Featured NewsTrending NewsPilots StoriesPilot's Story: Dennis Lobos Palma


06 April 2023

By Dennis Lobos Palma

In these more than 11 years flying drones and more than 20 as a radio control pilot, I have been involved with this wonderful technology since its inception, watching closely how everything changed faster than expected. It all began as a hobby and became a way of life.

Starting so long ago gives you skills that are hard to get when starting today, basically because the technology wasn't as advanced 10 years ago as it is now. So to achieve something you had to work much harder than you should now. I built my first FPV drone in September 2014, and today we are with high resolution, low latency and long range transmission - plus you can buy it built, configured and flying smoothly (even with 1080p transmission).

Livestreaming with Promovie Aeronautics. Lollapalooza Chile, 2020.

At that time multi motors were not as advanced as now, but also unreliable, and people were not yet ready to understand that this area would have such amazing growth.

Being part of this field since long ago has its advantages, such as a perfect understanding of all the components, configurations, adjustments, failures, updates, etc. And besides, the experience that makes you a very good pilot. You didn't have the countless assists you have today, such as sensors, compass, GPS, apps, HD streaming, or decent mobile internet. Each operation made you feel like a protagonist.

The evolution came sooner rather than later, and the increase in pilots was exponential.

I have been involved in countless operations over the years, from not having a gimbal on the drone or even how to stream the video from the camera to have a view of what you were recording, this has changed over time and now you have the option to move the camera independent of the drone, even being able to have 1080p video on both controls and screens. All this is important to mention since new users believe that when this started, it did what it looks like today. There are a lot of examples of how this has changed over time and we know that it won't stop.

Relaunch and expansion of the Public Safety with Drones Program for the Government of Chile, together with the Minister of Crime Prevention Katherine Martorell Awad, 2021.

I have worked for television channels, sporting events, and commercials, made the first transmissions for television in HD in my country, been to important catastrophes, and participated in all the evolution of the area in my country. Among other things, I participated in the development of tethered ballons for the forestry companies in Chile.

I am the first pilot certified in my country by the DGAC (FAA in Chile) in 2015, and since it was one of the first countries to accredit its pilots, I was the first in America. Not only was I the first along with my partner at that time (who did not fly drones but saw the administrative part of the company) but we also developed civil liability insurance that did not exist at that time (for drones) and we managed to make it accepted by government institutions, thus avoiding that they demand that our clients be co-responsible for any accident.

We were the first because I flew daily for important jobs, even with the President of the Republic (Bachelet at that time), so complying with the regulations was imperative.

Exhibition in front of the Government House of President Sebastián Piñera.

I was working like this for years until 2019, when I was recruited by Videocorp S.A., a company that had the aerial security tender with drones in the capital of my country. I was the supervisor and pilot-in-chief for almost two years, flying 5.5 effective hours daily (sometimes more) as part of the safe street program. The objective of which, more than anything else, was to monitor the city, guard important places, and obtain images and video to bring those responsible to justice. Two weeks after it started, a two-year period of extremely violent protests began in Chile, which were daily, surprising, and coordinated; Therefore, our objectives were modified and we went from flying in relatively calm situations to flying with a bulletproof vest, helmet and doing everything possible to avoid receiving damage from a Molotov, flying objects, or people. In addition to avoiding being photographed, protecting the equipment and being able to move safely from a monitoring location to the offices. This was done from Monday to Sunday 24/7, and I was in charge of making sure everything worked well, as well as being the pilot who carried out the most complicated operations, all due to my many years of experience.

I developed training sessions for new pilots with great success, and I was in charge of ensuring that the equipment worked correctly.

After going through this job I moved to the most prominent and important company of topography with Drones in Chile, they insisted for months so I could go and work with them. I was part of the mining, inspection, photogrammetry, and topography area of the company Surveying Control Systems LTDA. Arrived there new and without knowledge in the area (but as an expert in drones) with colleagues who had been there for years.

Within a few months I became the main pilot and Supervisor of pilots; working, for example, with equipment such as Lidar Yellowscan, GNSS Trimble, Vtols, Multirotors, and bathymetry. Consider also that this was done in the mountains, at sea level, in the desert, in the snow, in remote places, etc. And within the most important mining companies in my country and the world, flying with strong winds, high and low altitude following the mining pits, far away, with dirt, cold, heat, between constructions, among others difficulties.

Safety regulations in these places are extreme and the level of paperwork was too, so you have to dedicate yourself to doing it right.

Launching program "Calle Segura" (safe street) together with the Police, for the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Crime Prevention, 2019.

Over time I always remained linked to the company that I had from the beginning, so whenever I had free time I did work there, participating in interesting projects and making alliances with other companies, and contributing with my experience as a pilot and as a lover of technology.

I could write all day if I wanted to describe everything I've done, the drones I've flown and the good and bad situations I've experienced in the field, as well as anecdotes; but it's so extensive and fits in another story.

On June 29, 2022, I came to the United States with my family and my two dogs, all thanks to the company NTGroup, in which I am a Manager. I make alliances with companies that want to have training services, require services related to drone advice, or looking to evaluate a new business.

One of these alliances is the company USA Drone Academy, which asks me as a chief instructor to train new pilots, enhance the performance of advanced pilots, and prepare people for the Part 107 License exam. Giving conferences in schools, companies, and even in other countries. Exhibitions of drone performance, configuration, autonomous flights, etc. I am a brand ambassador.

Rig, circa 2019: DJI Matrice 210 (later updated to Matrice 300 RTK), liveU broadcast system with two controllers, 32 batteries—TB55 for 16 flights, 5.5 hours of flight time by shift.

I have met fascinating people in the United States, but I have incredible memories of my participation as a pioneer in the area in my country, where my employers still call me with the hope that I will return to Chile and work with them again.

It all started as a hobby and ended up being part of my life and the livelihood of my family.


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