Gers: a drone school lands in the heart of the Gascon valleys

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Near Gimont, a company from Toulouse, Drone Up Academy offers training in flying drones. Trainees are led to discover the basics of drones by experienced professionals.

Fields as far as the eye can see and a slight hum in the air. It is in the heart of the Gers that the Drone Up Academy (DUA) company decided to put down its suitcases more than a year and a half ago. Born in Toulouse thanks to the imagination and determination of Nicolas Frachet-Garnier, DUA is a company specializing in the training of drone pilots, also known as remote pilots.

Nicolas, a former aeronautical engineer, got caught up in the game: “In the beginning I just flew on weekends, for my personal pleasure, he confides. After that I passed my pilot’s license and I immediately became addicted to the educational side of the training”.

A step by step evolution

That is how he founded his company and started giving courses himself. “I was still working at Airbus at the time and said goodbye to running Drone Up Academy,” says Nicolas. Then the Covid intervenes and Airbus implements its Employment Protection Plan (PSE). Nicolas takes the opportunity to leave his post. “I liked it, but I wanted to focus on something else,” adds the latter.

Philippe, Nicolas and Jonathan for one of the most advanced drone models in their fleet.
DDM – SEBASTIEN LAPEYRERE

What is certain is that “DUA would not be the same without my 20 years of seniority with Airbus”. Nicolas’s conversion is far from anecdotal. Many of the ranks of DUA come from the aviation sector. Of the sixteen instructors, Jonathan Beaussire, a private jet pilot, joined DUA almost two years ago. For him, the transition from airplanes to drones has come “naturally”. “The quality of the training we provide at Drone Up Academy is as close as possible to aviation”, confides the instructor.

Seasoned professionals at the wheel

“We have converted the aviation methodology to drones, especially with the checklist system before and after each flight,” says Jonathan. Strictness is indeed essential for flying drones. This week, three interns decided to take the plunge and follow the training. Installed around Jonathan, they listen carefully to the advice of this seasoned professional.

Jonathan, instructor at Drone Up Academy accompanies Michael during a flying session.

Jonathan, instructor at Drone Up Academy accompanies Michael during a flying session.
DDM – SEBASTIEN LAPEYRERE

For Joanna Damprund Vergnole, also a private aircraft pilot and instructor at DUA, “it’s the aviation aspect that [m’]rained in the drones”. Because she could practice her skills in aviation, Joanna was prompted to join the Drone Up Academy.

The first center in the Gers

The drone is not just an exit door for aviation professionals. As Joanna points out, “the sector is constantly evolving”. This is why of all interns, they all have different professions.

Among those present at the Gimont site, Michael, plumber and heating engineer, wants to take advantage of this training to acquire new skills in his profession. “My goal is to be able to spot heat loss with a drone,” he says.

The peaceful environment allows trainees to practice long-haul flights.

The peaceful environment allows trainees to practice long-haul flights.
DDM – SEBASTIEN LAPEYRERE

Since the drone is indispensable in more and more areas, DUA has succeeded in conquering France. In addition to the nine centers labeled Drone Up Academy, Nicolas and his teams have established an agreed certification, Dronedifice, which is used in more than 25 training sites across France. More than 400 interns have already made use of the services of DUA. At the Gimont site, DUA’s first training center, the trainees seem delighted to discover the world of drones before flying themselves.

Customized training

Various training courses are offered by Drone Up Academy. Some are aimed at experienced remote pilots, others at beginners. The audience for training is becoming more democratic and so are the prices. The first 3-day training costs 1350 euros. The semi-advanced training of 5 days costs 2,290 euros. Finally, the training, which includes deepening an area and lasts two weeks, costs 4,190 euros. On the Gimont site, interns even have the option of sleeping on the site without a financial surplus. A real disconnect…surrounded by connected objects.

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