Georges Sayegh was born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1966. After studying Business Administration at the American University of Beirut, he moved to Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1987, fleeing a war-torn country to extend his studies. It was in South Africa where he met and married his wife, Tracey Sayegh, with whom he has three children. It was also in the country where he discovered his passion for wildlife, venture, and opportunities.
Having a trading background, he started a company in 1987 in the manufacturing and distribution of costume jewelry. In 1991, he opened retail stores around the areas of Johannesburg, specializing in high-end merchandise out of Europe, acquiring international leather and bag brands to distribute in Sub-Saharan countries. These brands included the likes of Marco Polo, Francesco Biasia, Kipling, Harley Davidson Accessories, Longchamp, and Piquadro.
Obtaining all this experience in the trade and having a background in finance, Georges and his partner Otto Werdmuller acquired Fabio Milano (Pty) Ltd in 2001, a chain store distributor of sleepwear, corsetry, underwear, and socks. Together they built the company to supply all the main chain stores around South Africa with their merchandise.
Amongst all these business ventures as well as his travel through Africa and with his love for wildlife, Georges started investing in drone technology to protect endangered species, such as Elephant and Rhino. With that, a commercialised ambition evolved and resulted in him co-founding UAV and Drone Solutions (Pty) Ltd (UDS) in 2013. UDS became the first company in South Africa to be awarded an R-PAS operating certificate (ROC) with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), making them the first licensed drone operating business in the country. Today he co-directs UDS with his partners Otto and Robert.
OTTO WERDMULLER VON ELGG
Otto Werdmuller Von Elgg, together with long-time friends and business partners, Georges Sayegh & Robert Hannaford, is Co-Founder and Director of UAV & Drone Solutions (UDS). UDS is the culmination of his passion for animals and technology, where deploying remotely piloted aircraft systems in conservation has been the perfect merging of the two.
Having grown up in South Africa with a family farming background, he has been consistently magnetised to conservation. As a keen birder and avid mountain biker, he enjoys spending time in the bushveld.
Educated in Johannesburg with qualifications as a Chartered Accountant from Wits University, Otto has founded several business enterprises in technology. There is a recurring theme of emerging technology with the facsimile business in the ’80’s, cellular phone tech in the ’90’s, mobile apps in the early 2000’s and now drones. Through his love of wildlife, the mobile app venture created several successful international nature and wildlife apps.
With this experience in emerging technology and appreciation of the pressure of poaching on the conservation industry, the establishment of UDS has been a natural step for Otto. His vision for UDS is a profit-for-purpose enterprise, where drones can be utilized in a multitude of applications with significant efficiencies and advantages over traditional aviation tools, including quick and cost-effective deployment.
A native of South Africa, Robert Hannaford is a widely-respected expert in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology and co-founder of UAV & Drone Solutions (PTY) Ltd which specializes in unmanned airborne solutions and technologies. Initially flying tactical missions in support of anti-poaching efforts in multiple African countries, UAV & Drone Solutions flew more than 17,000 mission hours achieving an unprecedented level of success that led to security surveillance and tactical air support in controlled airspace. These methods have been adopted by many South African companies and government agencies with great results.
Hannaford previously founded a large cellular repair organization and then focused his attention on mobile application development resulting in his founding of MyDigitalEarth.com, which produced 30 international nature and wildlife applications. Additionally, he has a strong background in mechanical engineering and design having run the family’s plastic injection molding and tool and die making business in the early 90s. During his early career and studies, Hannaford became a telecommunications engineer and went on to study data communications at Wits Technikon in 1990, embedded microcontroller development in 1994 and Microsoft system engineering in 2000.
Hannaford is proficient in many programming languages and multiple IDEs, and his expertise in the ever-changing technology systems industry is represented by certifications from Microsoft, Adobe and a degree from Unmanned Vehicle University in Arizona. He also holds an RPL license with an instructors rating on fixed wing, multirotor and helicopter platforms and was the first pilot to conduct legal BVLOS RPAS flights in Southern Africa. Robert also holds an American Part 107 UAS Operator license. He is the mastermind behind the design, building and integration of the current aircraft platforms, which includes the use of composite technologies, custom electronics and custom 3-axis gimbal systems. Hannaford is still actively involved in UDS South Africa and recently relocated to Austin, Texas, to start a sister company, UDS System LLC.
Robert is widely respected as an expert in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology and has been called upon to present at ICAO, JARUS and Interdrone.
Quality Management Systems
Lizelle Jonker: Quality Manager (Quality Management Systems). Also heading up the administration department inclusive of human resources, stock, debtors/creditors etc. A committed member of the team since the inception of the company, rising to every challenge. The authority in the company on anything aviation compliance.
Charlene Rapoza: Quality Assurance Compliance Officer. Loves her dog, friends and family. The shift from Project Management to the Drone World has been very exciting and a big learning curve.
Lynn Kisten: Training Manager. Coordinating all training activities within UDS, ensuring UDS team members are equipped with the knowledge and skill to add value to and reach their full potential within the company.
Monique de Beer: Flight Dispatcher
Coenraad de Beer: Operations Manager (Responsible Person Flight Operations)
Brian van Niekerk: A reptile enthusiast with a lot of hobbies, including RC flying, wildlife photography, anything technology wise and even ice skating. Quick to learn and very competitive.
Chay Plaskitt: Background in IT with a passion for aviation especially UAV’s.
Christiaan van der Schyff
Danie Sauermann: Has been flying RC planes and helicopters for 5 years, has an undergraduate and honours degree in Sports Management as well as a SAMAA instructor rating for helicopters.
Eddy Petters: An aviator at heart, being a commercial and UAV pilot. Hard worker that always gives his best.
Fanie Jacobs: A has a police background where he mainly served in the Special Task Force as an operator. He then joined the private security industry where he was involved in high end VIP protection and tactical support and later focused on crime intelligence gathering and investigations. He always had a love for aviation and was a keen skydiver. He started flying drones in 2014 and just had to get involved in the industry when he realized the potential of using drones to combat and prevent crime especially in rural and farming environment.
Gert Malan: Has 23 years’ experience in flying, building and restoring remote control model aircrafts. With his love of flying and security background, working for UDS is his ultimate dream job.
Ian Bezuidenhout: PPL pilot working towards his CPL. Married, father to a cute little girl. Passionate christian that is mad about photo- and videography and everything nature.
Jan-George Kilian: A young and determined RPAS who has been flying for 12 years and besides his work flying for UDS, UAVs is his hobby. He has love and respect for nature and is happy to be part of this industry.
Jared Norman: An active member of the RC world since the age of 8. Determined to strive in the world of RPA flying and to improve with every step forward that he takes.
Neville Smith: Been involved in aviation since 1999 and has a great passion for the development and future for aviation in South Africa. Excited for what the future holds for the industry.
Paul Horn: His job is his passion as he is very interested in electronics as they come in handy at times. Enjoys music, speed in his spare time and is also a Ju-Jitsu Instructor.
Pieter Bester: Always had a passion for technology. Has been fiddling with all sorts of technological gadgets and electronics since childhood. Working in the aviation industry is a dream come true.
Ryan Collier: RPAS Pilot with extensive experience in piloting RPAS (UAV) aircraft’s. Known for his hard work and dedication to do the best of his ability, being a team player and for his love for the aviation industry and wildlife.
Sam van Zyl: Has been flying RC helicopters for the past 11 years and has 5 years of drone experience. Enjoys mountain bike rides when he is not piloting.
Sean Else: Involved in technology since a young age and electronics for the past 15 years. Loves flying RC helicopters and racing drones, and now UAVs. Enjoys riding motorbikes and is a proud dad of 2 kids and family man.
Shaun Glen: Relatively new to the UAV industry, learning as much as possible as quickly as possible. Having great attention to detail and is meticulous when carrying out his duties. From a complete novice the UAV industry has quickly become his passion.
Stephan de Necker: One of our senior and most experienced pilots, who has been with UDS since inception. Started and managed operations in Malawi, Zimbabwe, Kruger National Park and Hluhluwe Umfolozi for anti-poaching operations. Always keen and ready to tackle new adventures and challenges.
Wayne van Rooyen
Antoinette Dudley: Has been with UDS since 2014, right from the beginning. Left the Corporate World, sports car and Harley Davidson behind when joining UDS to ruff it in places like Malawi, Zimbabwe, Kruger National Park and Hluhluwe Umfolozi for anti-poaching operations, which is still her passion. Currently Project Managing operations in Northern Cape.
Charl Kleynhans: Fascinated by everything wildlife and aviation with a keen passion for the UAV industry.
Lindi Smith: Having a very deep love for nature and family. Coming from a creative background, working with drones and aviation opened up a whole new world with lots of exciting opportunities.
Rebecca Collier: A person with goals as she knows where she wants to go. From hospitality to the world of drones has been a big leap but she is loving every moment of it.
SAFETY & SECURITY
Manager: Safety & Security
Jaacie Visagie: A Commercial Helicopter Pilot with great experience in manned aviation. He developed a great passion for the UAV industry also piloting with a RPAS license. Also looking after special projects within UDS.
Dirk Grobler: Safety Officer.
RPL pilot, passionate about family, technology, gadgets, IT and anything audio/visual.
WORKSHOP & TECHNICAL
Responsible Person Aircraft & Technical Manager
Steven Byrne: Electronic engineering background and got involved in the drone industry five years ago as technical support to the pilots in the field.
Dianne van Rooyen: Heading up the technical team in the workshop, coordinating production of aircraft, servicing and repairs. Working closely with the “Responsible Person: Aircraft” on development and testing of new components and aircraft.
David Mbonane: Involved with repairs and sales of RC planes and helicopters for 15 years.
Justin Pretorius: Studied 3D Modelling and been involved with 3D design for the past five years.
Lesedi Sepoloane: Studied aircraft mechanics.
Pabalelo Mabelane: Studied aircraft maintenance and mechanical engineering.
ADMIN & FINANCE
Debbie Nimmo: There is never a boring time in her role in the company, but outside of it she enjoys reading, travelling, spending time with her family.
Vanessa Nimmo: Hard-working, conscientious, strives to meet goals. Enjoys arts, crafts, music, cooking and being a mother.