Colossus’ home from the air

An operator of Colossus, the world’s first electronic computer, came to her wartime workplace to fly a drone in one of the many pop-up events of the Summer Bytes Festival at The National Museum of Computing on Bletchley Park this week.

Colossus, her operator and a drone
Image courtesy of Helen Armfield

Just a few days short of her ninetieth birthday, Joanna Chorley returned to Block H on Bletchley Park, to operate the drone quadcopter. Through the drone’s on-board camera, she and other Summer Bytes visitors had a superb aerial view of the home of Colossus and the rest of Bletchley Park.

Flying the drone
Image courtesy of Helen Armfield

Joanna Chorley, who operated Colossus to help break Hitler’s most secret Lorenz/Tunny messages during the war, said: “I haven’t had so much fun in years. I loved every single moment operating the drone and my mind was racing thinking of all the applications that the technology could be put to.

Ben Huss-Smickler, managing director of Sohus and a CAA qualified pilot, said: “Joanna showed terrific hand-eye co-ordination and was very adept in controlling the drone. Our co-piloting was hardly necessary! It was a real honour to meet Joanna and truly inspirational to fly the drone at the home of Colossus at The National Museum of Computing.”

Flying at up to its legal speed limit of 50mph, and at a height of about 50 to 100 metres, the DGI Inspire drone flew over Block H relaying HD views of Bletchley Park and its surrounds via a large screen monitor to Summer Bytes visitors on the ground.

Afterwards, visitors could also see how much commercial aviation has changed in the recently opened NATS Air Traffic Control Gallery in the museum.

Summer Bytes, supported by Bloomberg, continues with lots more pop-up events until 30 August. On Saturday 22 August, there will be a special visit by K9 of Doctor Who, the Orac computer from Blake’s 7 and more, courtesy of special effects maestro, Mat Irvine. For more information, see

About the DGI Inspire quadcopter drone

  • 3kg in weight incl battery pack
  • 18 minutes battery flying time
  • 4 propellers
  • operating temperature range: -10C to +40C
  • 4k on-board gyro-stabilised camera providing live feed HD feed for broadcast on monitor and headset. Can rotate 360 degrees
  • stabilises using a visual positioning system, sonor, accelerometer and magnometer.

About Sohus

Sohus offers innovative Drone services for business using its own open-source programmable drones or third-party drones. They provide a range of services including photography, filming, mapping and inspection. Current projects include 3D mapping for use in Virtual Reality, Games, 3D Printing as well as 360 Video. See for more infomation