When the opportunity to go to Kyle, Texas in March for Rantizo’s DJI T30 Training came up for this Michigan guy you can be sure I was going. A little break from the winter, soak up some sun, eat great food, and fly one of DJI’s largest spray drone sounded like the perfect formulation.
Journey to Texas
Travel started by airline from Kalamazoo to San Antonio via Chicago finishing with a rental car drive up to Kyle, TX. The airline trip was pretty uneventful considering the thunderstorms in the Texas area. When we got in our rental car and drove up to Kyle, we were met with a great Texas welcome of severe thunderstorms and three tornados. Texas does everything big, even their welcome weather.
Training the next day was delayed because of the previous evenings storms which delayed other flights of instructors and students who were flying into Austin, TX. The training location was being held at Austin Community Colleges Public Safety Training Center in Kyle, Tx. This facility is a state-of-the-art Law Enforcement training center with driving tracks, gun ranges, and tactical training areas. Why does Rantizo do drone spraying training here? Well, the ACC Public Safety Training Center is also a FAA certified training facility where law enforcement can go to learn and become certified to fly drones. Coupled with weather that is usually good for flying all year round make this a great partnership for Rantizo and the training center. We felt very welcomed by the training center the entire time we were there.
The first part of training was spent in the classroom. Rantizo Chief Pilot Adam Langer and Director of Operations Juan Cantu went over the T30’s conditions, limitations, check flights, filing NOTAMS and setback requirements. Since this is an over 55lb class drone the FAA has very specific requirements for the operation of the T30.
We then proceeded to learn how to use the flight controller which was considerably different than the DJI AGRAS MG-1P’s controller in a good way. Because of the screen placement, the controller felt more balanced in your hands and easier to operate. We also learned about the T30 itself and it was nice seeing major improvements such as a 360-degree radar system, front and rear cameras, and actual tank level sensors. Items that seemed like shortfalls in previous spray drones were added with this new drone.
While some of the operational software seemed familiar it also saw its share of improvements. Using the screen physically seemed easier and the software had nice new features allowing you to not only see how much material remained but also the most efficient place to return to home to refill. This should cut down drone transit time in the air while not working. The software also included improvements in mission planning as well as modes adding boundary spraying to the operation to ensure the outer edges all get good coverage.
With the classroom training portion completed nothing was left but to go out and fly the T30 putting our new knowledge to practical use. This however would need to wait until the next day because our weather was not cooperating with high winds prevailing.
Flying the T30
The next day’s weather was a major improvement. We were finally able to go out and complete the hands-on portion of the training. It started off with learning the setup, filling, and charging of the drone’s 22lb battery. With the pre-takeoff checks completed we finally got the drone in the air. Post takeoff control checks were performed to ensure the controller was able to control the drone in all axis of flight. Even though this drone was large (171.96lb max takeoff weight), it felt very smooth on the controls. I even think it handled better than the MG-1P.
Time was spent flying box patterns, circles, etc to get the feel for the drone and get some sense of comfort at the controls. We also practiced with the different operational modes to gain familiarity with the software and hardware features. This drone felt comfortable from first lift-off to final landing. It may partially be from the experience I have gained flying spray drones in the past but this one felt different in a much better way.
Since the T30 has much more capabilities over early AGRAS versions we went back into the training classroom to learn about the DJI Terra software and how it can help mapping and spray mission planning. This is software I started to use last year with the MG-1P, but Terra has much more functionality with the T30.
With training now complete it was time to head back to snowy and cold Michigan. This was a trip filled with great people, places, and food. The training time was a great experience that will help my operation of the T30 this season. All that is left is to receive the T30, add it to our fleet, and get it out in the field so our clients can get the benefits of this much improved spray drone.