I live in the rural area, and enjoy the rousing chirps of birds every morning. Sunday 29th December 2013 started as a very slow day, with a rude Skype call at 6.30am from disgruntled Chinese domain name trader, who has promised to make me famous. Story for another day.
I got dressed at 8am hoping to go to get to church before 9.30am, but I neither got to church, nor back to my home until 9.30pm. My neighbour came calling at 9am to inform me that he just monitored the Yoruba news analysis on the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS) that our missing plane may have been found in the neighbourhood. I assured him I will get to BCOS after the Service, not knowing that church was a pipe dream!
Flashback to Sunday 22nd December 2013, my son and I decided to calibrate our new Walkera QR x350 quadcopter, hoping to get it ready for its maiden flight on boxing day. We coupled the various parts in the garden, charged the batteries and started calibrating the controls. It lifted gracefully, and hovered within the garden with a slight drift to the right. My son thought it could crash into the wall, and advised that I should lift it up a bit to clear the wall. Mistake number One, as the quadcopter simply took to the skies, and then started drifted to the right, since it was not calibrated, it did not hoover. Being an experienced chopper pilot, he asked for the controls, which I gave to him. He wanted to execute a turn, but the craft veered sharply to the left. Within one minute, we lost radio contact. We raced down the road on foot, re-established radio contact, activated the homing function, waited 5 minutes but when nothing came, I just believed the worst may have happened. I took the pains to inform my neighbors, those with their ears to the ground, just in case they got any clue that the quadcopter may have crashed somewhere around. I did not inform the police. Mistake number 2.
Flashback to Sunday 15th December 2013, I took my young enthusiastic nephew and his friends out, to fly a fixed wing, one of many in my collection of Fixed wing model planes, Helicopters, Glider and a delta wing. It ended in a disaster, as the plane could not taxi for a lift-off, due to a damaged rear wheel. He blamed me for not preparing well for the outing, the main reason why I took great pains to do the calibrations and get the copter functional before the boxing day …. A flight that never was.
Forward to Sunday 29th December 2013, As I left home for church with the family, I noticed a crowd gathered in the neighbourhood, and security vehicles all around. I decided to investigate, was told it is in connection with the US spy drone that came down in Awotan. I approached the centre of attention, who turned out to be the Local Government Chairman, Prof. Olowofela. He came on a fact-finding mission to ascertain the accuracy of the report. I told him in clear words that I was responsible for the mysterious craft. I was made to understand that it is frontpage news of Nigerian Tribune, and indeed, they accused the US of sending the craft all the way from Texas. Full story here. My poor quadcopter has an endurance of just 12 minutes, but TX was printed on the Transmit module!!
We ended up in his office, with some of my other Radio Controlled toys, where he addressed the Press, including NTA, BCOS, GalaxyTV, Radio Nigeria, Tribune, Alaroye and many other print and electronics media. Four hours, but it was like eternity. They have since published a follow-up here, but the errors and mistakes in that follow-up are not mine!
I returned home at about 4pm, to the cold embrace of additional security men, who came to ascertain whether indeed I had a command and control centre, where I trained and in what, Where I have been since I was born, who my suppliers are, work alone or work with cohorts, etc etc etc. They had a search warrant, and quickly went about their business. I cooperated fully. I was their guest till very late in the night. Other details I will leave, since he who brought home an ant-infested wood should not complain about the visit of the Lizard.
I have since made efforts to visit the crash site and make new friends, get the broken roof mended, and will be talking to some senior members of the community in the days to come.
RCFlying is a very respectable and fun discipline, and I did not hesitate to register the domain rcflyi.ng which I will use in the future for my activities related to Radio Controlled flying and crafts, a respectable vocation that I intend to popularize in Nigeria. I will let you know when to start visiting the site 😉
In 1997, in the era of the dark-goggled general turned leader, Anyone with a Modem was being hunted in Nigeria!! I and my colleague were guests of the Police and the State Security Service, on the allegation that we was conducting espionage, transmitting messages from our office in Bodija. Those were the early days of SKANNET, when very little was know about the Internet. It was a uphill task explaining what the Internet was all about, and the fact that Email is not subversive. Many years down the line, the Internet now serves as our default communication and you are reading this from ..… wherever, doesn’t matter!
In the years to come, quadcopters will be default tools for spraying our farms with pesticides, shooting fast action Movies … not Okada, stacking blocks, traffic control, school assembly inspection, citizen police and many other mundane tasks. Nigeria should be ready, and just like in the dark days gone by, some people need to pioneer the revolution and turn it into a commodity. I do not play catch-up with technology, I believe in leap-frogging. Welcome to my life!!