“He knew basic first aid, so he didn’t move my neck. He put me on my back and lifted my head above the water.”
Tom Caska was airlifted to hospital after fracturing his neck in a kitesurfing accident. Credit: Supplied Tom Caska
Mr Caska is not only walking again, he also cycles marathons despite plates holding his neck in place with carbon fibre screws. He has defied initial concerns that he might never walk again.
“The aerodynamics are quite similar. A lot of the technology is like being on a flight deck.”
Tom Caska with his drone in Sydney Credit: SBS News / Sandra Fulloon
In 2018, Mr Caska took his drone flying one step further, starting a business called Aerologix with colleague Rakesh Routhu. The platform connects drone pilots to clients and is described on its website as an “Uber for drones”.
“We aim to start delivering medical supplies later this year, specifically to Indigenous communities in western NSW.”
We aim to start delivering medical supplies later this year, specifically to Indigenous communities in western NSW.
Tom Caska, Aerologix
“Aerologix uses deep tech to support drone pilots and customers. We also source and provide cutting edge technology to enhance pilots’ workflow and ensure accuracy,” he says.
Rakesh Routhu in Sydney. Credit: SBS News / Sandra fulloon
The medical supplies trial closes a full career circle for Mr Caska, who began flying for Broome Air Services as a young pilot.
“So a drone delivery is a far more economical and sustainable way to deploy from a regional hub than sending a light plane.”
“Someone who is very unwell and is perhaps doing chemotherapy in a regional area may need antibiotics really quickly. So their doctor can just pop the medication on a drone and get it out there.”
Business partners Tom Caska and Rakesh Routhu. Credit: SBS News / Sandra Fulloon
Dr Ball says there are multiple applications of drone technology being tested in Australia.
Drones assisting farmers
“Drones also capture imagery with a clear resolution – which can be especially useful during times of heavy rain and cloud cover when satellite information is limited.”
Drones were used to assist emergency services rescue people from rising floodwaters. Credit: NSW Rural Fire Service
During the recent flooding in Northern NSW, drones were used to assess damage in areas that were still too dangerous for larger aircraft or had limited road access.
“Drones gave us high-quality aerial vision of the area, and they were essentially transmitting information back instantly.”
Tom Caska and Rakesh Routhu flying a drone in Sydney. Credit: SBS News / Sandra Fulloon
The Aerologix online network now has 10,000 pilots across Australia. Many of those pilots lost their income during the Covid-19 pandemic.
It was also recently onboarded into the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) digital sky platform, meaning both its Aerologix iOS and android apps ingests CASA weather updates, location-based information and maps that show where pilots can and can’t fly.
Tom Caska during his flying days. Credit: Supplied Tom Caska
Aerologix recently completed a $4.2 million funding round. Capital will be used to invest in additional research and development and expand the company’s commercial team.