WID

Only 24% of the workforce within the UK private security sector is female, and only 6% of the workforce in the UK drone sector is female.

TLP Ltd. are drone security specialists, pioneering the way forward with drone security solutions to reduce risk and cost to our clients – this pioneering approach to reducing risk and cost is what made me first join TLP Ltd.

I’m Samantha, and I have been working in Operational Support for TLP Ltd., when I was given the opportunity by the company to become a drone pilot, my answer was yes – without a doubt or second thought!

This blog aims to highlight my journey from flying a desk to flying drones, and working frontline delivering TLP Ltd. drone security and public safety solutions for our clients.

As well as aligning how our training for frontline staff enables us to deliver our services for our clients safely and effectively, the blog will also highlight both the enjoyable aspects of my role and training, as well as the challenges that can come from working in two male-dominated sectors.

If you have any questions about my blog or our services here at TLP Ltd., please do email me.

Blog Post Five Tuesday 25th May

In my last blog post I reported that I had completed all my theory learning, well, that learning has now been signed off and approved by Coptrz Academy – having never done distance learning before, I am seriously pleased with this achievement.

I am currently waiting to sit my A2 ‘C of C’ exam, before I can sit this, I need to have my flight hours approved by Coptrz, as a trainee drone pilot I have to complete a minimum of four hours.  This had been completed and submitted to Coptrz, however, it wasn’t clear that a full flight log needed to be submitted (with location details, take off, landing times, and drone used).  Instead, I submitted the flight log we use to submit to the Civil Aviation Authority, which is a more condensed version of the full flight log.  So a bit of a delay while I re-submit the full flight log, wait for that to be approved, and then get my exam login details – hopefully in my next blog I will have a more positive update on this.

Despite all my training recently on weather management, I think it is fair to say that you don’t need to be an expert to realise how grim the weather has been this month!  Within TLP we do have the kit and experience to fly in nearly all weather conditions, however, that is specialist kit and requires extensive experience – definitely not one for a trainee drone pilot to be practising before they qualify.  The best way to describe it is it’s like learning to drive, you start off learning with a ford fiesta in the daylight, then when you pass your driving test you progress onto something sportier than a fiesta and start driving in different conditions – and becoming a Commercial Drone Pilot is no different.

TLP work with Security Companies or Enforcement Agencies often involves providing overwatch service or searching a location for intelligence, a suspect, and/or a specific vehicle.  To do this we fly in patrol corridors, essentially this involves flying in a snake or extended ‘S’ position, the corridors can be as long and wide/narrow as needed.  Flying in this formation ensures that when we provide overwatch or are searching an area, we can be confident that we are maximising our view of that area.  When I started learning to fly, I did not completely appreciate how learning to fly in different shapes (figure of eights, capital letters, squares, etc.) would help me in delivering drone security and public safety solutions for our clients.  I can now appreciate why we start learning to fly in these formations, it's not the shape that is important it’s about having safe control of the drone.  All be it a small patrol corridor, I think it's fair to say my first attempt at flying in a patrol corridor was a relative success – using those early skills of flying in shapes to progress my ability onto flying in formations that we use with clients.

The plan for my learning now is to take my A2 C of C exam, continue safe aircraft handling techniques including learning more flying formations we use for our clients, and start preparing for my Security Industry Authority (SIA) course in June.

Blog Post Four.  Monday 10th May.

It is hard to believe it has been just over three weeks since I wrote a blog article,  most of which has been spent on leave, the rest has been focusing on my studies to become a commercial drone pilot.

I am super excited to inform you that I have completed all my theory learning, I have passed one theory exam scoring 93%, and passed my first internal flight assessment scoring 86%!

To be honest, I am not one for exams (who is?!?!), so the prospect of taking my first theory exam online, with a remote invigilator filled me with dread.  However, even though I had some IT issues between the compatibility of my computer and the Proctor-U remote invigilator software, the process was not as painful as feared.  My top tip would be if you are using a MacBook Pro to access Proctor-U, be patient, their tech support is awesome.

My first internal drone flight assessment was both challenging and adrenaline pumping, being assessed on my ground risk management skills, aviation risk management techniques, handling of the drone in flight, and knowledge of TLP drone emergency drills – was as full-on as it sounds.  I have to say the best part of becoming a commercial drone pilot is the buzz of not just flying, but safe flying – even if flying the drone at 400ft makes you stretch your neck in ways it was never designed for!

What does all this mean though if your one of TLP clients, or are thinking of contracting TLP to provide you with drone security or public safety solutions?  I am being trained by one of the leading commercial drone company’, Coptrz, their clients include everyone from the Military, Emergency Services, to SME’s.  Internally with TLP, I am being trained by someone who not only was also trained by Coptrz, but has extensive experience using multi-rotor drones, and a strong career formed with both the British Army and Police.  I have seen in my role within Operational Support, TLP says yes to companies requesting drone security services where other drone companies have said no, and often wondered how we can say "yes".  I now understand why TLP can say yes to rapid drone deployment requests; why we can deploy in environments where the drone launch site for example is between a prison, an airport, a housing estate, and a railway line; why we can monitor situations on the ground gathering key intelligence, without putting ground resources at risk or inflaming situations; why we can deploy at night in both urban and rural environments.  The answer is simple, the training we receive as trainee commercial drone pilots for TLP is robust, developmental, and fully supported by highly experienced professionals.

So what is next I hear you ask…..well, I have one more theory exam to take, three more internal flight assessments, and then my final flight test.

Blog Post Three.  Thursday 15th April.

It's fair to say these past few weeks have been a steep learning curve in my professional development, but the hard work is paying off – I have taken my first theory mock exam and scored 93%!  So, as I come to the end of my A2 ‘C of C’ course, and prepare to take my live theory exam – I can start my flight training.  I probably have been a bit grumpy at times with my learning because I wanted to start flight training sooner.  However, my trainer was right (I couldn’t tell him that though!!), all my theory and table-top exercises now all make sense as I start my flight training.  Because all that groundwork means I have a solid starting point to learn how to fly a drone, as I can take all my theoretical knowledge into the field which puts me in a much stronger and safer position as a Trainee Drone Pilot.

Flying a drone is very much like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time, it is about getting your brain to command your hands to do different things at the same time, whilst at the same time you monitor the drone in flight and monitor the control screen for real-time flight information.

I wasn’t sure why my trainer when he gave me my pre-flight briefing, told me he was going to get me to fly shapes, yes shapes – squares, triangles, circles, rectangles etc.  I am sure even you are asking why (just like I did) was this necessary?  Well, I have a newfound respect for small children drawing shapes for the first time – it's super tough!!  TLP Operate in a variety of environments, from urban to rural and everything in between, and being able to control the drone is key to delivering safe services – and this shape drawing/flying really is a technical skill that will help me deliver our core services when and where our clients need us regardless of the operating environment.

We have all heard the buzz words around communication and effective communication in business, but when it comes to acting as a spotter for the drone pilot to advise of any air incursion risks – communication is definitely key.  This last week saw my first taste of this with our in-house radio communications training, I am not one for role play so it's fair to say I did giggle quite a bit, however, from acting as a spotter for the drone pilot to radio communications in security - this is my next skill to master.  When listening to a radio channel to elicit key information, often information that can only be relayed once, is both exhausting mentally and exhilarating and it is definitely going to give me another skill that will be transferable to my desk role within Operational Support.

In my first blog post, nearly four weeks ago now, I talked of the challenges of fitting the female form into a security uniform designed predominantly for the male figure.  There have been some tweaks to my uniform since then, but I would love to connect with any females in security that have experience with these challenges and found a ‘female solution’.  I am not yet on LinkedIn, so please do drop me an email, it would be good to talk.

The plan then for me over these coming two weeks is to pass two internal flight assessments, and take my live theory exam – fingers crossed then there will be some good news to celebrate in my next blog post.

 

Blog Post Two.  Thursday 1st April.

It’s been two weeks since my first blog post, and what a two weeks it has been!  My training as a Commercial Drone Pilot for TLP Ltd. is in addition to my normal duties within Operational Support, which recently has been focusing on preparing for our first accreditation audit at the end of March – and there is some exciting news to come!

We all have different styles of learning, and to be honest I much prefer being in a classroom, learning through the interactivity of a tutor and fellow students.  That said, the online learning with Coptrz is absolutely brilliant!  It is a mix of module learning, videos, and quizzes to test your knowledge as you progress towards your theory exam.  I am now nearly halfway through my theory learning, and have covered everything from ground and air risk assessments; aviation law; Civil Aviation Authority regulations; weather management; to name but a few of the modules I have completed.  This theory work is the foundations of ensuring that when we are working with our clients, our in-depth training means that we can operate safely and reduce risk for our clients and members of the public.  It is more than just about removing risk, we are professionals, and for TLP Ltd. being  safe and competent sits at the core of our values – and this training from Coptrz will help me deliver these values.  That is why we at TLP Ltd. fully support ‘Operation Foreverwing’, the new initiative from the Civil Aviation Authority and National Police Chiefs Council ( https://dronesaferegister.org.uk/blog/drone-safe-register-welcomes-increased-enforcement-surrounding-drone-crime ).  ‘Operation Foreverwing’ is tackling the issue of rogue drone pilots, to put this into context in the last five months there have been 336 drone crimes where drone pilots have failed to abide by the rules and regulations – this includes Commercial Drone Pilots.  There is good and bad in every profession, and one thing I have enjoyed about working in Operational Support is the public engagement, talking to people about the safe use of drones.  As Commercial Drone Pilots (and as trainee’s) we are in a unique position to help people be safer drone pilots, and I am definitely looking forward to sharing the knowledge that I am currently learning with our clients and members of the public.

What is business efficiency?  Do you wait for something to go wrong in your business before you correct it?  Part of my training during these past two weeks has been to take part in table-top exercise’s, these exercises involve being given a training scenario and for me to explain what I would do or could be doing in that scenario.  My trainer then adds in the “what if”, these what if’s have included what if there was a fire on the drone; what if the drone stops responding to the controller; what if there is an air incursion – and these were only a few of the what if’s I was given.  I was absolutely exhausted at the end of my first tabletop exercise as the what if’s kept coming constantly, making you change what you planned on doing, to deal with the ‘what if’.  I have always understood business efficiency, but having had an introduction to thinking “what if” something goes wrong before it does, will definitely make me a more competent Commercial Drone Pilot – as well as giving me skills that will enhance my work within Operational Support.

Blog Post One.  Tuesday 16th March 2021.

Welcome to my first blog post! My first, but fun challenge this week was being issued all my uniform, kit, and PPE.  Staff welfare and comfort is always paramount within TLP Ltd., that said though trying to fit the female form into personal protective equipment designed predominately for the male species was certainly ‘interesting’.

Working in Operational Support for TLP Ltd. I have always had oversight of our ‘Flight Deployment Packs’, these are packs that we build for each of our drone flights, within these packs are our: initial assessments for our clients; pre and on-site risk assessments; and mapping.  What I never truly understood was how safe we keep our clients and the wider public during a drone flight, it is going to be a steep learning curve learning all the Civil Aviation Authority regulations and how our internal policies marry up with these regulations.

I have also had the chance to log on to my learning account with our trusted training provider Coptrz for my  ‘GVC A2 C of C’ course, translated, this is the qualification I need to be a Commercial Drone Pilot in the UK.  I have started on module one (always a good place to start), and it’s got a nice feel and learning style – definitely lots of studying required though to enable me to become a safe and competent Drone Pilot.

From my online learning and preparation for my flight test with Coptrz through to learning our internal polices, I certainly have an element of fear about the amount of studying ahead of me.  However, I relish the opportunity to work in this sector, drawing on my own experience of building start-up businesses – this fear is conquerable!