My first attempt at flying a drone ended with a loud thump against a table, followed by a chuckle. Even though the instructor was telling me that I was a natural at flying, I didn’t believe them. Nevertheless, flying the drone was one of the best experiences I’ve had in years. The drone workshop, hosted at White Sands in Pasir Ris and run by Performance Rotors, was a taste of what the public can expect. On 11 and 12 March, there will be a drone stunt show in White Sands, and on 11 March there will be workshops in the Public Library.
The drone workshop, hosted at White Sands in Pasir Ris and run by Performance Rotors, was a taste of what the public can expect. On 11 and 12 March, there will be a drone stunt show in White Sands, and on 11 March there will be workshops in the Public Library.
Playing with drones
After spending quite some time playing around with the drones, I spent some time speaking with a co-founder of Performance Rotors Kieth Ng. The first question was regarding rules surrounding drone flying in Singapore. There are many areas where it’s unwelcome. If you fly within five kilometres of an airport, Ng warns that you can expect a heavy fine of S$20,000. There are also several prohibited areas. Also, you are limited to the size of the machine, and what you can do with it. No leaflet dropping, no flying over crowds. You would think that legislation in Singapore is quite limiting.
Ng doesn’t agree, saying that most of these limitations are common sense. “There is somewhere in Europe, can’t remember where, where they’ve just banned all drones with cameras,” he says. He is referring to Sweden, which has recently placed the ban. When compared to this, Ng believes that for now, it is still quite lax in Singapore. However, that is not to say that if you do get a taste for drone flying that you go crazy.
Those who want to do more interesting things with their drones, like filming, need to get a license. Ng says that this can only be done by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS). He adds that while they do not help with the certification, they help regarding advice and how to build your drone. After all, that is their main line of business.
The drone community
There weren’t many journalists who came to the workshop to play with drones. While having a lot of fun, I was worried that drones were not that popular in Singapore. Ng says that in fact, it is a very sizeable community. “If you look at Facebook groups in Singapore, the likes are in the thousands,” he says. In particular, he points to the sudden popularisation of micro drones. These were the ones we had the chance to play with, and while the battery life was a mere five minutes, its indestructible nature meant that it was the perfect rookie drone.
“It’s great for families,” Ng continues, “especially when the father thinks he can do it best but he’s showed up by his kids!” He admits that part of the reason why they agreed to this partnership with AsiaMalls, who owns White Sands, is to dispel some of the fears around drones. Performance Rotors wants to show that it is a perfectly acceptable family pastime to get into. Also, for those who really get bitten by the drone bug, a wide world awaits. We only got to play with small drones but were shown much larger racing variations. If you want to see those in action, Performance Rotors is also hosting a racing event 24 June.