A teenage Ukrainian drone pilot is being hailed a hero for the help he provided to the armed forced in the opening days of the war.
Andriy Pokrasa, 15, and his family were living on the outskirts of Kyiv when Russia invaded on February 24, making rapid progress towards the capital.
With few drone pilots available in the area and an urgent need for intelligence, the territorial defense accepted Andriy’s offer to help.
Using a small commercial drone, Andriy and his father would go onto to provide aerial photography showing Russian tank movements, that was then passed on to the military to help adjust Ukrainian artillery.
“My dad and I took photos and coordinates, then the territorial defense located the place and we provided the photos and the location to the Armed Forces,” he explained during a demo flight in the countryside near his home.
“With a tablet, they narrowed down the coordinates more accurately and transmitted them by walkie-talkie so as to adjust the artillery. What I just described, it happened very quickly, literally in 5-7 minutes.”
Andriy, who had been flying drones for about a year, said he helped because he feared what could happen to his home if the Russians succeeded to their advance.
“This is my home. I didn’t want to see what was happening in the occupied territories happen to my house,” he said.
Andriy helped for about ten days before the situation became too dangerous and he and his mother were able to be evacuated to Poland.
He returned to Ukraine after finishing his school year in Poland.
“I was happy that I contributed, that I was able to do something. Not just sitting and waiting.