Tim French is more commonly known as the Bunnings Sausage Guy, and he has certainty turned heads with some of his stunts. We will preface this interview with saying that at SkyStock we support safe flying, however aviation was built on pushing limits on what people thought was possible, and we had to take the opportunity to hear from Tim and his story.
SkyStock (SS): Let’s begin where it all started, the Bunnings sausage. How did this come about?
Tim: I’ve always had an interest in RC planes & cars since I was about 6 years old. I can remember having a scorcher which was like a 6×6 rc car then moving onto an air hogs plane, which you would pump up with air from a plastic pump then spin the motor and watch it fly.
Since technology advanced and drones started to be developed, I purchased a DJI Phantom 2+ Vision. This was back in early 2014 we started having a lot of fun with it, flying it around the neighbourhood and impressing the locals who back then had never seen such a vehicle. Time moved on and the phantom 4 came out at my local JB Hifi, I think I was one of the first to grab one. My friend Chris and I noticed this model had much more thrust, so we tried attaching different payload including beers & food.
As I was standing on my deck flying the new drone you could just make out the Bunnings sign in the horizon, A crazy idea suddenly came to mind. Would it be possible to pick up a snag and bring it back? After some logistical thinking, and the ridiculous range these drones have I thought we might be able to pull it off.
We waited weeks for the perfect weekend where the snags were flowing and there wasn’t any wind. We set up a mate down at the snag stand with a camera setup. I flew it in where a mate done the hook up, then a second shoot where I was in the hot tub and a mate lowered it, later that night we cropped it together and put it on YouTube. 3 days later absolute mayhem begun.
SS: The next stunt was taking on Alyssa Healy’s world record cricket ball catch. You managed to better the record of 82.5 metres to 102.3 metres and suffered a broken finger for the privilege. When can we expect to see you in the record books?
Tim: It was considered unofficial as you usually need the right evidence and an official there to declare it a record. Got pinged from CASA on that one apparently “dropping and discharging of things” is an offence, however Alyssa Healy sent me a letter and free tickets to the cricket world cup.
SS: Your more recent stunt was the chair fishing drone. What was your inspiration and what did you catch?
Tim: After seeing a lot of human lifting drones being developed on the internet, there was some seriously crazy vehicles being built. I liked the thought of it. I was making some reasonable money at the time and thought it would be a fun project to attempt. I originally wanted to make a hover car and fly it down to Bunnings for a snag, but I realised I would get in quite a lot of trouble for that stunt. After 12 months of research, $15,000 and some help from a few local steel engineering places. The dream came to life!
We found a nice location for the stunt with a deep river that would be perfect, so we organised a stunt man (my cousin) to sit in the chair. Plenty of testing and prototypes were undertaken till we eventually organised a date and invited friends and family to attend the stunt.
We had him lift up with a dead trout already on the end of the line, we also had a fishing line with drag connected to the corner of the chair to stop the chair spinning due to all the prop wash, which worked really well. Later that week we made it to the Today show again and won $10,000.
SS: While some of your stunts were quite daring, you have also felt the wrath of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority. What were the consequences for your actions?
Tim: I have had 4 infringement notices & copped a warrant to search 2 premises for the big drone we called Tracey. I made some money during the stunts from competitions and news interviews, so the fines didn’t really worry me, it was more the thought of possibly going to court during the investigation was a little nerve racking.
SS: We have seen you tease us about a delivery drone and a go-kart with propellers, so our final question is what’s next for Tim French?
Tim: I’m working on a food/item delivery prototype with a pilot friend of mine, it’s a challenging task as it must be super safe, reliable, be able to fly during rain and wind. and not crash!!
I’ll be uploading some videos of it shortly, but you better believe if the business takes off, we will be delivering free Bunnings snags on opening day.
Thanks to Tim for giving us some insights into some of the interesting projects he has been involved in. If you keen on following his progress you can check out his YouTube Channel.
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