Should you purchase and operate your own UAV or find a local company to provide you with the shots you need? The answer depends on your needs and the time you have to put into learning how to pilot the UAV.
Craig Levine, of Georgia Drone Services, an Atlanta based company, provides UAV services to residential and commercial builders and a variety of other industries as well. Levine, who is also a licensed realtor, began operating a UAV as a recreational activity but began taking shots of the properties he was selling to enhance the listings and was soon being asked to do the same for fellow realtors.
Levine pursued his Part 107 Remote Airman Certification (see sidebar) which allows him to operate a UAV under 55 pounds for commercial purposes. Levine states that it wasn’t difficult to learn to control his UAV as “they practically fly themselves,” but it does take practice to become proficient and produce good quality shots. It’s easy to “start up the drone, elevate it, turn it, move it forward and backwards” states Levine. “You can take your hand off of the controls and it will stay in one place if it has a GPS lock on the satellites. The key is knowing how to properly compose the shot, utilizing proper framing, correct exposure and balancing and knowing the right frame rate to use for video.” In other words, if you are wanting to use drone photography for marketing your custom homes, like the cover shot by Levine, you will need a high-quality camera and a lot of practice using the equipment, or you can outsource those assignments to a professional service.
If you opt to purchase your own UAV, Levine suggests taking a course designed for the Part 107 Remote Airman Certification. These courses might be offered at a local college or online. Levine chose to take an online course to learn the numerous facets that are involved in proper drone piloting including aerodynamics, aeronautical decision making, risk management, the national airspace system, sectional charts, airport operations, weather theory, weather charts, emergency procedures, and (of course) the Federal Aviation Regulations covered in Part 107. Levine recommends an online course as it was self-paced, and he learned so much valuable information from it.
Photo Courtesy of Georgia Drone Services