I've Got Skills: Unmanned Aircraft Operator vs. SkyCam Operator/Pilot

Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operator and sports SkyCam Operator and Pilot spend a day in each other’s shoes.

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My name is Staff Sergeant Frank Petersen I'm an unmanned aircraft systems operator. I'm Army strong and I've got skills.

UAS is unmanned aircraft system. It is an unmanned aircraft which means we fly it basically remotely from the ground. We sit in a control station where we can see the instrumentation off the aircraft and what we are looking at with the payload in order to put the aircraft where it needs to be and capture the data on the ground that we need to look at.

There is quite a bit of skill involved in what we do. You have to have the situational awareness and the ability to multi-task and there's a lot of information that an operator has to know in order to effectively do his job.

My name is Damian Doucette I am a sky cam operator.

My name is Cody Taylor I am a sky cam pilot and (together) I've got skills.

You've got fourth and one, watch a sneak.

It allows you a perspective that you just can't get from other cameras.

Intercepted. Stay with him. Stay with him.

You have to be able to handle a lot of pressure working on live television.

How you doing, Staff Sergeant Petersen.

Hello, this is Cody.

Cody Taylor, please to meet you. Welcome to our office.

Damian: We met Staff Sergeant Petersen here and we walked through all of our equipment.

Cody: Alright Staff Sergeant this is our number one reel location.

Cody: We showed him the tower. We showed him how we rig the pulleys. How we get 'em up in the towers. How we get our lines and cables up. He was right there with me every step of the way.

Staff Sergeant Petersen: You're basically setting your site up.

Cody: Yep.

Staff Sergeant Petersen: We do the same kind of thing when we roll into and airfield. Do some site survey stuff. Set some equipment up. All the equipment has to be in place. It's kind of the same thing.

Cody: So here we are SkyCam control room. This is where we operate the system from.

[Random talk to one another.]

Cody: You're here and you're here and you're here. You also have to have a global concept of what is going on out there with the reels and how the whole rig is behaving.

Damian: We had the opportunity to put him on one of our joysticks which is something I was really looking forward to.

It's very interesting actually the parallels that we were able to share. Especially up at our operating location. We have very similar functions in our jobs.

Cody: Here we go, we're flying.

Damian: When there's lives on the line. Not that we don't take our stuff seriously but he is operating on a whole different level. I would think this would be a walk in the park for him.

Staff Sergeant Petersen: Operating their equipment was kind of fun. It was an education on my part in what these guys do and the how this whole football process is video taped there is a lot to it. So I kind of look forward to getting those guys out and so we can educate them on what an UAS operator actually does.

Staff Sergeant Petersen: Hey, morning guys.

Cody: Staff Sergeant.

Staff Sergeant Petersen: Welcome to Bravo Company UAVST. Glad yawl are here you get to see what we do as UAS operators. Come into the hanger I will show you the aircraft real quick. Then we'll take you down to the flight lie to show you how to fly.

Guys this is the shadow.

Staff Sergeant Petersen: We brought 'em into the hanger and showed 'em the aircraft. We showed them the shadow. Showed them the hunter. Gave 'em some basic information so that they had an idea of what the aircraft looked like.

Took 'em out to the flight line and started to show them the process that we go through to get an aircraft ready to fly.

Damian: We went out and looked at all the equipment associated with it. As far as the hardware that they use to actually control the aircraft when it is on a mission and the retrieval gear they use to grab it once it lands.

So, after the aircraft was launched we were able to kind of go into the control room which really was the part we were looking forward to because as we like to say that is where the magic happens.

They do have rules here and they are a a little more serious than we are so we weren't able to get our hands on the actual controls to pilot one of those things but he put us in the right seat which is the payload operator.

Staff Sergeant Petersen: Unmanned aircraft systems operator speak payload means we are referring to the camera on the aircraft.

Little bit different feel on that?

Cody: I was really impressed sitting down at their operator console the pilot has the same types of monitors that I have. Again, we have the play-school version of what they've got here.

Staff Sergeant Petersen: Gave 'em a couple of targets to go find so we gave 'em a little challenge. I'm willing to bet with some time and the proper person behind them to teach them how to do it they would get it pretty quick.

Staff Sergeant Petersen: I think it was a good experience for them to come see what we do in the Army as operators for unmanned aircraft. And same thing for us I think it was a really good experience for me to go see what these guys do because I had no idea that that much work and energy went into filming a football game to broadcast on TV. I had no idea.

Damian: We had that same: it’s only TV. At the end of the day there is a lot of pressure involved in what we do but really you got to you got to keep it in perspective. What these guys do is the real deal.

Staff Sergeant Petersen: It's very gratifying as a UAS operator to be in the field. Where you have that ground guy who comes back and says I'm glad you told me what you did today because I think you saved my life. Words can't describe the way that you would feel about that.