04.22.17 Kespry

People Behind the Kespry Products: George Fahmy

Great advances in industrial technology are made by people, not companies, so let us welcome you to a new series of talks in which we meet the People Behind the Kespry Products that are shaping aerial intelligence. In our first interview, we’re speaking with George Fahmy, Lead Flight Test Engineer at Kespry.

Today we’re speaking with George Fahmy. George is the Lead Flight Test Engineer at Kespry.

George, thanks so much for joining me today.

Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Let’s start at the beginning – where did you grow up?

I grew up in San Jose, California, it’s about 20 miles away from Kespry and I have been here my entire life.

What were some of your hobbies when you were younger?

I’ve always been interested in engineering and how things work. Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved playing with Legos and train tracks. As I got older I started getting into remote control airplanes and other remote control things. Eventually, about 10 years ago, I had the opportunity to begin using quadcopters and drones.They’re everywhere now but I started playing with them as toys about 10 years ago and I’ve been doing it ever since.

I know that you’re a pilot – what was the process like to become a pilot?

Well, it was a long process for me because I was doing it while I was working. After I graduated college and got a job, I finally decided to pursue my hobby one step further. Instead of flying remote control airplanes, I wanted to fly a real airplane, so I began my pilot training. Over two and a half years I was training with my instructor, flying different airplanes and building up my experience and all the requirements to get the license. After two and half years I took the exam, passed, and it was very exciting.

I’ve been flying for about 4 1/2 years now, including my training. If you’re passionate about airplanes, even if you don’t necessarily want to become a commercial pilot, it’s a lot of fun just being able to hop into a plane and go fly over the city, for example, and fly down the coast during the sunset.

You are currently building your own plane – tell me a little bit more about this project

Yes, I am, in fact, building a full-scale airplane. As I got involved in my hobby of remote control airplanes and drones, they kept getting bigger and bigger and eventually they got so big that I couldn’t fit them in my car anymore. I just decided to go full-scale after I got my pilot’s license, more than a year ago, as my interest in flying kept growing and renting an airplane is very expensive. Buying an airplane could have been an option but as an engineer I wanted to build my own. I had the opportunity to build an airplane from a kit by an amazing manufacturer that is probably the most popular kit aircraft manufacturer in the country, probably in the world, actually. I’m about a year and a half into it and hopefully I’m more than halfway done. We’ll see. It has been a fun project so far and hopefully I’ll be done and enjoy flying all over the country in my own airplane.

Amazing. I personally really enjoy your blog posts and for folks that are curious, where can they see more of your posts?

I have a website – the web address is n890gf.com and I update it every time I work on the aircraft. I also post pictures on Instagram which is also linked on my website.

You’re the lead flight test engineer at Kespry – can you tell me a little bit about your day-to-day responsibilities?

Sure. I coordinate on making sure that all the drones, both development drones, test drones, as well as, drones that we are shipping to customers, get the required testing to ensure that the product we’re shipping out is up to the quality that Kespry cares about. The average day consists of checking with our manufacturing guys to make sure the drones that are ready to go, ready for testing, are taken care of for that day, as well as, doing the data analysis on drones that we’re testing new software on. Which is a lot of fun because it’s really hands-on.

When you’re not busy working at Kespry, what do you like to do for fun?

So this past winter – which was a really good winter here in California – I went snowboarding quite a lot. That is definitely my number one favorite winter hobby. I took maybe eight trips this winter which is more than I’ve taken in the last few years. I’m also a big sports fan. The Warriors have been really good and I’ve been watching them play and went to a couple of games this year, which is a lot of fun. I also play a little bit of soccer. I finished up a three month soccer season that was playing on the weekends and now I’m playing every Tuesday which is keeping me in shape a little bit.

You’ve been at Kespry for a while now – what’s it like to work here?

It has been almost two years and a lot of fun. I have enjoyed every single day. It’s a pleasure to come into the office or down at our test site, it’s beautiful, foothills of the Bay Area. Right now it’s really green, so the scenery is really nice and every single day it’s a pleasure. We have free food which is awesome – snacks and drinks. The company is good. Everyone’s really nice and friendly. It’s all about making sure that the relationships within the company with individuals is very friendly.

Your background is really fascinating and I’m curious, do you have any advice for someone who’s really passionate about aerospace and they’re thinking about working in the commercial drone industry?

Sure. My advice for anyone who wants to get into this space, whether it be quadrotors like Kespry or fixed-wing, it’s all about software right now. So with my aerospace background, I wasn’t really involved in software in school but since I started working at Kespry, I’ve definitely become more involved with the software development. Not necessarily doing any coding myself but being able to understand what the software is doing has given me much better understanding of the aerospace side of it. The flight controls, the dynamics, the stability because all of these aerospace concepts that I learned in school can be translated into our product through the software that we design. So my advice to anyone, whether they’re still in school or they are just fresh out of college is get involved with the software side of the product. In the drone space it’s all unmanned, so it all comes down to the software. If you can differentiate yourself as someone who has a good understanding of software, as well as, aerospace concepts, that will really leverage you compared to other engineers who might not have that experience.

It has been so awesome to chat with you, George. Thank you so much for making the time today.

No problem. Thank you.