Jun 18 2015

Morpeth Quadcopter Pilot is Flying High

A drone pilot has impressed his training instructors by passing his flight test just one month after his theory exam. And he may just be the fastest in the country.

Commercial photographer Andrew Bryson, from Morpeth, started flying a camera drone to give his pictures a new dimension but, under Civil Aviation Authority rules, he needed to get a Permission for Aerial Work before he could use his radio controlled aircraft for commercial purposes. For most people this can take several months.

So Andrew turned to the company that had originally supplied his quadcopter, – Heliguy in North Shields on Tyneside. As well as supplying ready-made, multi-rotor aircraft and building larger, custom-built machines, Heliguy started running training courses for commercial drone pilots earlier this year. It works with a CAA approved National Qualified Entity, to provide a 4 day course on Tyneside.

On day one Andrew and his 15 fellow students were given lectures on the commercial UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) industry, how drones work (particularly DJI aircraft), and how to fly them safely. The course continued with modules including air law, principles of flight, regulation, meteorology and navigation.

The training culminates in a one and a quarter-hour theory exam. Andrew was a star pupil and scored 100%.

“I felt like Maverick from the film ‘Top Gun’,” he joked.


Star pilot Andrew Bryson flying his camera quadcopter on a Northumberland beach.

But Andrew then had to knuckle down again and prepare an Operations Manual for the CAA – an important document which sets out what his working and safety procedures as well as technical details of the equipment he’d be using.

Four weeks later came the practical exam. And it didn’t just involve flying his drone. Andrew had to carry out pre-flight checks for weather and air traffic as well as performing a site inspection and risk assessment. He had to brief his examiners, fly the missions he was given and then give a mission debrief. And of course he passed.

Sales Manager at Heliguy, Scott Henderson, said “Andrew is a shining example of what can be achieved on a commercial pilot’s course at Heliguy. UAV operators need to take their responsibilities seriously in this exciting and rapidly developing industry. Andrew was totally committed to get the best out of the course and then went on to pass his flight assessment in double-quick time despite having no previous aviation related experience.

“We work closely with many established UAV operators so we are well placed to advise newcomers about the best way to get off the ground. We are sure the success of people like Andrew will encourage other aspiring commercial drone pilots to work hard and realise their dream by signing up for a Heliguy course.”

The Head of Academy at RUSTA, the National Qualified Entity that Heliguy have partnered with to produce the course, Sion Roberts, added “Remote Pilots Course (theory) RPC (T) was designed by military trainers, from ex RAF Aircrew to ex RAF Engineers, and is designed to enable candidates with little or no aviation experience to have enough knowledge to operate SUAS safely and within the rules and regulations. It covers the basic topics needed for aviation. These topics for manned platforms are generally taught over a period of months, but as it’s only a 2.5 day course a lot of information is disseminated quickly and the candidate’s experience a very steep learning curve.

“We do not apologise for the heavy workload as we realise that soon enough these candidates will be flying their vehicles in National Airspace and have to be capable, responsible pilots.

“Andrew Bryson realised the gravitas of what was asked of him and applied himself 100% to the task at hand. Despite no aviation experience he scored an impressive 100% on the exam, wrote an above average Operations Manual in the required timeframe and passed his flight test with no problems. Andrew’s experience reinforces our mission objectives of turning people from all walks of life into competent small unmanned aviators who can operate efficiently, within the law but above all safely.”

You can read Andrew Bryson’s personal account of the course, more about training at Heliguy and about the range of radio controlled multi-rotor aircraft at


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