Red Dawn

What were you doing when you were fifteen years old? I’ll bet you weren’t out conducting aerial reconnaissance hoping to use that information to destroy enemy Russian troops heading to your town. At least you weren’t unless you were part of the fictional account in the movie Red Dawn.

Ukrainian President Zelensky has called on his people time and time again to do all they can to “repel the occupiers.” In numerous ways, civilians are playing critical roles in helping protect their homeland and taking the fight to the Russians. Fifteen-year-old ninth-grade drone pilot Andriy Pokrasa and his father, Stanislav, residents of the greater Kyiv area, were among the earliest to answer the call to duty.

Andriy is shown here flying his drone in his yard.
Andriy is shown here flying one of his drones around his yard. Screenshot from YouTube courtesy of Global News

The summer before the war began, Andriy worked to earn enough money to buy a small drone. Little did he know, he’d be putting it to great use. In an interview with Global News, he noted, “I’m afraid of heights, but I love flying,” he says. “I like taking pictures from up high.”  

After the February 24th invasion, the Pokrasa’s village of Kolonschina found itself in the way of the Russian push to Kyiv. Tanks and other military vehicles were headed their way in large numbers. To get an idea of exactly how many troops were on their way and where they were coming from, the government put out the call for drone pilots. GN interviewed the owner of a drone shop, who told them that at the time of the invasion, Ukraine’s military lacked short-range, ultra-maneuverable drones.

Have Drone, Will Travel

The shop owner did what you do in the 21st century; he took to Facebook and asked if any Ukrainian civilian drone owners would be willing to help out and gather video intelligence on Russian troop movements. He categorized the response as “overwhelming.” According to ABC News, Andriy posted that he had a drone and knew how to use it. He told them that Yuri Kasyanov of the Civil Defense Forces (CDF) had responded to his post. At the time, the CDF was not aware he was a teenager.

The CDF asked Andriy and his father to take the drone to the village of Makariv, not far from Kyiv. Andriy is quoted as saying,

“There were fuel trucks, tanks, artillery, armored personnel carriers, I tracked them on a drone, they were in my picture. And then I opened the tab with the map on the drone and put a mark on it and the coordinates appeared there.”

Close up image of a small drone in a hover
A smaller, maneuverable drone of the type was used to identify the exact location of Russian troops—screenshot from YouTube courtesy of Global News.

As they made their way to their covert observation point, mom back home was a nervous wreck. She told GN she had no way of contacting her family and was worried sick.