4 Tips for New Drone Pilots

Tip 1: Be a specialist

In order to win customer jobs, drone pilots need to be able to show that they have relevant experience in drone photography and special skill in one or two specialist areas. A good approach for this is to leverage any experience you may already have that has some relevance with drone applications. For example a camera man, surveyor, building inspector, civil engineer, builder or architect, photographer, or crop farmer / agronomist.

7 examples of drone work specialisation

1. Film production
Hollywood movie scenes shot with drones - Skyfall, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Expendables 3, Chappie, Jurassic World, and Captain America: Civil War. if you are a creative person, and have a passion for film, consider becoming a specialist aerial cinematographer. Creative skill is something that will always be in demand, and cannot be replaced by technology. Get a DJI Inspire 1 Raw, meet with some Directors of Photography, watch YouTube videos on how to get cinematic shots.

2. Survey
Measure volumes, distances, areas and loads of other data from a development site, national park, quarry, mine site or waterway. Drones can collect aerial topograpghic data that can be processed to create all kinds of maps and models. This can be done usually at lower cost than using a plane or helicopter and at higher resolution than satellites.

3.Inspecting roofs, bridges etc.
Drone photography is being increasingly used to inspect assets such as buildings and roofs, communications towers, and bridges. There are thousands of these assets across the country and they often require a maintenance inspection at least once a year. In many cases, drones offer a better way by replacing things like EWPs. Consider getting a drone such as a Phantom 4 or Matrice and start working with a maintenance company to gain experience in this area.

4.Construction sites
Drones can be used to get fortnightly site fly-over videos and aerial photography for evidential progress reporting. They are also used to measure how many cubic meters of gravel is in a stockpile, or to fly around a structure and construct a 3D model of it using photogrammetry. The model can then be used to compare the accuracy shown in the 3D model with the plan so mistakes can be spotted early.

5.photographers
If you are already a photographer, getting a drone and adding aerial photography and videography to your list of services should be a natural progression for your business. After all, a camera drone is simply a tool that enables a photographer to get their camera into the best position for the shot at hand.

6.Search and rescue
Drones with thermal cameras can be used to locate lost hikers in a national park. Drone photography can also assist firefighters in inspecting the stability of fire effected roof structures.

7.Agriculture
Farmers around the world are waking up to the power of using data as evidence to make important decisions from. This is generally referred to as the rise of ‘precision agriculture’. Drones have the potential to play a big part in this space because they are essentially a fast moving air-borne data capture device. Anyone with crop farming experience or knowledge of agronomy will have an immediate advantage in moving into this space.

Tip 2: Be customer centric

Many businesses are just starting to integrate drones into their operations and workflows. There is lots of learning to be done on both sides – for the customer and the drone pilot. For this reason, it is important to approach a customer with their goal as your priority.

Remember, a bride doesn’t want a drone, she wants beautiful and unique imagery of the most important day of her life, captured in a safe and quiet way. A construction site engineer doesn’t care about drones, if anything she sees them as just adding more complexity and risk to the site. She wants a 3D model of a building that is accurate and on time.

After deciding on a speciality area (see tip 1 above), work closely with your customers in a consultative way to ensure that whatever you do is relevant and value adding for the customer.

Tip 3: get insurance

Drones have the capacity to injure people and damage property. We very strongly recommend having a current public liability insurance policy that specifically covers the operation of a drone (RPA).

Drone flying can be dangerous - 3 examples of incidents:

Drone operator fined after UAV crashed into triathlete
Drone crashing into car on Sydney Harbour Bridge
Cyclist is thrown over the front of his handlebars

Tip. 4 check out these resources

Can I fly there? Download the official app that shows where you’re not allowed to fly (near your current position). It’s called “Can I fly there?” Download it here (Google Play and App store)

Flite test are a good bunch of guys who create informative and entertaining drone review videos

Rotor Riot is a YouTube channel covering the entertaining adventures of some very skilled drone pilots

The UAV Digest is a leading pod cast show that covers drone industry news from America. Listen to it via a free pod cast streaming app called Stitcher. Download Stitcher (Android or iOS)

Getting into survey and mapping? Drone Deploy is the most widely used app for capturing imagery, processing maps & 3D models - 2 min video

Buying a drone? Australia based retailers are good for your main machine because if something goes wrong they are here to help with either warranty issues or non-warranty repairs.

The big 4:

https://www.camzilla.com.au/
https://www.riseabove.com.au/
https://spheredrones.com.au/
https://www.modelflight.com.au/

Non-Australian online stores have very good prices, however, do not typically offer support. Some can be found on this site which searches for the best prices online http://getadrone.com.au/

Other more generalist overseas online electronics stores are good for smaller drones/gifts and cheap parts. Have a look:

https://www.banggood.com
https://hobbyking.com/