Catching the Sun

Our Week Pilot Training in Portugal
Cyberhawk Portugal Training Facility Jan18 jpg
08 Sep 2021

Where does your mind go when you think of Portugal?

Blue waters and bronzed skin? Piri-piri chicken and fruity port wine?

While it certainly means all of those things, here at Cyberhawk it means something else too. Portugal is where we took our team of pilots – both trainee and experienced – for a unique set of warm weather training.

Why Did We Go?

UK weather doesn’t always lend itself well to drone flight and can often offer obstacles that hinder pilot training or asset inspection.

Rain is no friend to electronics at the best of times but can cause particular issue – and ultimately lots of risk – when it concerns something that takes flight.

High winds affect the stability and direction of our drones – which not only is a safety issue but affects our inspection work as it becomes more difficult to take good quality footage when the drone is being moved around involuntarily.

Despite this, we weren’t going to let bad weather affect our pilots’ training. So we devised a solution that would not only get our guys trained up, but we were going to do it in record time.

We were going to Portugal.

Why Portugal?

While Portugal was the ideal choice because of its perfect weather conditions, there was a second reason why we chose it as our destination.

Our trip took us south of Lisbon, specifically to a small town named Setubal. There, amongst various industrial parks, exists a decommissioned powerplant.

It was like the training ground of our dreams.


One of the reasons we chose Setubal Power Station was because of its substantial size and the number of assets and components that its made up of. These factors make it the perfect training ground for a new geovisual pilot and ideal for learning how to take orthophotos, panoramics and sphericals.


It’s not possible to train utility pilots in a live environment with functioning towers as it presents high levels of risk as accidental drone collisions with live power lines can have deadly consequences.

For that reason we usually simulate the would-be tower with something lower-risk but similar in size, such as a lighting column.

Because Setubal was decommissioned in 2013, that risk was lowered completely and allowed our pilot the golden opportunity to train with real towers.

Oil & Gas

Similar to utility pilots, oil and gas ones must train with simulated assets.

Chimney stacks with billowing smoke or flares with unrelenting flames can both present very different, but equally dangerous, challenges to even the most experienced pilot.

Again, our decision to choose Setubal paid dividends as perhaps the most striking part of its make-up are the two enormous chimney stacks that sit in its middle.

Our pilot was gifted the chance to get up and close and personal with these magnificent monuments.


Over the course of one week, we managed to fully train a team of three pilots over three separate levels successfully.

This was due in no small part to the excellent conditions that the Portuguese climate can boast, but also because of the fantastic assets that became our training facilities.

If we had stayed at home, our guys would likely not have been a quarter of the way through their training. Instead, they arrived home qualified and ready to get on the job as soon as they got off the plane.

One flight done, on to the next one. That’s the Cyberhawk way.