I was in Iraq on a scouting mission in late August and my mission was to pick up some equipment and gear for a drone program.
After I picked up the equipment, I walked out to a clearing, and the whole thing fell apart, I was hit by an RPG, and my gear went flying into the air.
It took me a little while to get up, and then I was on the ground in a pool of blood.
At that point, I knew it was a pretty serious accident.
I had my drone flying with the other two crew members, and when the first one landed, they were dead.
So I’m sitting there, waiting for the other one to land, when I get this call from the FAA saying that the second drone is missing.
I thought that was pretty funny, so I said, “I don’t know what happened.”
That’s when I got a call from an FAA representative, who told me, “You should definitely talk to the FAA.”
They were like, “If you don’t, we’re not going to take you seriously.”
I’m like, What are you talking about?
And then he says, “The FAA doesn’t take pilots seriously, because we’re supposed to be the best drone pilots in the world.”
They don’t think you’re capable of being a good pilot.
I was like, Oh, okay.
So then he went on to say, “It’s a little bit of a black box.”
I was thinking, What?
They want me to sit here, talk about the risks of the hobby, and how to fly it properly.
He said, Well, we know it’s a hobby, we want to make sure you’re not doing something dangerous.
And he went into detail.
He explained the basics of what a drone looks like, and he told me how to read a map.
He was pretty good at explaining it to me, and I got pretty excited.
Then I got an email from the CEO of the FAA.
He had a pretty great message for me, telling me, This is our safety team.
You know, it’s not a matter of, “Oh, well, you’re going to fly a drone and get killed,” it’s actually, “Well, you know, this drone’s a threat to your life.”
He said that I could have lost my life and the lives of my colleagues if I didn’t go ahead and fly my drone.
I really wanted to get on board and help out, so after I got the email, I went out to check on the guys, and there was a huge hole in the drone.
They’d probably lost it in the desert.
It was so deep that it didn’t even look like it had been damaged, just like the plane had just crashed.
It just looked like a big hole, and all I could see was a massive crater in the middle of the drone, so it was really terrifying.
I’m going, “What the hell is going on?”
Then I started to think, What happened to my drone?
How did I get it?
And what happened to the guys?
They didn’t say much, and they didn’t give me any answers.
So it took me two weeks to get the FAA to call me back, and by then I had already flown my drone a few times.
I went to my FAA office in the morning and talked to them about what had happened, and said, I want to be a part of this project, so if there’s anything that can help me understand what’s going on with my drone, I’d love to help.
And they said, We’re not gonna take you very seriously.
They said, There’s not going.
I said OK, I’ll go and talk to some of the other guys, because they were a little nervous.
I walked in, and it was just a giant hole in my drone’s back.
The guys were trying to get in, but I was just kind of laying there.
They finally got me on the phone, and as soon as I got on the line, they said: We can’t tell you anything, because this is not an official FAA program.
They just wanted me to get out there and get some answers.
And I was totally blown away by the level of professionalism that they showed.
I think the biggest thing for me is that it’s an opportunity for me to go back to school.
It’s something that I never thought I’d be able to do, and now I’m able to help someone else get a drone flying.
I’ve flown drones in the past, but never as far as this.
And flying drones in this field, I’ve always had the confidence in myself to fly, and this gives me that confidence.
That’s something I want.
And it also gives me a lot of freedom to go ahead with my dreams of being in the military, or even working for a private company.