“What is a Safety Officer?”

I hear that question a lot. No, I’m not on security at your local mall. My job is way cooler (sorry, mall cops). As a multi rotor Safety Officer, I’m charged with maintaining safe multi rotor operations. But what does that consist of? More than most people expect.

You can boil down a Safety Officer’s purpose to three duties, in order of importance:

1. Keeping People Safe – This is always, always the priority. No shot is worth a human life.

2. Keeping the Ship Safe – That’s a lot of money up in the air. Do your best to keep it safe.

3. Getting the Shots Efficiently & Professionally – Do what you can to help the Pilot and Gimbal Operator save time and look good for the client.

So how exactly do we accomplish these? A lot of people who are new to the industry think that Safety Officers are essentially just “spotters”, but that’s short-changing an essential component of the multi rotor operation team. I’m going to try to take a few blog posts to break down the duties of a Safety Officer. For this first post in our series, I’m going to focus on…

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Assisting the Pilot

The biggest part of the Safety Officer’s job is to be available to assist the Pilot in any way. Does the Pilot need to mount the ship? Help him mount the ship. Does the Pilot need a tool from the kit? Retrieve the tool. Does the Pilot need water? Get him some water. This may sound like a small and mundane task, but if the Pilot is too busy to get his own water and then later becomes disoriented because of dehydration and crashes the ship, you could have prevented that. Again, your duties require you to do whatever you can to keep people safe, the ship safe, and the shoot moving. The Pilot is the lead of the team and if he needs something, you can bet it’s important.

ryan_multi_rotor_safety_officer_1In an optimal situation, you should already know the Pilot well and be familiar with their preferences. If, however, you don’t have much experience working together, it’s wise to go over some things before you even get on set. Communication is key to smooth multi rotor operation, so be sure to discuss how your Pilot would prefer to communicate. Go over terms to make sure you understand each other. “Ascend” can sound the same as “descend” when making a split-second decision, so maybe your Pilot wants you to warn him to “elevate” instead.

When it comes down to it, a multi rotor Safety Officer is there to assist and complement the Pilot.

We here at VidMuze Aerial Cinema believe drone safety is always a priority. Check out our work and stay tuned for part 2, which will cover “Assessing the Location.”

The Multi Rotor Safety Officer – Pt 1 (Assisting the Pilot)

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