Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about drone classes for structural inspections. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.
Hey Drone Girl,
I live in Sacramento, California and I am looking for some drone training for inspections of structures. Do you know where I might find this type of training? I am willing to travel to other states where good training is offered.
This is a great question! I’m so glad you are looking to get additional training. Many people who fly drones for commercial purposes simply get their Part 107 certification and then don’t pursue other learning opportunities, despite using drones for highly technically advanced use cases.
The first thing that comes to my mind is that when you are inspecting structures, you’re probably going to incorporate thermal imaging into your flights.
From a purely theoretical point of view, I would recommend taking Brendan Stewart’s Aerial Thermography drone course. It’s an online course happening later this spring, so it’s good option for people looking ahead who want to learn from the comfort of their own couch. Sign up here. (By the way, UAV Coach offers tons of awesome great drone training courses. I used their Part 107 course and passed!)
That being said, I reached out to Brendan to give some additional background.
“Our aerial thermography course is really designed to provide the background knowledge on how thermography works, how to make sense of the infrared picture you’re seeing, and understand the process required to turn that “raw data” into usable information and added value for your client,” Steward said. “The course is designed for total beginners to thermography, who might be flying some less specialized use cases like light aerial photography and cinematography. We spend about the 1st 30% of the course on theory, understanding how to match equipment to the operation, interpret the data you receive back, and also how to deal with some of the optical illusions created by trying to navigate based on thermal imagery streamed back to your flight controls.”
As far as hands-on inspecting structures courses, it will be tougher to find a course that fits the bill. But there is good news!
“Inspecting a building envelope for instance, takes a specialized set of skills on insulation types and construction methods. Inspecting roofs requires yet a different set of specialty skills, knowledge about roofing materials (some like Modified Bitumen don’t even work with thermography!) construction techniques, moisture propagation and more,” Stewart added.
Infrared Training Center also has an in-person UAS thermography course in a few different locations around the country for about $2,000.
Your question also highlights why the drone world needs people from a diverse set of backgrounds. While we need extremely talented engineers to build the drones and pilots to control the drones, the drone industry has room for people who have backgrounds in a variety of industries — agriculture, construction, environmental science and more.
Personally, I would recommend enrolling in a trade school for inspecting structures. While it won’t be drone-specific, you’ll get the best information you need on how to fly drones. Couple that with an excellent background in piloting drones, and you have a winning business model.