Andis Everts, SW Developer on Drone Flying & Racing

I first became interested in Drone Flying & Racing back in 2013 – I had more free time and I decided that I needed a hobby. I remembered my time in primary school when I participated in an airplane modelling group. We were basically making balsa airplane models and I recalled that there was an option to also make motor-powered airplanes that could be controlled with a remote. I never got to make those; when I started technical school, I left airplane modelling aside. So in 2013, I had an idea that I will do something similar. I was intrigued by filming something from above and made my first drone. It was quite big, made of cheap parts that I could afford from eBay. After I built my first drone, I realized that I need to dig deeper – I watched many drone-building YouTube videos and I saw one video where some guys from France were flying racing drones in a forest. I was so amazed and I wanted to do that myself!

My name is Andis Everts. I currently live in Riga, Latvia and work here. I call myself an IT guy who likes to solve all kind of IT problems, mainly technical ones as I have a technical degree. I first became interested in IT when I finished primary school and needed to apply for college. We had our first computer at home and we had quite strict rules – we could use the computer just for one hour a day. Then I had a thought that if I applied for a technical college with profound knowledge in IT, then I will have an excuse to use the computer for more than one hour a day! I was so excited about that idea that I only applied for Riga State Technical School, so there was no Plan B. As time passed, I learned so much great stuff and became more and more interested in this field, so I chose to study for a Bachelor’s degree in the IT field too. I have built my career step-by-step starting as a consultant in an IT shop and now I’m working in Tieto that is in FinTech Rankings Top 25 Enterprise by 2018 IDC Financial Insights.

After getting a degree in Riga State Technical School, I went and lived one year abroad – in Ireland. So, this is a nice turn to be interviewed by a magazine that is based in Dublin, Ireland! While studying in the summer, I was working there as a helper in David’s O ‘Conor construction. At that time, I saw there was an IT computer shop ITEireann LTD in Listowel. So, I thought when I will finish my technical school, I will write an email to that shop. So I did, and I was so happy that Richard accepted me to work for him. That was a great experience and I’m very grateful for that opportunity – I learned many great practical skills there.

After work, I love to spend quality time with my family, meet my friends, or enjoy my hobby of drone flying. Sometimes I feel that I want to do a lot of stuff, but at the end of the day, there is time for just a few things! My leisure time actually revolves around family and drone stuff – I build my drones at home so my kids are also interested (I’m the dad of 2 amazing kids; my son is 4 years old and my daughter is 1.5 years old). When we travel to another city or just to the forest, I usually bring my drone stuff with us, so I manage to do my own hobby too while being close to my family.

YouTube videos have been my biggest inspiration when it comes to my drones. When I see a good video, it inspires me to take action – build and fly. I mostly watch drone building and freestyle videos. Lately, I have started my own YouTube channel Evert.FPV where I share my videos that hopefully will inspire others too.

Currently, there are so many options to choose from when you are making or flying drones. Basically, with flying a drone in FPV (First Person View), you need FPV goggles, the drone itself, a remote controller and lots of batteries. Once you first have the drone in the air, you want to return there more and more! One battery for a racing drone lasts around a couple of minutes, depending on your setup and flying manner – that is why I say that you need a lot of batteries.

When I first started to fly racing drones, I was one of the few people in Latvia who did this. After almost two years of flying, all the pilots who were training came together to talk about how we can popularize this hobby more in Latvia. That was the day Drone Racing Latvia was born and I started to take part in activities & help organize events.

I used to do racing with Drone Racing Latvia – however, I was miserable at it, which is why I don’t do races anymore. To be good at racing, the pilot usually trains many hours a day; even if the person has a great talent, it doesn’t work unless the person works on these skills daily. I can’t say that I didn’t try or didn’t have time, but I can say that I had different priorities (that was the time I was working on my Master’s degree, and later on my son was born). I love to fly freestyle, as there is no need to have insane skills. There are pilots in our community who are excellent and competing in world championships; they are flying daily and investing a lot in their gear. That is the other thing – even if the pilot is great, this is a very technical sport, so the gear and equipment must be on point every time. I feel that this intense training is not for me, but I enjoy flying a lot and that is why I build drones, train freestyle and chase drift cars instead.

I think the key qualities needed to be good at Drone Racing are flying, flying, flying (and also a bit of talent). If you want to be good at this sport, you must be willing to spend lots of hours flying your drone daily and also invest in your gear. This is like a computer game but once you crash out, you need to go and pick up the drone. If you don’t want to pick up your drone often, you must be good at flying (but you can’t become good without flying … see where this is going?).

What I love most about Drone Flying is that feeling when I am in the air. Since I use FPV goggles, the feeling is almost as if I am flying myself, so there is definitely an adrenaline rush. We also have that saying in drone community: “break drones not bones”. It is quite a safe sport, and even if I have technical difficulties or something happens in the air, my physical body usually stays the same. And this is very important for me to be safe while enjoying my adrenaline rush, since I have a wonderful wife and kids to go home to (even with broken gear sometimes).

My most memorable good experience with this hobby was when I assembled my first drone for the first time and lifted it off the ground. I had seen lots of videos where a drone spins out, catches on fire, and is a complete disaster. So when I made it for the first time, with no previous experience and it was okay in the first try, I was like: “Wow, great job”!

But I can’t say that there are always only happy moments. I have experienced my drone drowning (due to a bad signal), and I have lost GoPro session5 (my favourite!) in the forest due to a bad crash into a tree. I have had one of the drift cars destroy my drone and other sad stuff has happened too. I usually share them on my Instagram platform (@evert.fpv) and many pilots can learn from my mistakes or relate to this. It is not always unicorns and rainbows! I am learning from my mistakes and I am blessed to have such a supportive family – we even have had a date night with my wife in woods with a metal detector trying to find my missing GoPro. That is what love is!

I think people can become more active in the Drone community by flying, spreading the word, and taking part in events. I film from the drone, work on the video, and then post the end result on my social media. As members of Drone Racing Latvia, we are organising more drone races in Latvia. We are also participating in big local events – for example on 11 May 2019, we participated in Physics Days, where we showed drones to teenagers and kids, and they had an opportunity to fly little drones too. We educated kids on drone topics and helped to answer questions regarding drones and physics.

My future goal with my drones is to fly more and more. It is not so popular yet in Latvia, but in the world I have seen, it is possible to earn a living with flying. I would love to do that! But for now, it is just an expensive hobby!

I think that IT and drone racing are very close together. Without IT programming, we would not be able to fly in such a way as we fly currently. All the programming in the drone’s brain is just incredible, especially since it is mostly open source and made by the community itself.

Drone Flying is a sport almost everybody can do. My advice to anyone looking to participate in drone flying is don’t be afraid to try! Now is a great time to start – drone parts are accessible and there are so many tutorials on the Internet how to build drones. There are lots of simulators out there, so you can try to fly on the computer before you crash your own drone in real life. At first, find inspiration from other drone pilots and then become an inspiration yourself – share your story and share your knowledge! This is such a great & supportive community to be a part of.

I do think there is always more than tech. We need to share our hobbies because technologists are not just coding and working 24/7 in office (or basement). We have lots of exciting interests and it is worth showing the world who we are. So let’s meet in the air!

To see Andis’ YouTube and Instagram profiles, be sure to check the following links:

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