Jaimen Hudson is an enthusiastic pilot of drones who flies at Esperance in Western Australia—from his wheelchair.
He didn’t let a motorbike accident in 2008 that left him a quadriplegic, stop him from enjoying life and his hobbies. Now this remarkable achiever describes himself on Instagram as a ‘Quadriplegic with a quadcopter’.
His website, ‘The view’s better from up here’, displays his skill with a Zenmuse X5S camera mounted on an Inspire 2 drone. Visitors are greeted with a video of a southern right whale playing with dolphins. The colours are magnificent and the ‘view from above’ is relatively close, allowed by Jaimen’s state-based permit to film wildlife.
‘My dream is to film a blue whale, maybe with a pack of orcas—that would be really cool,’ he says.
He has been using a drone to document his trips around Australia and overseas. ‘I try not to let the wheelchair hold me back from anything,’ he says.
‘I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to work the controller for the drone, with my reduced hand function and dexterity in my fingers. But after I bought it, I haven’t looked back since. It’s a great way for me to still experience the beaches and coastline while confined to a wheelchair.’
Jaimen obtained his remote pilot licence (RePL) through a Perth company, wrote a safety manual and successfully applied for a remotely piloted aircraft operator’s certificate (ReOC) to be able to operate heavier drones commercially.
His images and videos of spectacular scenery and marine life are in demand. However, safety is a key priority for his business, such as keeping the drone within visual line of sight.
‘Drones do get a bad rep because people do stupid things and that ruins it for the good people, but if you have the correct permits in place, people know you’re doing the right thing—not perving at people on the beach.’
His tips for new pilots? ‘Don’t put yourself or anyone else in danger,’ he says.
‘Go to the CASA website and check out the regulations. Check out what you can and can’t do with a drone, such as, not flying over populous areas. If a drone falls out of the sky and there’s a chance it might fall on someone, then that’s considered a populous area.
‘So, for a place like the beach, you really have to be careful where you’re putting the drone. If it landed on a child or it took someone’s eye out, you’d never forgive yourself, so make sure you stay at least 30 metres away from people.
‘I suggest practising out over the water where it won’t hurt anyone if it falls, and have fun with it like that.’