top of page

Access to Drones - Rotherfield Drone Flight School

For the last six months we have been in a planning process, preparing to launch our new course, ‘Access to Drones’ and are now in the final stages before going live.

Our mission is to set up a safe environment in which to offer a UAV Pilot training platform to people in the community who would not otherwise have the opportunity to operate drones, tailoring for age 16+. Suitable for people with disadvantages, challenging behavioural issues, demobilising health conditions, or social difficulties. We aim to inspire and support people with diverse needs, whatever their disability, and introduce UAV technology to the community as a therapeutic activity and development scheme for organisations or charities, across Sussex and Kent.

The project is designed to teach safety elements of operating drones, including: the drone code, CAA rules and regulations, and more advanced procedures when ready, both in theory and in practical scenarios. Bringing together a whole range of skills from piloting drones, flight ground crew responsibilities, videography, photography, mapping and 3D modelling.

Ed has been working closely with Laura Horn, Community Liaison Officer for Kent Police, and Janine Jacquin, Involvement Coordinator for Aspens, a charity that help children, young people and adults with a range of disabilities, those on the autism spectrum, and/or those with complex needs. Through the provision of highly personalised support, they aspire to enable people to learn new skills, live life to the full and contribute to society, however possible.

Laura and Janine are in full support of this project and together we have researched the benefits of developing this pilot scheme.

Laura says: “I can see many benefits from this project especially for people with Autism and learning disabilities, they will have something to focus on and there is also room for progression onto bigger and better drones. They will learn the safety aspects & rules of flying a drone which in this day and age is imperative. I do believe it will enhance their life experiences and is something really fun to get involved with.

Ed from Adventure Dog Productions says “The most challenging issue so far, has been to find a site where we can operate safely, which includes facilities and that has easy access, we hope to have this challenge solved very soon.

As the industry develops we are finding more and more restrictions in terms of airspace allocation, and the new registration scheme in November will regulate drone users even more. I think it is a necessary process to make the airspace safe for both unmanned and manned aviation, but we have to ensure there are areas in which hobbiest pilots learn their craft. It is necessary for the future progression of the industry.

The drone community is in constant review, regarding the dangers and risk of sharing airspace and the misuse of drones, although the majority of pilots operate legally and safely, and it is important that we emphasise and push forward the positive applications in which drones are being used and to educate on how to achieve this as a team and as individuals.

By 2020, the European Drone Regulation will be affective and the rules and regulations will be very different to how they exist currently. It is important that there is a go to place for pilots to share information and to educate the community, and it is schemes like this that will allow positive steps towards an acceptance on a wider scale of this exciting and revolutionary, cutting edge technology .

There are so many things that you can do with drones once you have the confidence and practical skills to do it; with the drones that we provide we can activate a beginners mode which limits the distance between the drone and the controller, meaning we can restrict the flight area until the operator can confidently operate. All trainee pilots will be accompanied and supervised by a qualified and approved commercial pilot with PfCO license, who can take command at any point. Training on fail safe procedures and GPS mode fail safe will be provided as standard and a full safety briefing will be provided prior to any flight.

Ed hopes that the first pilot scheme with Aspens, for people with Autism, will be a huge success and sees the benefits in two ways: firstly, training people to become confident UAV Pilots, but secondly, seeing the pilots benefitting from and experiencing, joint attention and sensory stimulation, developing social and communication skills, overcoming navigational challenges and hand eye coordination. Ed believes, as well as it being great fun and very engaging, that when you can operate confidently it makes you feel more empowered and in control, you are learning to manage planned and unplanned events, and improving your emotional regulation at the same time.

Early in Ed’s career he worked within the care support environment looking after the elderly and later with mentally handicapped people in a secure unit, and is aware how rewarding this type of experience can be.

As a youth, I attended activities such as canoeing, snooker, and Judo, and looking back at it now, I can see how these activities played a huge part in helping me to achieve my goals. It developed my confidence, increased my awareness and helped me to gain status within my social environment. Having a focus of a positive nature and gaining successes throughout, drove me to achieve more and gave me the spring board I needed to tackle everyday life and become more independent. It is essential that this type of activity is open to all, especially if you wouldn’t normally get the opportunity. It is such great hobby for anyone to take up and we welcome anyone to join us for a flight,” says Ed.

If you represent a charity or organisation and would like to discuss attending our flight school, please call 07791 305 346. Visit our website



bottom of page