Colossus veteran flies drone over Block H

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Picture courtesy of MK NEWS/OneMK

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.

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.

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.”

A rough-cut of the drone video footage is now available on YouTube. A more polished edit will follow in due course along with an interactive panorama of Block H.

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 DJI 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

Notes To Editors

About the DJI 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

About The National Museum of Computing

The National Museum of Computing, located on Bletchley Park, is an independent charity housing the world's largest collection of functional historic computers, including the rebuilt Colossus, the world’s first electronic computer, and the WITCH, the world's oldest working digital computer. The Museum enables visitors to follow the development of computing from the ultra-secret pioneering efforts of the 1940s through the large systems and mainframes of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, and the rise of personal computing in the 1980s and beyond.

The Museum runs a highly successful Learning Programme for schools and colleges and promotes introductions to computer coding amongst young people, especially females, to inspire the next generation of computer scientists and engineers.

A pledge by an individual benefactor of £1 million if matched funding is found means that every pound or dollar donated to the Museum will count double. Funders of the Museum have included Bletchley Park Capital Partners, Bloomberg, CreateOnline, Ceravision, Ensoft,, Ocado Technology, FUZE, 4Links, Google UK, IBM, NPL, HP Labs, and BCS.

The whole Museum is currently open to the public from 12 noon on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, spring and summer Bank Holidays and during school holidays. The Colossus and Tunny galleries are open daily. Public and private Guided Tours are available and bookable online – see the website or the iPhone app for details. Educational and corporate group visits are available by prior arrangement.

For more information about TNMOC and trustees, see and follow @tnmoc on Twitter and The National Museum of Computing on Facebook and Google+. A TNMOC iPhone App is also now available from the iPhone App Store.

Media Contacts

Stephen Fleming, Palam Communications
01635 299116

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