Doctors told Bevan Lyons he’d be dead by Christmas 2018.
They were wrong.
The 67-year-old Australian is still here, and he’s crossed an item off his Bucket List – to become a licensed drone pilot. Despite being diagnosed with a rare respiratory disease, Lyons thumbed his nose at mortality, joining a coastal, drone life-saving group.
Last month, the New South Wales resident completed certification to qualify as a Westpac Life Saver Rescue Drone pilot with Surf Life Saving NSW. Lyons joins 350 other life-saving, UAV training-program graduates who patrol Sydney’s northern beaches.
Surf Life Saving drone pilots conduct coastal surveillance, monitor surf conditions, spot marine species and assist with search-and-rescue operations.
“It’s fantastic. The course was just magic. They gave me so many tips that make it easier to fly drones,” Lyons said in a SLSNSW’s press release.
“If I can help someone, I can. I’ve got so many people helping me. I just want to give my time to help others. These guys go out and save people. I can help make their job easier,” he added.
“Surf Life Saving’s partnership with Westpac offers people a unique opportunity to become a surf lifesaver,” UAV Coordinator Paul Hardy said.
“We want to be as inclusive as possible and offer people the chance to participate and help save lives, even if they are unable to perform rescues in the surf,” he added.
Lyons’ wife Sylvia couldn’t be prouder of her husband.
“He doesn’t have the capacity to do a lot of physical exercise or anything like that,” she said. “He keeps his brain active and he decided to get a drone.”
“He’s reached this point which allows him to do a lot of things that can be beneficial to the community.”
Australia continues to innovate in public safety drones along its many beaches.
An Australian shark-repellent company is deploying the “Little Ripper,” a military-grade drone that costs around $180,000. The fixed-wing UAV comes equipped with a high-def camera and a detachable pod that can hold emergency medical equipment, shark repellent and an inflatable life raft.