Category Archives: Q&A

Drone job postings and verifiable flight hours: how can I log my drone flights?

I am considering “the drone life” and am interested in pursuing it as a career in some fashion. I see many companies hiring but one of the requirements say “500 hours of verifiable PIC time”.

Do you know what is considered “verifiable”? Is my chicken scratch that is written in a log book considered “verifiable” when there is no one with me to officially sign off my flights, as they do in private pilot courses of manned aircraft? The word “verifiable” gives me some concern. 

Welcome to the drone world! The drone industry is an exciting one, as there are jobs for people in all sorts of backgrounds, and not just flying drones. The drone industry needs engineers, storytellers, policy makers, lawyers, businesspeople and more. But it sounds like you want to actually fly for a living, so we’ll talk about that! Continue reading Drone job postings and verifiable flight hours: how can I log my drone flights?

Ask Drone Girl: how do I build a recreational drone park?

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about building a recreational drone park. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

Some partners and I are looking to build a recreational drone flying park in the state of Delaware. Are there any specifications for something like this? Any architects in this area? Thanks in advance for your help.

This sounds like fun! Recreational drone parks are a fairly new development. Unlike sports that have specifications as to the size of the field or court, or requirements as to the height of something like a basket, drones are the wild west and there really are no standards as to what a drone park should look like. Continue reading Ask Drone Girl: how do I build a recreational drone park?

Ask Drone Girl: I think my ex is stalking me via drone

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about drone stalking, and identifying the drone pilot. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

Dear Drone Girl, I believe my ex is stalking me via drone. I have multiple pictures from my security cameras. How can I check to see if he is registered for flying UAS or has registered to fly UAS?

Yikes, that is scary! Drone stalking is interesting. They are loud and large so they are actually pretty noticeable. Clearly you noticed them. The tricky thing though is it can be difficult to identify the pilot. Is it just a neighbor kid flying their gadget? Or in your case, is it an ex stalking you?

The Federal Aviation Administration once had a rule that all drone pilots had to register, but that was struck down in May. There is now no law requiring drone pilots to register. And even if they were required to, the database only publicly shows zip code and city of the registered pilots.  The FAA does not post the names and street addresses of registered owners because the data is exempt from disclosure under a FOIA exemption that protects information in agency files from a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. Continue reading Ask Drone Girl: I think my ex is stalking me via drone

FPV for kids: how young is too young to fly FPV, and is FPV bad for your eyes?

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about FPV for kids. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

How young can kids fly FPV? Is it bad for the eyes? I’m interested in my son, who is 10 years old, getting into flying FPV.

-Ryan

Hey Ryan,

Of course kids can fly  FPV! In fact, some of the best FPV pilots in the world are kids!

I reached to some friends who are competitive FPV champions, as well as some friends who are drone pilots and parents, to help answer your question in detail.

For starters, as FPV pilot Jessika ‘Dronehart’ points out, Ashton Gamble, who goes by the pilot name “Drobot Racer” is 11 years old, and British teen Luke Bannister was just 13 when he won the $250,000 grand prize at the inaugural World Drone Prix in Dubai.

Lorie Grabham, president of the Saguaro chapter of AUVSI, got her daughter into flying at age 10, while Amelia Droneharts founder Rhianna Lakin said her kids have been flying with her since age 5.

“FPV doesn’t have an age limit,” she said. “I think the biggest issue is they probably need mentoring.”

Razan Alzayani/Bloomberg

As far as your question about the impact on eyesight — that’s a valid concern. I reached out to Hexinair creator and champion drone racer Zoe Stumbaugh, who calls herself an ‘HMD (that’s head-mounted display) nerd’ and has taught pilots as young as 9 years old.

She said that the amount of exposure is key. Since drone racers are relatively short — under 5 minutes, that small amount of exposure doesn’t have a significant impact.

Here was Stumbaugh’s response:

“It’s pretty much all about interpupillary distance and strain using goggles. Kids aren’t fully grown and tend to have a smaller IPD that falls out of the normal range of most goggles. 63-69mm is industry standard for the most part,” she said.

“In theory long exposure to use of micro-display goggles with improper IPD could cause problems, like hours of exposure at a time over a prolonged period of time of months/years. Funny enough, using a proper IPD goggle over time could alleviate any vision issues created from improper IPD, and may be a way of treating lazy eye and a few other eye disorders.”

You may want to look into a single screen and a Fresnel lens, allowing both eyes no matter their distance to focus on a single screen. Stumbaugh recommends checking out the VR007‘s or the nicer FatShark Transformers, which have options for binocular view and monocular viewers. Bonus points: they’re cheaper than other FPV goggles!

Looking to get into drone racing? Here’s a great starter kit.

Happy flying!

 

How to change DJI drone transmission settings to increase FPV resolution

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about how to increase FPV resolution. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

I’m trying to find a drone/camera combination that will allow me to image animal footprints on the ground from 20m altitude. To do this, I first need to be able to see the footprint trails from the air. I’ve tested some 12Mpix cameras on a DJI Phantom 3 Advanced and a Mavic and they just about pick out a trail on the FPV via my iPad. I know that increasing to a model with a 20Mpix camera will improve the resolution of still images, but will it improve my ability to see the trails on the FPV?

-Zoe

Hey Zoe,

I reached out to my buddy and drone mapping professional Jon Ellinger, the creator of TLT Photography, to help me answer this one.

He says your best bet for bang for the buck would be the Phantom 4 Pro with it’s 1″ 20mp sensor, which you noted.  The bad news is, there is no reliable way to increase the resolution of the FPV beyond a few settings which you can try in the DJI Go App.
The app will enable you to increase the transmission quality; bump it up to 5.8ghz frequency which will help stream more data smoothly. However, you won’t be able to fly long distances at that frequency.
This video offers a deeper dive into those settings:

Continue reading How to change DJI drone transmission settings to increase FPV resolution

Is it illegal for a newspaper to publish drone photos without a Part 107 license?

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about whether it is legal to publish drone photos. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

I have a question. My husband and I have devoted time and considerable cash to starting a legal, licensed drone photography business. Our local newspaper is publishing drone photography done by another unlicensed hobby pilot. Is this not illegal?

This is an interesting question, and one we might not have the answer to unless we get more information. First off, I want to say this is not legal advice and you should always ask a lawyer, but I’ll offer my opinion.

The key question is — did money exchange hands? If yes — meaning the local newspaper paid the photographer for the aerial images that they published — then what happened here was in fact illegal.

But if no money exchange hands, then there’s nothing illegal here, as long as they follow in accordance with recreational hobby drone rules such as staying outside of the 5-mile radius of an airport and remaining within visual line of sight. Continue reading Is it illegal for a newspaper to publish drone photos without a Part 107 license?

Drone racing: should I get into it?

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about drone racing and getting that Star Wars speeder bike look in your videos. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

So, here’s what I picture: me, sitting in the forest, first person goggles on, flying my drone through the trees like a speeder in Return of the Jedi. Should I go the racing drone route? High quality recorded video isn’t important to me, and I’m confident that I could build it, that’s why I was thinking racing, but there’s just too many options!

Thanks, Matt

Matt, this is the most beautiful reader email I’ve ever gotten!! You have a vision and I like it!

Definitely it sounds like you want some racing footage, and the more Star Wars-inspired, the better. But first of all, I hope you’ve seen this video. It is one of my favorites, and it should get you pretty hyped!

Continue reading Drone racing: should I get into it?

Ask Drone Girl: how do I legally travel internationally with my drone?

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about how to travel internationally with a drone. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

I have a DJI Mavic Pro and love it, and I’m travelling to 8 countries in Central Asia and wanted to bring it. I have to ship it through Uzbekistan because they aren’t legal, and need to register it in Dubai and Turkey. If I am transporting the drone and not flying, do you think I’d get in trouble for having one?

Also, I might just bring a Spark because it’s still pretty good and under the 250g weight limit most of the countries have for hobby drones (without a battery) meaning I don’t need to register.

I’m already jealous of your vacation plans. Throw a Mavic in there, and your vacation photos are going to be incredible!

Travelling internationally with a drone can be really tricky. I’ve heard everything from drones being confiscated, to travelers being asked to leave their drone at customs and being told they could pick it up at the end of their trip.
Just ask filmmaker Chafic Saad, who arrived at the customs department in Bali, which would not let them bring a drone through despite what they though was the proper paperwork.
“They thought I was going to sell it,” he said. “I had to put down a deposit of $2,000 US dollars and it would not have been returned if I didn’t bring the money back. That was scary.”
UAV Coach has a really excellent master list of drone laws by country. There you can find out if you need to register, if you need a license, and if you can even bring that drone into the country. Though, sometimes it seems laws change on an almost-daily basis, so I would also check with each country’s aviation regulatory agency’s website as well.

Continue reading Ask Drone Girl: how do I legally travel internationally with my drone?