BNUC-S Ground Theory Exam for Aerial Work

Ok so I am branching out into Aerial photography, which will help take my photography and videography work to another level. I started out last year with a Phantom 2 which carried a GoPro that my girlfriend bought for my birthday, the first time I used the Phantom I was hooked, and the silky smooth video that the gopro captured whilst attached to the Phantom (on a Zenmuse 3D HD Gimbal) was breath-taking, totally pulled me in and I really saw the potential to use this within my work.

I decided to build a DJi S900 with a Z15 Zenmuse and GH4 which despite being a fantastic bit of kit, and capturing videos that were astonishingly good, with the way I wanted to go forward with this, the s900 wasnt the correct route to take. This was mainly due to mobility, and despite the fact the s900 has folding arms, its still a hassle to carry around as well as the HUGE brick like batteries, Dual Radio Transmitters, monitor etc etc. Just didnt seem a viable route to take. Now aside from the actual quality if the image, I was getting better and more cinematic shots from the Phantom than I was with the S900, this all came down to mobility and the fact I could basically take it anywhere I wanted. The more I used the s900, the more it annoyed me, but the more I used the Phantom, the more I loved it.

It is not always about having the best camera you can get, in the end it is about getting the shot, and if the camera is inferior, then being able to adapt to its limitations to produce something that can still look professional is a rewarding achievement. The biggest limitation with using a GoPro on a phantom is the fish eye, its horrible, and when you remove the distortion you get warping and softness in the corners, there isnt a way to adapt to this, so it put me in a dilemma as I love the image quality from the GH4 on the s900, but love the simplicity and mobility of using a gopro on a phantom as it makes framing a video, or composing an image much more enjoyable. Now what if there was an in-between? Just so happens the new Dji Inspire one had just been released, and basically this was a middle of the range multirotor but with technology that is from a high end multirotor!!!. plus something which is very important to me… lightbridge and the ability to have dual controllers. The inspire was the complete package in theory and all of this including batteries, tablets, controllers and inspire could fit into one portable case and my impressions of the system, absolutely fantastic.

The sensor on the inspire camera is actually a Sony sensor which is used on the GoPro 4  aswell, but without the fish eye lens and ability to take photos and video whilst in the air (something I couldn’t do with the GH4 as I had to bring it back each time to change the mode from video to photo) The quality I have been able to achieve on the Inspire has been excellent. Of course it is not in the same league as the GH4, but working with its limitations, I can create footage that would be hard to tell the difference and this is absolutely perfect for what I want to do. I want to do do weddings, surveying work, promotional videos, documentary work, real estate and of course… Photography. The Inspire one is the perfect all in one package to to this. This is an image below from the inspire, in low light on a cold misty sunrise… the quality is very very good.


There is one slight issue I do have which is you need a Permission For Aerial work from the CAA, and this involves spending ALOT of money to go through a process to allow you to get the permit around the sum of £2000. Right now I can not take on any commerical work and get paid for it, but this is coming, I have made the decision to apply for my PFAW by going through a company called EUROUSC and getting a BNUC-S Qualification.

I have literaly just finished the Ground Course which involves a crazy amount of information to take in about Air Law, Safety, risk assesments etc etc and it really was heavy going and makes you so much more aware of what you need to take into account before even taking your Drone/UAV into the air. There is a 60 question exam at the end, and I actually think I have done ok and feel quietly confident that I have passed which for me is a huge achievement as my academic history in school and college was terrible. Not for a lack of trying, but due to a lack of actually being taking in all the information. When it comes to theory work, I really struggle so I was hoping being older and wiser that my ability to learn would have improved, and I think it might have… We shall see!! I will update if I have passed and post information about what happens next on another blog post.

If anyone has any questions about the course, please feel free to get in touch.


Just to update on this.. I PASSED!! For me this is a massive achievement and the hardest part over with, now I can relax and work through the next 2 stages to getting my permission for aerial work.


2 thoughts on “BNUC-S Ground Theory Exam for Aerial Work

  1. Hi Sam,

    First, congratulations on passing your exam!

    I came across your Sussex Scenes website whilst looking for some inspiration for landscape locations in Sussex, and i glad i did!! You inspired more than location ideas once i discovered you have entered the world or UAV aerial photography, a field i wish to get into as a hobby. I love the aerial view of the Uckfield lake, i live in Uckfield and the scene looks like it could be in the middle of the Amazon! amazing. I’m looking to invest in the DJI Phantom 2 (or maybe 3 if i can convince my wife!). I just wanted to say thanks for the inspiration and i will be a regular visitor to your websites, and a keen promoter of your aerial work!



    • Hello Craig,

      Thanks for the kind words, yes Lakewood is a great spot and a bit of a hidden gem in Uckfield. I have been back recently to get a 360 panoramic image of the lake which I must get uploaded soon. Being able to get such a different vantage point with a UAV is great fun. I actually live in Uckfield too so if you do get a Phantom and want some tips, let me know!! Fight for the Phantom 3, it`ll be worth it, haha.

      Kind Regards

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