This morning we interview Benacci Palloto, our newest UAS pilot to join the USA Operations Team.
Q: Morning, Ben (Benacci). What is your job title at Cyberhawk and how long have you been with Cyberhawk
A: I am a UAS Pilot for the USA operations team and I am currently tasked with USA-focused development. I have been with the company for little over a month now!
Q: What is your educational background?
A: I studied in a dual program with my undergrad in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in aerospace engineering with an Aviation minor.
Q: Rumour has it, you’ve got a pretty exciting story about how did you hear about Cyberhawk – care to share?
A: Before I started my career with Cyberhawk, I had recently moved back home (Pittsburgh, USA) after studying in Sydney, Australia. At the time I settled for a low-key job making coffees at my local Starbucks. Shortly after starting with the global coffee chain, I noticed one of my soon-to-become-regular customers ordering the same drink every morning. His broad Scottish accent made him stand out like a sore thumb when side-by-side with the locals. We started chatting about the UK and our travels around the world. We became good friends seeing each other every morning… He brought me some Scottish beers and I told him of some good spots to check out around the local area and I suggested we needed to hang out before he left for Scotland. He handed me his card which read “Ian Gilchrist - Senior Surveyor / Drone Pilot”. With my educational background I immediately took interest in what he did and how he broke into that career. That evening we chatted about Ian’s progression through his career and how my education was transferable to following a similar, if not the same, career path. A few beers later Ian said to me, “You know, Benacci, we’re looking to expand into the US, and I know we’ll need some US Pilots. If you’d like I could put your CV into the right hands?” I excitedly accepted and a few month later I met with CEO Chris Fleming and SVP of US Adam Saciuk for my first interview. Fast forward several weeks and here I am in the UK to complete my pilot training and gearing up to help complete our current US project.
Q: What was it about Cyberhawk in particular that appealed to you?
A: I really didn’t want to be an engineer that sat behind a desk all day. I was happy to be in an office, yes, but primarily I want to be out in the field gaining hands on experience. I wanted to learn about the problems the construction and energy industries are facing and how they’re currently being solved and find my place in helping create genuine solutions that betters the world of technical innovation and engineering. I see this position of invaluable opportunity.
Q: What does a typical day at Cyberhawk look like for you?
A: Right now, I am working through my training fundamental pilot training, meaning my main priority is surveying. Cyberhawk have the highest level of safety-focused training I’ve encountered, and it certainly isn’t a crash course. Our current project in Pittsburgh is to aid a major client in meeting the requirements of the DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) and ensure that there are no hazards being introduced to the environment while they drill their new pipeline. My job is to survey the land around the drill sites and provide a suitable set of data to show that there are no hazards, and if there are, it’s my job to ensure we stay on top of keeping it contained and safe.
Q: How has your training been and what has it included?
A: Training has been very exciting. When I started training in the US, I was just shadowing the pilots on real-world jobs. I can’t stress enough how safety focused Cyberhawk are; I wasn’t even allowed to touch the controls until I passed my first assessment. Now that I’m in the UK, passed my basic training and I have enrolled in the full hands-on training, I am pilot training with a variety of the UAS which we use on various jobs around the world.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add which our readers may find interesting?
A: Before I studied engineering, I was a music student playing for huge venues and traveling the country. It was completely unfulfilling to me. After a few years of intense studies in engineering, I eventually just needed to take a break and work in a coffee shop. But it was in that coffee shop that I made the most exciting connection that has led me to a dream job and opportunity of a lifetime.