Drones

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I was fascinated by flight at an early age. At 6 paper I learned how to fold air planes. At 7 the balsa wood flyers with rubber band propulsion were better, I broke many rubber bands trying to get it to fly farther. Like the Wright brothers I learned what goes up must come down.

Inspired by my brother, a ret USAF pilot, I kept up with current events. The SR-71 Blackbird quickly became my favorite plane. My friends built plastic car models. I built plastic plane models, my favorite was the P-38 Lightning.

I played with toy helicopters in the early 2010s. I flew one in a public school gymnasium to the delight of 20 people. In 2014 small drones appeared in public events and media advertising. I noticed.

I got my 1st drone in late 2016. As recommended I started out small. In a year I bought 8 small drones. Many disappeared or lost power. One is 100 feet off of my seawall. I lost it, reestablished contact with the camera and slowly watched it sink till it went blank. I felt confident in my ability and it was time to buy a big boy drone.

I purchased a DJI Phantom 3 in late 2017. The plan was to use it for roof inspections. Learned some good things. I crashed it while filming which produced a hilarious video. Bought a 2nd Phantom 3, crashed that too. My problem was lack of situational control, which means “you don’t know how to fly it, dummy”.

July 2019 I bought a DJI Mavic 2 Pro. Why? It has obstacle avoidance technology, see problem above. I watched videos, and practiced. I took photos and videos. I learned about the built in autonomous features. I got my FAA Part 107 certificate for remote pilot-in-charge to fly commercially. The FAA is strict about record keeping and I use online flight management software. I keep flight, maintenance and event logs.

A person owns the ground their property is on. The FAA owns everything above that surface to 60,000 feet above ground level (AGL). State and local governments tried to limit drone usage, each time the FAA has prevailed. Some jurisdictions have tried the can’t-take-off-can’t-land on our jurisdiction. Drone operators counter this by releasing their drones by hand.

Now, I use them for roof inspections and determining the condition of the chimney caps. Even walking the roof one cannot see the top of the chimney. There is preparation and there are FAA pylons to hop over. Within 5 miles of a large airport I must get FAA clearance to fly. I cannot fly over people, at night, or beyond visual line of sight, without a FAA waiver. I really like my eyes in the sky. It lowers my risk by keeping me off the roof. It is a wow factor with most customers and it adds value to the inspection report.

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