Flying a drone is remarkably easy. You’ve got two thumb sticks, one camera and a handy little monitor to see where you’re going.
Flying a drone safely is not so easy. You have to be aware of your aircraft limitations, meteorology, NOTAMS, failsafe procedures and general air law. These are the things that separate the professional drone pilot from the kid who just got a drone for his birthday.
I was the kid who got a drone for his birthday…and now I’m a professional, fully certified drone pilot, having completed my PFcO course. This is the course which trains you to fly commercially, gaining clearance to do so from the Civil Aviation Authority.
So as I sit here writing this now, as a fully certified drone pilot, what is it that I’ve learned? What is it that I know now that I didn’t know as a newbie to the world of drone flight? The answer is everything.
Drone’s have had a pretty bad wrap in the press. Anyone can get their hands on one, not understand the power they have, and ground every commercial airline at Heathrow airport. That’s why the PFcO Course is so important.
As someone who now flies their drone commercially, the main take-away for me is safety and having the correct insurance.
When you’re flying a big heavy drone at 400 ft, there is no room for error. If that thing comes out of the air, it will cause serious harm. And the buck stops with you, the pilot. Privacy is key too, as I can’t forget, I’m not only flying but operating a camera.
The main way to stop any accidents taking place is to do lengthy risk assessments, something you never think of as an amateur. I’ve got a great template to fill out and use to assess situations.
It’s not who can go higher, faster or even get better shots. It’s about who can safely conduct themselves while getting the job done. And I’m proud to say that I’m able to do that.
So when you next work with us on a film, remember – the sky’s the limit…(as long as it’s done safely, within the law, with the correct insurance and staying under the 400ft ceiling).