Meet the team behind Volansi’s flying robots. Each week we share stories from the team at Volansi highlighting their journey to joining the team, how they help keep our drones taking off, and some quirky fun along the way.
Title at Volansi: Special Projects Manager, Flight Operations
Joined the team: 2018
Team Member No. 26
Tell us a little bit about your background and the work you did before joining the Volansi team?
Before joining Volansi, I had the opportunity to have a wide range of educational, professional and cultural experiences all around the world. I spent a few years in the United States Marine Corps as a long-range hiking and camping specialist. After the Marine Corps, I thought it would be a good idea to fly helicopters. During that time, I managed to get a commercial and instrument rating and a degree in aviation science. With some aviation experience under my hat, I started working in the offshore oil and gas industry as a subsea robotics pilot. Within a few years working at sea, I found myself back in school at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, pursuing a degree in Unmanned Aircraft Systems. My eclectic collection of experiences in the air, on land at sea, in varying climates, and places have helped me immensely with my current role as the Flight Operations Special Projects Manager.
In your own words, what do you do at Volansi?
At Volansi, I make sure our aircraft are aircrafting by maintaining a personal mission-forward posture and a Cirque du Soleil level of flexibility. During my time here, I have fulfilled two primary roles: I have been a forward-deployed flight operator and a developmental external test pilot.
In the forward-deployed flight operator role, I am responsible for traveling to a remote delivery location ahead of our aircraft to ensure site viability and security. Once the aircraft lands and delivers its payload, I collect the payload and make sure the aircraft is good for the return flight to the launch location. I have had the opportunity to go to a lot of interesting places while working in this role.
What has been your favorite project so far at Volansi?
I have been with Volansi for a few years now, and I have had the opportunity to work on many different projects. I have appreciated each project individually for all of their associated rewards, challenges and experiences. I have had a chance to explore several Caribbean islands and a few interesting places in Africa. We were recently able to fly the M20 off of a naval vessel in the Florida Keys. That was a great experience! I look forward to participating in many projects and adventures for Volansi in the future.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to spend most of my spare time hiking, working out and gardening. The garden my wife and I planted this year produced way more vegetables than we were expecting. We have been looking at greenhouse options to keep up our garden growing momentum during the winter. I think it would be neat to one day be able to grow the majority of our food. I have also been slowly but surely working toward getting fixed-wing aviation ratings. I would very much like to own an airplane. Whenever I need to test my willpower, I like to look at airplanes for sale and then come up with reasons why I can’t afford to buy one.
Who are your heroes in aviation, drone, or logistics history? Why?
My absolute favorite aviator of all time is my wife. She is a newly minted Certified Flight Instructor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and she will be getting her first flight students in a few weeks. She has worked very hard to get to her current flight level, and she is still climbing. I am very proud of her, and I know she will be a great instructor.
We are in the dawn of unmanned flight and autonomous mobility. What are the applications that excite you most?
I am most excited about having the opportunity to participate in the development of new technology. I look forward to achieving the same aviation milestones as the aviators that flew before us. In some respects, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) challenges are on par with the aviation industry 100 years ago. Our technology keeps getting better and better, and I think the most significant limiting factor in the advancement of UAS technology is the cautious progression of national airspace integration and adaptation. It’s going to be a big deal when a UAS can autonomously deliver commercial payloads from one end of a city to the other end of a city as a standard means of delivery. It’s going to be an even bigger deal when a UAS can autonomously deliver a payload from the west coast to the east coast of the United States. I believe that Volansi will be at the forefront of establishing many aviation and UAS milestones and I am happy that I can be a crucial team member in helping to achieve our collective goals.