Who would have thought flying model aircraft might one day be
a job? But by the end of this month, one of 20 Otago
applicants for just such a job will be starting work.
Cromwell surveying and planning company BTW South Ltd is
looking for someone to fly its $90,000, radio-controlled
fixed-wing aircraft over the farms it has contracts to map.
Company director Mike Borthwick told the Otago Daily Times
the company had advertised locally and received 20
applications from between Alexandra and Queenstown.
''I'm surprised at how overrun I have been with applicants.''
BTW bought its TopoDrone-100 aircraft made by Adelaide
company DroneMetrex in May to help map large-scale farms for
new irrigation systems.
The aircraft requires two people to operate: one to look
after the flying and the other to deal with the on-board GPS
survey equipment and camera.
Mr Borthwick said two company staff members had trained in
Australia in December to fly the aircraft, but their time was
better spent with the survey equipment.
''This gives the opportunity for someone experienced in
flying model aircraft to get paid to do what they love to
And the job does not sound too onerous.
The plane, with a wingspan of 2m, does pretty much everything
on auto pilot and follows a predetermined flight path.
The pilot's main job will be to take over if there is a
''Like any technology, you only trust it so far,'' Mr
''You have to have someone who can fly it if something goes
wrong or if an aircraft comes into your survey area.''
The aircraft is worth about $20,000, with the rest of the
cost in the survey equipment it carries.
Mr Borthwick said it was not insured.
The company was one of only two South Island survey companies
using a remote-controlled aircraft but it was probably the
first time a dedicated pilot had been sought.
Mr Borthwick said the company had been through an
accreditation process with the Civil Aviation Authority to be
able to fly its aircraft under model aircraft rules.
CAA is in the process of establishing rules for
Using the aircraft greatly reduced the cost of farm mapping,
Mr Borthwick said, turning a four-day survey job using
motorcycles into a two-hour job.
Using the remote-controlled aircraft was also much cheaper
and produced a more accurate result than using a conventional
''The big thing at the moment is the efficient use of water;
so this gives irrigation designers the tool they need to be
able to design the irrigation to best fit the property in the
most cost-efficient way and the most water-friendly way.''