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Where can I hire a licensed drone pilot?

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

Dear Drone Girl,

I was wondering if you knew of any resources in terms of finding licensed UAV pilots? I am looking to hire many throughout Orange County and wanted to start collecting resources.


Yes, there are! It really depends on the scope of what you are looking for and trying to hire.

Washington D.C.-based startup Measure flies drones as a service for other businesses that need drones to conduct operations such as inspections, mapping, or shooting videos. The company recently raised $15 million in a Series B funding round. (Measure’s pilots flew more than 1,100 flights throughout 2016 — that’s about three flights a day.)

Then, there are interesting companies like Skytango, which is a sort of “Uber for Drones.” The company was originally founded by 9-time Emmy Award-winning production team Steven Flynn and Susan Talbot, who lived in the U.S. but now live in Ireland. In 2014, they built an aerial stock library to service clients that needed a single aerial clip. The company has since grown into a larger drone pilot market place for booking specific aerial photography and videography jobs with pilots worldwide.

Other similar sites include Air-VidDroners.io, and DroneBase. I really can’t say the differences between these or recommend one vs. the other simply because I haven’t used them. (But, if you have, leave that in the comments below!)

Of course, if you do hire a drone pilot, there are some things you should know. Ask to see their Part 107 license. Ask about what gear they have and whether that will accomplish what you need with a drone. If it’s a mapping project, are they competent with something like Drone Deploy or Pix 4D? Do they need to have a thermal camera to do your project? Consider whether or not your pilot has or needs insurance.

Also know how much their services are worth. If you just need a simple shot of a house for a real estate photo, a DJI Phantom is probably good enough. Don’t let someone tell you that you need to pay a huge fee to cover the cost of their $10,000 drone. On the other hand, if you need a 360 VR video from a drone and the person says that have a Parrot Bebop, you probably want to find a new drone pilot to do the job.

Where you can and can’t fly in Orange County. Screenshot/AirMap

Then, make sure you are able to fly in that area. A huge chunk of Orange County is in Class B and C airspace, according to AirMap, which means you’ll have to get permission to fly there.

My final piece of advice is to look for local meetup groups. You may end up finding the smartest, most qualified pilots that way. In fact, when I lived in Orange County I was a member of the LA/OC Drone User Group, but more groups have sprung up in the area since then. Message them and see if they have any pilots looking for work.

Hope that helps! Happy flying!

 

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