Just over 10 kilometers from the Adolfo Suárez-Madrid Barajas airport is the first Spanish covered aerodrome “and perhaps in the world,” says César de la Macorra, one of the fathers of this infrastructure. Hidden behind the industrial buildings of Alcobendas (Madrid) are the facilities of César de la Macorra and David Cerrato. Both are united by two things: family ties and a taste for drones.
“We had this ship without activity since the crisis and we saw the opportunity to be able to play with our teams,” explains De la Macorra. The start of the idea dates back to 2014. “We wanted to test our drones and because of the legislation it was not possible”, adds Cerrato.
Spanish legislation is clear: flying drones in urban areas, crowds of people and areas near airports is prohibited. So the only way uncle and nephew found is to clean up his old industrial warehouse. All this took a year. “We have laid the grass, we have hung the safety nets and we have even made our own ‘software’. All of us,” says Cerrato. The entrance to the aerodrome is the summary of the beginnings of this project. “We are the example of ‘Do it Yourself'”, comments De la Macorra.
Thanks to their training (both are engineers), they managed to build from scratch the four aerodrome tracks, the obstacles and “also the ‘software’ that gives life to the missions that one can enjoy.” An “open source” computer work. “Our goal is for people to come here, try and learn. But this technology is also designed so that a company can apply it and teach flight courses for drone pilots,” they add.
The ship has four small pilots, four checkpoints where users “can fly their drones or use the ones we have available.” Next to each flight location, four independent computers allow you to select up to nine types of missions to put pilots’ skills into practice. One click and the stopwatch starts counting. “You can try to improve your record or just practice.” Although the main challenge from the beginning is to lift the drone from the start table.
Once the flight begins, the difficulty of the test is established by the chosen mission. Nine zigzag doors to complete the job. “Each obstacle is designed to record the passage of each drone,” de la Macorra points out in detail.
Thanks to their engineering knowledge, uncle and nephew have been able to lift their field of obstacles and with ‘transponders’ (devices that collect the drone’s path) manufactured in their small workshop they manage to record the times of their clients. Just over 30 seconds to demonstrate your ability and overcome the marks established by other users. “It will surprise you, but the record is held by a 13-year-old boy.” A fight against the clock and also against the controls of the aircraft. “Ability depends on each person and not on age,” explains De la Macorra.
Before moving on to the skill tracks, it is necessary to have previous learning and familiarization with the ships to be piloted. “It is not a toy,” they recall again. In its private garage, you can find various types of drones, from the simplest to pilot – it works with an autopilot – to an aircraft that reaches 100 kilometers per hour in just under three seconds. “Although this is only for quite experienced people,” emphasizes Cerrato.
For 10 euros, the user has 20 minutes of experience to fight the chronometer and for 5 “you can enjoy a competition with your friends”. “Sadly, the activity still does not give to maintain all the infrastructure; it does not give benefits,” say the founders.
Beyond the leisure that can be enjoyed in this small center, its owners also offer educational work for the sector. Santa Claus and the Three Kings have left a drone in many homes this Christmas, “but keep in mind that this is not a toy,” warns David Cerrato.
“We are committed to good educational work in this regard, both in use and security,” he says. For this, with a certain frequency the 520-square-meter ship hosts seminars in a hall to train drone pilots.
“It is not only an educational task, we also advise on the purchase of devices because then not all are ideal. But then the calls are when they have already committed the” crime “and nothing can be done, just resign themselves,” jokes Cerrato.