On a rain-sodden Saturday morning in November, the CAA collaborated with Compton Abbas airfield in Dorset to host the first ever 'Share the Air' drone education day.
“Is this a drone event or a drown event?” joked Clive Hughes, owner of Compton Abbas, as he welcomed a shivering huddle of a 100 guests to his atmospheric aircraft hangar - once home to a museum of aviation in film.
Bringing GA and drone pilots together
Hughes, a pilot of 47 years, says that flight safety and sharing knowledge are top priorities at Compton Abbas - and this underpins what 'Share the Air' is all about. 'We are in this together,' was his message of the day, with the gathering of General Aviation (GA) and drone pilots all receptive to the fact that airspace needs to be shared safely, vigilantly and sensibly if we are to successfully navigate this new frontier in aviation.
The CAA's Jonathan Nicholson, who runs the drone awareness campaign, highlighted the importance of collaboration and understanding between GA and drone communities, and dipped into upcoming legislation changes and EASA's new rules for Europe (which will soon cover drones).
An A-Z of drone safety
Flying and photography tips were shared by Simon Smith of the Phantom Flight School (the UK's first drone flying school), while Phil Binks from NATS talked about the Drone Assist app, an immensely useful tool geared toward 'flyers unfamiliar with industry speak'.
Drone stalwarts and newbies alike showed off their flying reflexes on a variety of drone simulator games provided by V-Mach media, a VR specialist. BALPA were on hand to answer questions and welcome drone pilots into the GA fold. Even the drone division of the local police force popped in to chat to flyers about drone best practice.
The day ended with an outdoor display by drone manufacturers Yuneec, who had some impressive, powerful models to show off.
Host your own 'Share the Air' day
While we plan to hold a similar event in Spring 2018, we want to inspire as many GA airfields as we can to run their own events and spread the Drone Safe message.
If you are an airfield and would like to put on a 'Share the Air' event, we have made a virtual toolkit for you to use, which can be downloaded here: http://dronesafe.uk/resources/ga/.
The kit includes everything from marketing material to an editable presentation and branded information cards for guests.