Drone Piloting

A personal form of meditation found in a tiny flying robot.

In 2017, I was one of the many that attended Train Jam, a game jam that occurs over a 52 hour period on a train from Chicago to San Francisco just prior to GDC. At the completion of the jam, Rami Ismael (of Vlambeer fame) took a group photo using his remote controlled drone. While I knew they were a thing that existed, I had never known someone that owned one. I was intrigued, so I spoke to Rami later about flying drones and why he liked them. It was all the convincing I needed to try it for myself.

I go a beginner drone, the Holy Stone H181. It is equipped with the general bells and whistles that you might look for in a drone, such as a decent camera, auto-landing features, and low-cost replacement parts. It only has a max range of 50 meters, so you’re not likely to be using this drone to explore the entire neighborhood, but it is sufficient for some fun times at an outdoor event.

The experience of flying a drone, while an amusing excuse to get outside in the nice weather, also serves as a somewhat meditative experience for me Once I overcame the hurdles of combating light winds and became more adept at ore complex navigation, I found that I was able to relax and enjoy the scenery around me. Whether watching a niece’s soccer game or just getting a new view of the landmarks around me I’ve found it to be a peaceful way to spend an hour or so.