Reaching new heights

The maiden flight of our long-range drone

It was a clear fall day without wind that brought excitement to our restoration ecologist and newly licensed drone pilot, Guatham Ramachandra, who took our impressive VTOL fixed wing drone out for its first flight in Portugal, a few months ago. This is not your average drone. It weighs 7 kilos and can fly 150 km (93.2 mi) in one outing without recharging. 

“I’ve been waiting a long time to get this drone in the sky, and it didn’t disappoint. You can study and learn a lot on paper, but getting it in the air provided even more insight, which was great to have,” says Gautham. 

“It’s exciting to get this technology in the air.”

It takes detailed preparation and a specific step by step protocol before launching the drone that our team has endearingly dubbed “Tree Force One.” We captured this procedure on camera. See how we prepare, fly and execute:

First, Gautham goes through a pre-flight checklist to make sure all systems – like the GPS and full frame camera – are responding and ready. When the drone is in the air, every time its camera is triggered, it records the GPS location of where the image was taken. These photos help us develop a terrain model for analysis, which provides input for our planting blueprint designs.  


Then, we create the flight path. Gautham looks at everything in 3D mode to make sure the drone will maintain the space and height across  variations in the terrain. This is to avoid any collisions and maintain the same resolution of the final map.


Finally, it’s time to fly! This drone can fly much further and faster than the other drones we use in the field. As Land Life Company continues to scale up and increase plantings, this allows us to survey and monitor larger pieces of land in an efficient way.