Boys toys or Something more Useful?

I have always had an interest in flying having previously held a PPL so drones were always of interest. However would I be investing in a drone for personal use or for work? The answer to the above is that they are both a boys toy and something rather useful, and yes I am going to be using it for work.

Being an impatient sole having made the decision in late July to delve into the world of drones I have been trained, passed all the tests, bought a drone (and learnt to fly it!) and am awaiting my CAA licence. Not bad in 6 weeks.

The catalyst for getting a drone was brewing for some time. Colleagues Adrian Charters and Adrian Wilkinson at Quarry Design were well ahead of the game and have been flying drones for 2 years. Their work is very impressive. I had seen many excellent aerial images and thought that there was an opportunity to use drones in conjunction with property management and geographical information systems. I decided that I would concentrate on aerial imagery and not into the more technical, and costly, world of aerial surveying.

Rolling back to July after many hours of internet searching and a number of phone calls the key things I discovered were;

  • You need a CAA Licence to fly for commercial purposes
  • You need some good training
  • Drones go from £1,000 to £25,000
  • It is a fast growing sector

First things first training. I tried a few companies and there aren't many to choose from. I decided to go with RUSTA (http://www.uastraining.com) who have been excellent and all thanks to Sion, Dan and George. They offer an excellent training package and for a single fee. The course is in three parts, Ground School, Operations Manual preparation and flight test. Ground School is straight forward, back to the class room for three days. The Operations Manual is the most challenging element. This manual provides the detail of how you are going to operate and fly your drone legally, responsibly and safely. However it is a logical process in writing it and again with guidance from RUSTA it all fell into place quickly.

In between Ground School and writing the manual I had the tricky decision of which drone to buy. Again after much research I decided to purchase a DJI Inspire 1, they have excellent reviews and a well respected manufacturer. However having decided to invest about £2,500 you would want to try one before committing. That proved a challenge until I found the Phantom Flight School run by Alan Proto (https://phantomflightschool.co.uk) who lets you fly before you buy. I flew both the Phantom 3 and the Inspire, 20 minutes later the decision was made. I have to say it is a nerve racking time flying your drone for the first time on your own. Is it going to work, am I going to crash it, luckily yes it does work and no I haven't crashed it!

Over the past 4 weeks I have been flying as much as possible, nothing better than hours logged. This all culmintaed in my flight test which I took on Monday. unfortunately it wasn't the best of days, overcast with rain and drizzle. After a long wait we had a gap in the weather and success, all completed with a commendation for my flying skills. 

So I have got there in a little over 6 weeks. My paper work and licence application have all been sent to the CAA. It has been a great experience so far, nothing like learning a new skill and something you are excited by. I have taken endless pictures of my house and other property and the potential for use in the property world is huge. 

I am looking forward to employing this new arm of Everything is Somewhere.

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