here.

[00:26:28] We have LifeFlight, that’s flying through. We have Houston fire Houston police department flying. They’ve manned aviation all over Pearland all the time. So we have to be on our game. And whenever you have that kind of stuff go wrong. If you haven’t practiced to that, you’re going to be a Creek and. And so it’s very important that you practice that kind of stuff.

[00:26:46] Practice failures. Don’t always practice successful flights practice, losing an app practice, losing connectivity, what’s going to happen. Let’s talk about that. I’m sure you’ve seen departments that like fire and police will share a drone. So you get called out to an incident fire had it last time.

[00:27:02]How do you know what the settings are? So in a situation like that, what would you recommend to departments that they come on shift? They work through it or what? So I think that it’s I think it’s imperative to have a preflight checklist and a vehicle checklist. So, whenever those agencies, I help set up programs for agencies all over the place.

[00:27:22] One of the things that we talk about, if you’re going to share drones like that, it’s eerily similar to a vehicle checkout. So if you have a shared vehicle program, you take the vehicle, you do a vehicle check of it before you ever go out on duty. If you all are going to share platforms like that, you also need to have that.

[00:27:38] Cause you need to make sure that the person before it didn’t crash into something and just miss it right. The other thing about that is, so I’m a mode three flyer. So if you’re in a DGI guy mode three, the sticks are all twisted up compared to the default. I got half the team that hates me for it.

[00:27:53]It’s a really good way to play tricks on people because most pilots being mode two left stick is up; for me, the stick is up. So if you switch it to mode three, the drone won’t take off. You can go full up all. And so it seems the way to play a prank on people.

[00:28:05] Just switch it over to that. If you don’t have the stick, the stick mode check, and your preflight check, you’re going to think something’s wrong with the drone, so if you’re going to have shared platforms like that, you really have to have a really good preflight checklist, and you really have to harp on it.

[00:28:20] You’ve got to make sure your guys are doing it. Cause it’s easy to just get the drone out, hold it out and turn it on, and hope it goes. It’s another thing to make sure that the stick bones are correct to make sure that the camera settings are right. So that’s what I would recommend to them is really built out the checklist to work well with both agencies and both departments.

[00:28:37]Hopefully, you have a spare crystal ball to pull out right now because I want you to tell us what for this field going forward and what the future is from your Point. Yeah. So a lot of people have heard that the drone was a first responder program. Now, if you haven’t, check out the Chula Vista police department; they have what’s called the drones.

[00:28:53] First responder program essentially is they get a 911 call. They put a drone in the air, and they fly to the scene. On average, they get a drone overhead in three minutes, which is faster than most people can get their vehicles to most scenes. They are uniquely positioned geographically to make that happen.

[00:29:10] They have the right amount of fire departments across the city to where makes it easy to overlap. But I think that’s where everything is headed currently. I think that we’ll probably see most agencies moving to that within the next five to 10 years to where it’ll be. You’ll be hard-pressed not to find an agency with that drone program.

[00:29:26]I think that’s where we’re headed. One of the things that kind of scares me about that is it’s most of those flights are done autonomously. On most of those flights, they see something going on; they just launched the drone. It goes to geolocation. But if you don’t understand how that drone operates, if you don’t understand how to look for errors and how to look for fit.

[00:29:42] You’re going to be in a lot of trouble if you just trust the computer to do it every single time, especially if you work in a congested airspace environment as I do. And so, I think that’s where everything is headed. I’m excited to see that because, As a patrolman, I would love to have a drone overhead for every scene that I go on. Do I need it?

[00:30:00] No. What? I like to have a drone there before I get there. Yes. Streaming live video to you, right? Like I would love to have that kind of Intel that helps me be safer. That helps me make safer decisions, which helps the citizens of Pearl and be safer.

[00:30:14]I think that it’s going to be huge. And I think it’s going to really change how a lot of people do policing allow a lot of people to do firefighting. I think that it’s a much-needed change that’s coming, but there’s going to be some growing pains for sure. So I’m excited about it.

[00:30:27]I think that’s going to be huge for us.

About Steve Rhode

The Public Safety Flight website is dedicated to news, honest information, tips, and stories about the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), UAVs, aircraft, and drones in the fire service and other public safety niches.The site was founded by Steve Rhode, an FAA-certificated airplane commercial and instrument certificated pilot and a very experienced Part 107 UAS commercial pilot. Steve is the Chief Pilot with the Wake Forest Fire Department and the North Carolina Public Safety Drone Academy. He also provides expert advice to drone pilots through Homeland Security Information Network and he is an FAA Safety Team drone expert. Steve loves to work closely with public safety pilots to answer questions and share information, real-world truth, and drone operation advice. You can contact Steve here, learn more about Steve here, or join his public safety pilot private email list here.

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