Heliguy Interviews Leeds Beckett University

Heliguy Interviews Leeds Beckett University

Heliguy interview Leeds Beckett University UAV Operations Manager about his use of drones commercially and as part of education.

Last updated: Mar 11, 2021

4 minute read

This month, heliguy™ Insider had the opportunity to speak to Adrian Appleyard, UAV Operations Manager at Leeds Beckett University where he teaches BA and MA students aerial cinematography, a commercial drone pilot and Co-Director of Sky Captain Aerial Imaging, as well as a valued heliguy™ customer. Adrian has been building and flying UAVs for over 40 years but became interested in drones in early 2015 and gained his permissions to operate as a commercial drone pilot. He currently is Chairman of one of the largest model flying clubs in the UK associated with the BMFA, and a former BMFA Chief Examiner for Helicopters and holds BMFA B certs for fixed and rotary wing aircraft allowing him to fly at public displays.  Adrian’s also enjoys FPV racing but admits he is no expert in this revolutionary new sport. It’s fair to say, Adrian has a wide range of experience, from photography and design to health and safety, to engineering. He was even a Roboteer on the hit BBC show, Robot Wars. Keep reading for more about Adrian’s work and how he’s using drones. Adrian Appleyard - Inspire 1 Pro V2



Tell us a little more about the courses at Leeds Beckett University

I support Central Marketing with all aerial work for publicity purpose and undertake building inspections for Estates Services. I also deliver training to both undergraduate and masters students studying Film and Television specifically in the field of Cinematography. For this, a duel system is used allowing students to operate the camera gimbal system whilst fly the drone. I assist students across the region with shoots, using drones to create the best video images. Additionally, I train undergraduate Building Surveying students whilst they undertake their practical surveys of buildings. For example, students survey a building using traditional methods, such as a cherry picker, then compare the results against using a drone. I have also been researching into LiDAR and Photogrammetry and how this fits into BIM (Building Information Modelling) as well as working with 3D Laser Mapping company. Our drone is also fitted with an Optris pi 450 thermal camera used to support Leeds Sustainability Institute who carry out thermal inspections on buildings as part of their research work. I have also recently reverse engineered a bespoke gimbal so it can be operated from a 10m inspection pole providing greater use of the camera.

What equipment do you use for teaching students and why?

I use a Sky Jib X4 Ti-QR with a Canon 5D or GH4 camera, and an Inspire 1 Pro V2 Black with x5 camera fitted with 12mm, 15mm, 35mm and zoom lenses. Both drones operate as a two-person crew. Adrian Appleyard - Sky Jib X4 Ti-QR

Why do you think it’s beneficial for students to learn how to use drones?

The advantages drones bring to the construction industry are tremendous. They’re less costly, safer as people aren’t being put at risk by working at a height and tasks can be carried out faster. With film and television, I am demonstrating to future producers, directors and other film crew members how drones can easily obtain best images easily, and that are far better than traditional methods of filming. Drones inspire creativity in the film industry.

How do you think the use of drones will change Higher Education in the future?

Drones will widen students’ horizons and be a valuable tool in their arsenal when they graduate into professionals. At this stage of their education regulatory controls from our CAA are explained and understood creating responsible safe future drone operators.

Tell us a little about your work through Sky Captain?

Sky Captain was developed on the back of my role as a University UAV Operations Manager as I could see a good business opportunity. Sky Captain has allowed me to enhance students’ experiences using both University and our own drones.

What equipment do you use for Sky Captain and why?

We use an Inspire 1 ProV2 x5 camera as it’s a lightweight drone with interchangeable world leading Olympus lenses. The Inspire allows us to fly with fewer restrictions due to the weight factor. Its flight control system gives us confidence due to its continued reliability. We also use an Aeronavics Sky Jib X4 Ti-QR that carries almost every type of heavyweight camera. It’s robust due to its counter rotating X configuration. Additionally, an A2 flight control system and Futaba 14sg Tx are used.  A two-person crew operation is used for safety and to obtain the highest quality of images captured. Adrian Appleyard - Thermal Camera Pole

How do you think the use of drones benefits you as a photographer and surveyor?

Using drones is simply brilliant and is a no brainer in both applications.

Bonus question – tell us about your experience on Robot Wars.

Myself and 2 other colleagues entered Robot Wars and were roboteers for 3 years. This was amazing experience travelling across the UK and competing against other Roboteers.  We were in the 100kg category and our bot was called Storm Force. Out of 9000 entries and 3000 fighting bots, we came in the top 100 and ended up on TV in London only to the beaten by Chaos 2.  

Learn More

If you’re interested in finding out more about the qualification required to operate commercially or just want to talk to our team of drone experts, you can get in touch via phone on 0191 535 0188 or email at info@heliguy.com.
Keep checking back to Heliguy’s Insider Blog for more exclusive interviews, insights into the regulatory landscape and, of course, the latest news from the drone industry.

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