written by

Mikael Costa Pinto

Pilot Highlight: Nigerian Microbiologist Turned Drone Pilot 

Like many Crowddroning pilots, Nigerian Bunkunmi Dhikrullahi Shittu is not only a drone pilot but also an expert in an entirely different field: microbiology. Some of that drone knowledge he learned at the African Drone and Data Academy (ADDA). And like others, he's found ways to combine his drone skills with his other ambitions. 

What skills did you learn at ADDA?

ADDA remains the place to be if you need in-depth knowledge about everything about unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs): drones for what drones are, what makes them fly, what are their applications, and how they can help solve significant challenges we, as humans, face in this century. Before the training, I had a grand vision of what I would like to use drones for. However, after the training, I became a certified drone pilot who understands aerodynamics, safety, regulations, maintenance, and how to use drone data to make informed decisions. 

What advice do you have for other drone pilots?

Firstly, for a certified drone pilot, the goal is safety. Before you carry out any mission, think about safety. There should be a vast difference between seeing a trained pilot fly a drone and hobbyists. All pilots should have at the back of their minds that knowledge acquired before getting the license is not just to pass the exam alone. We should display this knowledge at all times when we are carrying out a mission. When you have multiple assignments to fly in a day, understand that you need to go through your pre-flight checklist every time and not just once a day. Go through your risk assessment all the time, understand the regulations of the environment you are working in, and the need to have excellent communication skills. Do not be in so much hurry that you forget your pre-flight checklist before carrying out a mission as a pilot. 

How do you think you can combine your roles as both a microbiologist and a drone pilot?

The research that introduced me to becoming a drone pilot focused on identifying the breeding habitats of malaria vectors: mosquitoes. Using the traditional method of walking through different communities to identify where mosquitoes breed is time-consuming, and several breeding spots can potentially be missed. However, drones will make it easier to determine where these vectors breed. The specific areas can be targeted for malaria/vector-borne disease control, both cost-effective and timely.

Currently, I am working for a drone company that focuses on using 21st-century skills. My goal has always been using drones for good in Africa and beyond and having a company that provides such a platform is a dream come true for me.

First published on 2021-11-09