FLIGHTS OF FANCY
Afriend of mine pilots a quadcopter UAV as a hobby, and having seen him in action, I have to say that he does it – like he does just about everything else – with great precision. But not necessarily with emotion, because I’ve never seen him hug his drone with quite as much fervour as Chris Townend is doing in the picture above.
For most of the rest of us, drones can give rise to emotion. To me, they are a bit like jetskis: you either have one and love them, or you hate them and want one.
The reason Townend loves his drone is that it has become an indispensable tool of his trade, which is photography and videography. As designs have become more sophisticated, others have caught on and I can think of at least three events I have taken part in – one of them involving cars travelling at high speed – that were recorded by impressively piloted camera-equipped drones.
Setting aside for a moment discussion of their more warlike purposes, there’s no question that bigger, more powerful and ultimately more dangerous flying objects of this sort pose a risk to conventional airborne traffic and the world at large. Part of that is because they have attracted a following that’s broader than the usual model-aircraft brigade. Their apparent appeal is that they seem to be, well, easy to fly. Even without the automated features built into many of them.
Of course, flying these machines as a hobbyist, within the limits of safety, privacy and applicable regulations, is something we should all feel free to be able to do. But when it comes to ongoing operations, possibly for gain, there’s a case to be made for setting standards. Which is why senior associate editor Lindsey Schutters found himself out in the Karoo at Drone Boot Camp (it’s not really called that, but it sounds appropriate), gaining insight into what it takes to become a certified UAV pilot. His story appears on page 42.
From hardware of the high-tech kind to hardware of the more familiar kind. In a certain part of town, you’ll still find the old-fashioned hardware store. You know the kind we’re talking about: interior lit by a flyspecked 60- watter, aroma that’s a combination of Jeyes Fluid and spirits of salts, walls and ceilings festooned with ironmongery (what a great word!) and staffed by ancient beings who know exactly where to lay their hands on a grub screw for a 1970s star pattern bibcock. Cavernous home centres and bright, newbie-friendly DIY franchise stores have taken over. Frankly, we love both kinds, for very different reasons. The question is, which one do you love? And why? We’re after South Africa’s favourite hardware store. Tell us which one revs your cordless drill and in a future issue we’ll honour the pick of the bunch. If by chance you know where I can lay my hands on a grub screw for a 1970s star pattern Cobra tap, even better. Two, if possible.
Finally, there are guitar players and then there are guitar players who make the rest of us want to donate our own instruments to the nearest bonfire. Local legend Robin Gallagher is one such and you can read his story in this month’s How Your World Works. And the point of this? Besides being an ace player, Gallagher knows a thing or two about collectable guitars. Which provided just the impetus we needed to commence digging into the world of collecting and collectors, which we plan to visit on a regular basis in the months ahead.