I use “I” and “we” pretty interchangeably here on the site so I thought I’d use today’s blog post to discuss that and what each word means for you, the customer.
95% of the time, your engagement will probably be with just me. In most circumstances, I am capable of balancing and handling all of the nuances necessary to make sure that your flight is handled successfully and safely, while also working to ensure that you get the best results possible, regardless of the operation.
There are times, however, where my limits are exceeded for what I believe I can safely handle. And, in those situations, I may enlist help and bring them along. By default, these additional hands are a part of my flight crew and a part of the aircraft’s operation. Here’s what each person’s job is:
Remote Pilot in Command
That’s me. As an FAA-licensed remote pilot, I have ultimate responsibility and authority for the safe operation of the aircraft – regardless of whether or not I’m at the controls. That’s it – period.
A visual observer (or VO) is someone (or multiple people) I may bring along to keep a watchful eye on the drone while it’s in the air. This is particularly helpful at longer ranges or in situations where crosswinds or gusts (like those that happen between tall buildings) can affect flight dynamics. While not a substitute for me having the drone in line of sight (which is required regardless), the VO allows me to focus on camera and flight operations while they ensure that nothing is threatening the drone or that the drone isn’t threatening anything nearby. They also keep their eyes open for other aircraft, birds, or anything else that may be using the same airspace.
Person at the Controls
Depending on the situation, this may or may not be me. In some of the most complex operations, I may have someone at the controls who is working with a team of visual observers while I oversee the overall operation. This is more of a tactical situation where I want to focus all of my attention on the operation at hand and direct as I see fit, while other people then execute on that direction and make it happen. It is worth noting that even though I am not at the controls in this situation, I am still operating as the Remote Pilot in Command and have ultimate authority over the operation, as well as ultimate responsibility for making sure that the operation is conducted safely and legally.
So that’s that! Bet you didn’t know there would be a chance of an entire flight crew showing up for your engagement! And, again, while the chances of this being necessary are not significant, they are still present. This makes it worth mentioning in advance (also because there may be times where I bring someone out for training even when the flight itself may not necessitate additional crew).