Enthusiasts keen to correct misconceptions people have about drones

Enthusiasts keen to correct misconceptions people have about drones
PASSIONATE: (From left, holding controllers) Drone enthusiasts Yusri Ibrahim, Nyan and Muhammad Farhan showcasing their DIY drones at the Singapore Flyer on Saturday.

His wife wanted a helicopter to deliver the rings at their wedding ceremony four years ago.

So web developer Felix Oking, 33, got creative and decided to improvise with a drone from Toys 'R' Us.

His first drone, which cost $400, kicked off his love for the remotely-piloted aircraft. In total, he spent close to a five-figure sum on his five drones.

Mr Oking is now the administrator of Singapore Drones Kaki, a group of drone enthusiasts with more than 250 members.

On Saturday, the group, which formed about three months ago, took part in International Drone Day at the Singapore Flyer.

The theme of this year's event - Drones are Good - aims to educate people about the positive applications of drones.

Although Singapore Drones Kaki did not have approval to fly the drones at the Flyer, the group wanted to showcase their drones at a popular spot in Singapore and made sure they did not break any laws by flying their drones close to the ground.

PERMIT REQUIRED

According to a reply by Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo in Parliament last month, unmanned aircraft weighing 7kg or less require a permit from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) if they are flown within 5km of an aerodrome - such as an airport or air base.

A permit is also required for drone flights flying at an altitude higher than 200ft (61m) above mean sea level when they are 5km or more outside of an aerodrome.

The Ministry of Transport and CAAS, together with other government ministries and agencies, have also started a review of the regulatory framework concerning unmanned aircraft, she added.

Mr Oking, a Singaporean who hails from Indonesia, said he wanted to correct the misconceptions people have about drones.

"Drones are the future in many industries such as security, oil and gas, and F&B. There is even a restaurant in Singapore that uses drones to serve customers," he said.

Another enthusiast, Mr Yusri Ibrahim, 42, said: "When flying our drones in public, we are very mindful of the location and... ensure that there are not too many people around."

The educator, who got into the hobby last October, spent nearly $6,000 on five drones. His background is in aerospace engineering and most of his drones are self-assembled.

He said: "I feel a great sense of satisfaction when I see something that I built from scratch fly in the air."

linheng@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Mar 16, 2015.
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