Alvin “A.J.” Walsh
My love of model aviation began at age 12 with an .049 class Cox P40 control line aircraft. That quickly led to building and flying larger control line equipment for acrobatics and combat. This interest continued even after my first airplane ride two years later. For my 14th birthday, my uncle took me flying in a Cessna 172, and I was hooked. Thereafter I spent every free moment hanging out at the local airport, working there when opportunities arose, and earning money to buy flight time (and the occasional model aircraft). I soon got my private pilot’s license, followed by a number of certifications, and within four short years, I began teaching others to fly in that very same airplane. Building a career in aviation delayed my entry into RC fixed wings until much later; two years from now, I’ll be retiring from a career as a pilot with a major airline. Over the years, I earned a B.S. in Professional Aviation and a variety of piloting certificates and ratings in Single-engine, Multi-engine, Land, Sea, Glider, and Air Transport aircraft. I have instructed in those aircraft, and I also hold Flight Engineer and Senior Parachute Rigger certificates.
In my senior year in college, I developed an avid interest in skydiving; I jumped, flew, instructed, competed, and ran an exhibition team. This period of my life closely resembled today’s FPV environment: growing the hobby/sport through experimentation and comradery. We’d hear or think of an idea and then go figure out how to do it – exciting times! In 2015, a friend recruited me to help with a construction company’s new drone inspection division, flying DJI products. Our initial job included making the first drone flight that we know of on a nuclear power generation facility; we flew external inspections on one of the active cooling towers at the Enrico Fermi Nuclear Generating Station in Monroe, Michigan. This prevented a three-day shutdown, with scaffold building and hands-on inspection, which would have otherwise been necessary.
With the help of FliteTest, I built my first two multirotors to learn systems knowledge and provide an “expendable” aerial photography unit for testing interference issues we were experiencing on a job site. Rotor Riot is responsible for morphing my interests into a love for freestyle, my favorite form of recreation. FPV, particularly with multirotors, has brought back the excitement of flight – a hobby I’ve long enjoyed.
My past experiences make me appreciate the FPV experience perhaps more than most. Having been involved in previous sports or hobbies that were often misunderstood and prejudiced against, I want to protect and grow FPV flight through today’s changes and challenges.