David Donaldson stands in front of his “office”—a Eurocopter EC130 B4—with his quadcopter.
David shows off some of
the avionics on his full-scale EC130 B4 helicopter.
Meet David Donaldson
“Drone” is definitely a buzzword right now. Unfortunately, our
helicopters now fall under that
designation too, at least according to the
FAA. It is immediately apparent to me
why full-scale pilots are concerned about
our model aircraft and what we know as
I had a conversation with a
commercial full-scale helicopter pilot
who, in addition to flying medevac
missions in and out of unusual places,
is also an enthusiastic drone pilot.
I thought his perspective might be
interesting to some readers, so here is
what he had to say.
Chris Mulcahy: Could you introduce
yourself to our readers and explain what
you do for a living?
David Donaldson: My name is David
Donaldson. I am a commercial-rated
helicopter pilot living in North Carolina.
I have been flying emergency medical
helicopters since 2009. I also hold a
CFII (Commercial Flight Instrument
CM: What type of RC aircraft do you fly,
and what drew you into it?
DD: Drones! Or is it quadcopters? I can
remember being at work one night and
seeing a video on You Tube about Storm
Racing Drones and I was hooked! Seeing
these videos of guys sitting in chairs with
goggles on and flying these small aircraft
through the woods with LED lights on
them, was extremely cool to me. I think
I might’ve made my purchase that night!
Impulsive, I know …
CM: How has your opinion about drones/
sUAS changed from before you were
involved in FPV flying to now?
DD: My opinion has changed. I have only
been in the RC world for about a year
and growing in this hobby has shown
me that there are a lot of responsible,
courteous people out there flying drones.
CM: How has this new growth in drone
activity affected your day job?
DD: Every day when I fly the helicopter,
I’m constantly looking for RC aircraft.
It’s embedded into my scan. As an EMS
service] operator, my
minimums are 300
feet during the
day and 500 feet
at night. With the
popularity of drones,
we have changed our
altitudes to 1,000
feet during the day and 1,500 feet at
CM: For those who are wondering, what
kind of damage could a typical drone do to
DD: I fly two types of aircraft: the
Eurocopter EC130 and EC135. Both
103 Model Aviation JULY 2016