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Adding Drones to Your Cinematography Repertoire: An Interview with Mike Mazur, Owner of Diario Films

Mike Mazur is a Drone Pilot Ground School alum with a huge range of experience in cinematography.

He started out working in Manhattan in post-production. From there he learned about shooting and directing, and built up his skill set to the point where he is now, as the owner of his own production company, Diario Films. Mike has worked with artists like Kesha and Steely Dan, and he’s also flown missions for non-profits in Guatemala and elsewhere around the world.

We wanted to sit down and talk to Mike both about how he built up his production business, and also about his decision to add drones to his list of tools as a cinematographer.

YouTube Video

A music video on which Mike was both Aerial Cinematographer and Camera Operator


Begin interview

Tell us about your background. How did you first get into work as a photographer and cinematographer?

My career started out very differently from many drone pilots I’ve met and heard about.

I first started work in photography and videography in post production, as an editor and and after-effects artist. For a significant part of my career I was managing a green screen studio in lower Manhattan, and only did post production work.

But after a while that work became tiresome, and I realized that I didn’t really want to spend the rest of my life in a dark room, looking at other people’s adventures.

So I eventually got a job as a producer, because I had been producing some of the shoots that we had done in lower Manhattan (including one with our current president, which was a funny experience).

The agency I was working for, which was called Cross Borders, eventually merged into another agency called Rain, and that was a creative agency where I handled projects in which we were creating digital content for corporations to use in one form or another. We worked with companies like Walmart, Subway, and Hess.

Although I wasn’t very enthusiastic about a lot of the more corporate work, we got to make a short documentary series about sports in America to be used in tandem with the 2012 Olympics, and I really loved that work. The goal of the series was to showcase how American society looks at sports—we did an episode on the Special Olympics, one on Jackie Robinson, things like that.

While at Rain, in addition to working in production I started picking up a camera. The first thing I really learned how to shoot well was a time lapse—I’d always be shooting time lapse photography while these bigger projects were going on. But we’d always hire a cinematographer and a director of photography to come and shoot the project for me.

And then, when I was 29, I had a sort of serendipitous occasion on a trip to Guatemala, back in January of 2013. I ended up getting a fellowship with a non-profit there, and staying for the entire year of 2013 doing work in both Central America and Southeast Asia.

To do this work, I would literally go from country to country, from town to town, with a big backpack that had a camera, a tripod, and a laptop. So I was finding stories, shooting them, directing them, editing them—I was delivering them, all by myself. And that was one of the coolest experiences of my life.

When I came back from that year I had so much experience to draw from for my work in cinematography.

I wanted to finish a documentary I’d started about a famous figure in Puerto Rico, so I teamed up with my friend Fernando, who is a brilliant cinematographer, and we raised a few thousand dollars through an Indiegogo campaign, and we spent two weeks on the island and were able to finish the project.

Around the same time, I met a producer named Matty Parker, who had just secured the life rights for the story of a man who was the first African American to play in the NBA, who is named Earl Lloyd. The NBA film premiered a little while back at the Hamptons International Film Festival, and we’ve secured international distribution, so we’re really excited about that.

So that’s the story of how I went from work in post-production to getting behind the camera.

What made you start using drones in your work?

It’s kind of a funny story.

At the same time DJI released the Osmo, which allows you to get incredibly smooth shots, and the X5 Handle—but the two didn’t actually work together.

They said it would, but in reality, it just didn’t. (The following spring, after releasing these two products, they released a little piece that allowed you to connect one to the other.)

The X5 handle was pretty expensive—it cost more than $2,000—but I couldn’t use it since it didn’t connect to the Osmo, so for a while I just had this really expensive paper weight sitting in my office.

At the same time, I’d been wanting to expand my repertoire and my business, and so I just compulsively bought a DJI Inspire 1 and started flying.

Check out this reel of Mike’s drone footage

How did you first start using drones as a commercial pilot?

The first time I flew a drone on a shoot was for a job in Guatemala, for a non-profit called the Friendship Brigade, which does loans to women in rural areas to help them start businesses. (This was on a return trip, not during my first period there where I was given the job to travel around the world.)

After that first experience, I realized that I really loved shooting with a drone, and I realized how much it improved the quality of the work that I did there.

The piece I made for the non-profit was a profile of a woman named Gilanda. She used the loans to really improve her life, and she helped all these other women in the community improve their lives.

Being able to follow her from the sky, and to shoot her house, was huge, since part of what she did with the money she borrowed was expand her home. And even at the end of the video I was able to get a great shot with my Inspire I that really helped close things out.

diario-films-guatemala
A picture of Mike in Guatemala with his drone

Have you ever crashed during a shoot?

Who hasn’t?

No, but seriously, I definitely have had to deal with a crash, and it was heart breaking.

I was in Puerto Rico working on that documentary I talked about earlier, and still fairly new to flying. I was flying near a lake, and decided to pull back a bit without turning the camera around and looking at what was behind the drone—I just impulsively went backwards, and I got the drone stuck in a tree, about a hundred feet in the air.

Before I knew it a local man was chopping down the tree to get the drone back, and he’d cut it down within less than ten minutes with his machete. And I watched in agony as the tree turned in the air, at the last minute, and completely crushed the drone.

It was definitely a learning experience. Since then I’ve been through the Drone Pilot Ground School course, and I know a lot more about how to check yourself and be careful when you’re flying, to prevent those types of scenarios from arising in the first place.

When did you start flying commercially in the U.S.?

I shot abroad quite a bit, in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, India, France, both with a drone and with other equipment

And finally, when I was back in the U.S. and ready to work I decided I wanted to pursue Part 107 certification and became a professional drone pilot here.

I made the decision for a few reasons: I wanted to know the material, I wanted to get better at flying—and I figured the certification process would push me to do that, too—and I also wanted to separate myself from other cinematographers, who either weren’t flying drones at all, or who were flying drones illegally.

This was in late 2016, shortly after the Part 107 rules had come out, and I knew a few cinematographers who would just use a drone in shoots without knowing the rules at all. They’d show me their drone footage, and some of it would just be so illegal.

Mike-Mazur-Diario-Films-drone-photo
A drone picture Mike took on one of his many trips

Have you ever had to turn down work because it would violate the Part 107 rules?

There have been multiple times where I’ve had to turn down jobs because I didn’t have the night time waiver, which I applied for and wasn’t able to get.

I’ve also had to turn down work in New York City on a few different occasions. Even though many locations in New York look like they’re OK for flying when you’re in the AirMap app, you then learn that the reality is way more confusing. And, of course, NYC claims to have a city-wide ban on drone flights, but even that doesn’t actually seem legal, it’s just something that the city has put on their website to discourage people from figuring out where they actually can and can’t fly.

Basically, it’s so confusing that I’ve decided not to do it, since I don’t want to risk breaking the law.

How do you typically find clients?

Word of mouth is key.

Every job I get is essentially stems from an existing group of contacts that I’ve built gradually over the years, and we all support each other and give each other work. Almost everything I do is an extension of some kind of work, some kind of contact that I’ve made in the past through previous networking. Your experience just snowballs.

If a contact I have sends me any kind of opportunity, I’ll immediately stop what I’m doing and apply to it. And often, because it comes along with my contact’s recommendation, I’ll get the job.

Of course, your work has to be solid enough to get your foot in the door, and you also have to be able to deliver when you show up to do the job.

One thing I did that helped me get work, and really distinguish myself, was that when I upgraded my cinematography services and started adding drone services as well, I made sure to send out emails to my contacts and let them know, and share my aerial reel.

And actually, creating that reel was one of the most important things I did to get those new clients who were interested in aerial shots. After my first drone shoots in Guatemala, I did some aerial shoots in New York and New Jersey, just flying around my family’s home, and put a reel together to show off my new skill set.

The key is to just keep chipping away—adding on footage to your reel, making it better and more diverse as you get more jobs, and also to keep adding on skill sets.

If you make it your goal to keep growing and keep getting better at what you do, you will find work—it may not always be easy, but it will come.

The post Adding Drones to Your Cinematography Repertoire: An Interview with Mike Mazur, Owner of Diario Films appeared first on UAV Coach.

Gauging the Drone Industry’s Worth: $187 Million Raised in the last Six Months

Over the last few years we’ve heard a lot of talk about how much the drone industry is growing. A recent report from Skyward found that 10% of respondents at the companies surveyed were using drones, with that number expected to double in the near future, adding more drone jobs to the market.

There’s also an often-cited Goldman Sach’s report on the drone industry, which projects a $100 billion market opportunity for drones (this projection includes both commercial and civil government sectors of the drone industry).

drone-fundraising-2018
Image source

But wrapping your head around whether the drone industry is in fact growing as predicted—really finding those concrete indicators of this growth, instead of just reading about huge, vague projections—well, that isn’t always such an easy thing to do.

However, when you review the last six months (January 2018—June 2018), you can see that the drone industry really is thriving.

One of the biggest indicators of an industry’s growth is whether people are actually willing to risk money taking bets on it. And when you look back on the successful fundraising rounds drone companies have had over the last six months, you can really see how much the industry is growing.

Let’s take a look at who those companies raising money are, and what they plan to do with the funds raised.

drone-industry-funds-raised
A graph showing the amount each company covered in this article raised in the last 6 months

PrecisionHawk—$75 Million

Back in January, PrecisionHawk announced that they had raised a whopping $75 million, and then in June the news came out that, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, they’d added an additional $195,503 in equity.

PrecisionHawk plans to use the money they’ve raised to continue developing a full enterprise solution stack for commercial drone applications. This development includes the creation of drone hardware, sensors, software, and end-to-end support for integrating aerial data and analytics into the enterprise.

In early May, PrecisionHawk made headlines for the release of its new BVLOS technology at AUVSI XPONENTIAL, which came out at the same time as their corresponding Pathfinder report on BVLOS.

PrecisionHawk’s mission is to empower the enterprise pioneer, from pilot to deployment. To drive transformational change, we believe a business needs an integrated hardware-software platform and the technical support to connect to existing systems and workflows.

– Michael Chasen, CEO of PrecisionHawk

Skydio—$42 Million

In the early spring, Skydio announced that they’d raised $42 million in a series B funding round, which brought their total capital raised up to $70 million. The fundraising round was led by Playground Global and IVP, as well as Nvidia, Accel, Andreessen Horowitz, and Kevin Durant.

Skydio hopes to succeed in carving out space for itself in the consumer drone market despite the dominance of DJI, and will use these funds to continue work on its R1 drone, which is, in their words, the “first fully autonomous flying camera” (it is a pretty impressive UAV—you can see it in action in the video below).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsfkGlSajHQ

DroneDeploy—$25 Million

Toward the end of June, drone software company DroneDeploy announced that they had raised $25 million in a series C round of funding led by the Invenergy Future Fund. Other participants in the fundraising round included Scale Venture Partners, Uncork Capital, Emergence Capital, AngelPad, and AirTree.

Up to this point DroneDeploy had raised about $31 million, so the series C almost doubles their total capital raised.

According to DroneDreploy, they plan to use these funds to expand their data platform into new industries.

With this new funding round, we have the opportunity to work with more customers who will bring our drone data platform to new industries and transform workflows on every job site.

– Mike Winn, DroneDeploy CEO and Co-Founder

Cape Analytics—$17 Million

cape-analytics-logo

Last month Cape Analytics announced that it had raised $17 million in a series B funding round led by insurance-centric VC fund XL Innovate. The round also included a number of Cape Analytics’ own insurance customers and partners, including The Hartford, Nephila, CSAA Insurance Group, Cincinnati Financial, and State Auto Labs Fund.

The funding will be used to grow its aerial imagery platform, which meshes computer vision with geospatial imagery to provide accurate data on properties to insurance companies located in the United States. Cape Analytics’ platform uses AI to organize and interpret huge amounts of data, and the funds will help continue to improve their software.

Matternet—$16 Million

matternet-logo

In late June, drone delivery company Matternet announced that they had raised $16 million in a fundraising round lead by Boeing’s HorizonX Ventures (Boeing’s venture section), along with investors Levitate Capital, Swiss Post, and the Sony Innovation Fund.

Matternet plans to use the funds to expand their delivery operations internationally, as well as in the United States.

https://youtu.be/dD1yyWuULCs

Between [Matternet’s] success in Switzerland and being selected by the FAA to test unmanned aerial networks in the U.S., we are excited to work together to reimagine how the world connects and shape the next generation of transportation solutions.

– Brian Schettler, Boeing HorizonX Ventures Managing Director

DroneBase—$12 Million

In mid-spring, DroneBase announced that they’d raised $12 million in a series B funding round co-led by Union Square Ventures and Upfront Ventures. Other funders included DJI, Pritzker Group, and Hearst Ventures.

When announcing the outcome of the Series B, DroneBase also announced a new enterprise level platform for their augmented reality platform, designed to help companies with fleets of drone pilots in training for various scenarios.

This round marks DJI’s third investment in DroneBase through SkyFund, which demonstrates our confidence in their continued success in an industry that, while growing at a rapid pace, is just at the beginning of realizing its full potential.

– Jan Gasparic, DJI Executive

The post Gauging the Drone Industry’s Worth: $187 Million Raised in the last Six Months appeared first on UAV Coach.

Learn to Fly a Drone with UAV Coach’s In-Person Drone Training Class

This month, UAV Coach announced their new in-person drone flight training classes, which are available across the Southeast United States. UAV Coach created the 90-minute, in-person training class for drone pilots to gain hands-on flight time with an instructor, practice with intelligent flight modes, and knowledge about what to do before, during and after a flight mission to stay compliant and safe.

drone training class

A private, one-on-one drone flight training class with a UAV Coach instructor takes place at the Parthenon in Centennial Park, Nashville, Tennessee.

In-Person Drone Training Class

During UAV Coach’s in-person drone flight training class, students can expect to:

  • Meet with an expert and friendly instructor in a convenient outdoor location, like a park or athletic field
  • Learn on a popular DJI drone model that will be provided by the instructor
  • Have 30-45 minutes of hands-on flying time to master orientation, basic flight maneuvers, and more advanced flight skills
  • Walk through the DJI Go 4 app so that you understand the settings and indicators
  • Learn how to handle obstacles such as lost GPS, low battery charge or emergencies
  • Practice flying under various intelligent flight modes
  • Capture photo and video at your flight location
  • Understand best practices of being a safe drone pilot
  • Ask questions about regulations, software, flight operations management, checklists and more

Students do not need to have their own drone to take the course. UAV Coach’s highly vetted team of instructors provide a DJI Mavic, Phantom, or Inspire drone for the class.

As a UAV Coach instructor, I enjoy watching the students pick up and improve their flight skills and knowledge. Students will gain confidence and improved skills in just one session, and it’s a great deal of fun.

— Glen Sherwin, UAV Coach Instructor

Locations

UAV Coach debuted the class throughout the Southeast in select cities across eight states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. View specific locations on our class locations map.

The UAV Coach team expects to add more locations later this year throughout the U.S. If classes haven’t been added in your location yet, check out our online drone training resources.

The instructor will meet the student(s) for a private or group lesson in a convenient outdoor location, like a park or athletic field. All UAV Coach instructors are interviewed and subject to background checks. Additionally, all instructors have drone pilot experience in industries such as real estate, construction, and public safety. With years of experience in the field and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Part 107 certification, the UAV Coach drone pilot instructors are able to confidently answer student questions about regulations, software, flight operations, and more.

We’re proud of the impressive team of instructors we’ve brought on board. They’re passionate about the industry and excited to share their knowledge with students.

— Lana Axelrod, UAV Coach Chief Operating Officer

Value

The cost of the class is $199, which includes 90 minutes with a FAA Certified Part 107 pilot, drone equipment for the class, 30-45 minutes of flight time, and regulatory compliance and safety training.

This class is recommended for a variety of skill levels. You’ll benefit from UAV Coach’s in-person flight training course as a newcomer to the drone industry just getting into flying, an experienced drone pilot who wants to gain flight confidence and knowledge, or as a commercial drone pilot who wants to professionalize his or her operations. This is due to the fact that the instructor tailors each class to the student’s skill level and goals.

book in person drone training

After booking your flight class, we’ll ask you some questions to help us better understand your goals. Then, we use your answers to personalize the class, which can cover topics like flight operations management, rules and regulations, DJI flight modes, and intelligent / advanced programming.

Other Drone Training Resources

There are additional, online resources for drone pilots learning how to fly or working towards their FAA Part 107 certification.

An excellent resource for novice drone pilots is our Drone Flying Guide — a beginner’s guide to multirotor systems & flight proficiency. This online guide covers drone flying lessons on quadcopter controls, pre-flight checklists, drone flying techniques, and more.

Commercial pilots and hobbyists working toward their FAA Part 107 Certification will benefit from another online resource, Drone Pilot Ground School (DPGS) — an online test prep course for commercial drone pilots looking to pass the FAA Aeronautical Knowledge Test for a Remote Pilot Certificate. Students who take the DPGS prep course go on to pass the Aeronautical Knowledge Test with a 99% pass rate.

Be sure to check back or subscribe to our newsletter for announcements about in-person drone flight training as we work on adding more locations.

The post Learn to Fly a Drone with UAV Coach’s In-Person Drone Training Class appeared first on UAV Coach.

How to Build a High Quality Drone Pilot Network for Customized Jobs: An Interview with Jake Carey, Founder of Helo Perspective

We’ve known Jake Carey for some time now, since he first started building his drone network company, Helo Perspective.

Jake is a Drone Pilot Ground School alum with years of experience flying a UAV as a commercial pilot, as well as managing UAV service operations being performed by other drone pilots. Helo Perspective recently hit a milestone with over 500 drone pilots working for them, and we wanted to sit down to hear from Jake about how he first started the company, and how he’s managed to build it to the point where it is today.

Begin Interview

What is Helo Perspective?

We are a drone pilot network with pilots all over the country. What sets us apart from other drone pilot networks is that we do really sophisticated, high end work, which means that we thoroughly vet our pilots—you can’t just sign up and start working for us.

We primarily work with the big tower companies, big communications companies, and big cell companies, and we’re in talks with a couple of the really, really big companies right now to be their exclusive drone provider moving forward.

At this point we have over 500 pilots across the country that work for us, and we’re working toward being one of the top drone service providers in the U.S.

Right now we do anything from cell towers inspections, to power tower inspections, to bridge inspections. We’re starting to get into some pipeline inspection, and we’ll also still do real estate marketing work, as well as some agriculture applications if the customer—whatever the customer needs.

helo-perspective-interview

How did Helo Perspective first get its start?

Five years ago I got laid off from my job and decided to start a roofing company.

It went really well for several years, but, oddly enough, I’m actually afraid of heights. So I got to the point where I felt bad that all of my guys and my business partners were having to climb up on roofs, and I wasn’t.

At that time we started to see drones around quite a bit, and it occurred to me that we could use them to do roof inspections. And sure enough, out of the box I was able to get really good results using a drone for inspections.

This got my wheels spinning, and I started thinking that it would be great to market drone inspections and try and see if there are other ways to make money flying drones as a commercial pilot.

So I started doing what everyone else does when they first start out as a commercial drone pilot—the weddings and events and different kinds of things here and there—and I had marginal success with that.

inspections-cell-towers

Things really started to take off in the drone space for me when my friend’s father approached me about going into business together. He had 30 years of experience in the telecom industry, and he was working with a company that was starting an an initiative to map cell and communication towers with drones. He wanted to know if I’d partner with them to create a business and be the drone service provider for companies that wanted to do this sort of thing, and I said absolutely. And that’s where Helo Perspective came from.

About four months later, we landed our first big client. We have just been running with our hair on fire ever since—we’ve now delivered close to 1.5 million images to our clients.

How did you scale from those early days to the point where you are now, with over 500 pilots in your network?

Our growth has really been made in direct response to individual client needs, both in specific geographic regions and in specific commercial sectors.

When we decided to grow to be a national network, it was in response to a really big client who had locations all over the country.

My recruitment efforts to find those first pilots across the country were very grass roots—I went onto Facebook and found several different commercial drone forums, and posted the scope of what our project was going to be.

By the end of the day I had almost 300 pilots signed up, and by the end of the week we had over 400 signed up. And when I say signed up, these aren’t just guys who just found us online and gave us some basic information. We interviewed them, had them sign non-disclosures, made sure they had their Part 107, drone insurance, and vetted them thoroughly to make sure we were getting top notch pilots.

From that first push, we just kept going and going and building the network, until we got to where we are now.

What makes Helo Perspective unique as a drone service network?

Our drone pilots are absolutely the best pilots in the country. We wouldn’t put them flying next to a telecom company’s million dollar asset if we didn’t really feel like they were the best of the best.

So what sets us apart is that, if you have a very specific, tailored project that you need a drone for, then we’ve got the network and the pilots to get it done, exactly to your specifications.

Even if you’ve got some weird, really unique and interesting project that nobody has ever thought of before, our pilots will have the skill set to do it.

That’s really what sets us apart—the ability to do exactly what the client wants, no matter how much specialized skill might be required.

How do you find your pilots?

One of our first points of contact is through the website. Pilots have to meet certain criteria to even be considered—do they have a Part 107, do they have certain types of drone insurance, do they have experience, and so on.

Next, we also have set a standard on the actual amount of flight hours that our pilots have to have to be eligible for different types of jobs.

Once a pilot has been approved to do certain types of work based on these things, then, when we get a job in a pilot’s area, one of our project coordinators will call that pilot and spend time with them on the phone getting their history and background, and really figuring out what they’re capable of doing.

We’ll ask whether they’ve done cell tower inspections before, or whether they’ve done any kind of communication tower inspections, and so on. We’ll also make sure they’re intimately familiar with the FAA’s Part 107 rules, and know basic restrictions like you can’t fly over a crowd, or at night, etcetera.

Because the work we do can be very technical and challenging, we take this vetting process very seriously. There have been several instances where we’ve pulled a pilot from a project before it gets started based on the results from these preliminary calls—bottom line, we don’t get started with a project until we feel 100% confident in our pilots.

Is your typical Helo Perspectives pilot working just for you, or do they have other drone services work they do?

Most of our pilots also have either a part time or a full time drone business that they own, or that they’re working towards launching.

We have a lot of guys that have just a highly impressive amount of drone experience. For example, we’ve got a pilot that’s working for us now that has done drone work for ESPN, and we’ve got a pilot in Arizona right now that has done inspections for a number of our larger towers who’s in California at the moment doing a shoot for a completely different company.

Bottom line, our pilots do not have no-compete clauses in their contracts, and they’re free to work however and with whomever they want. But if we have something come up, they generally pay special attention to us because they know we’ll continue to use them over and over again whenever we have work in their area.

What sorts of challenges do your pilots run into in the field?

The tower inspections our pilots do can be incredibly challenging, and require a great deal of experience and precision when it comes to a pilot’s ability.

cell-tower-inspections

These cell tower inspections aren’t a scenario where you can just drive up, fly around two or three times, then hand the client your raw data and hope they got what you need. We’re making some highly sophisticated deliverables for our customers, which allow them to measure different parts of a tower, and to put them into a 3D model.

The work requires certain types of expertise as a pilot, and certain types of equipment. For instance, we use a higher level megapixel camera—we typically use 20 megapixel cameras instead of the standard 12 megapixel cameras. Typically, for these tower inspections a client will walk away with over 1,000 photos.

In order to be able to do these things, you’ve got to spend quite a bit of time and be somewhat intricate in making sure that you’re getting exactly what the client needs when you fly your mission.

When we get to these towers that are 700, 800, 900 feet tall, or 1,000 feet tall, even 1,500 feet tall, the height of the tower starts to introduce some issues in making sure we can get everything that we need for our deliverables.

No matter how good of a pilot you are, there’s always a fear factor in flying your drone at 1,400 feet in the air. Wind speeds are significantly different at that level, and obviously it’s going to be very hard to see at that level. So it introduces a bunch more caution and complicated issues whenever you’re trying to fly in those kinds of conditions.

And again, this goes back to why we only hire the very best pilots, because we know we’re going to ask them to fly very challenging missions like this.

The post How to Build a High Quality Drone Pilot Network for Customized Jobs: An Interview with Jake Carey, Founder of Helo Perspective appeared first on UAV Coach.

Drone Pilot Ground School Scholarship Recipient Helps Community Recover from Natural Disaster with Drone Documentary

Drone Pilot Ground School (DPGS) scholarship recipient, Carl Hayden, is using his new skills as a drone pilot to give back to his community in Amherst County, Virginia. On April 15, 2018, Amherst County was hit by a destructive tornado. The tornado caused damage to 25 homes and injury to seven people. Thankfully, no fatalities were reported.

Hayden’s home and family were not hit by the tornado, but some of his friends and classmates were not as fortunate.

“Thankfully I wasn’t hit; but a few of my friends and soccer team mates had their homes completely destroyed.”

First responders and emergency service providers across the United States have been using drones to assist with natural disaster recovery. Hayden’s high school technology club, Amherst Lancers Tech Club, was granted permission by the County Sheriff’s department to fly their drones over the impacted area.

Our tech club teacher, Mike Cargill, offered our assistance, and we were able to help EMS/Sheriff/utilities with aerial views of the aftermath, as well as help locate personal effects of those whose homes were destroyed. This has become an ongoing project documenting the disaster itself, cleanup, and reclamation.

-Carl Hayden, DPGS Student and Scholarship Recipient

Amherst VA Tornado 2018

A home damaged by the tornado in Elon, Virginia on April 15, 2018. Photo by NOAA via Wikimedia Commons.

An Ongoing Effort — Drone Documentary

What began as a volunteer effort has evolved into an ongoing service and film project, “Beyond the Storm,” — a year-long docuseries that follows the community’s recovery and progress after the tornado.

The local news channel, WDBJ7, reported on the Amherst Lancers Tech Club’s efforts to help the community and document the tornado recovery.

 

You can view clips from the docuseries on the Amherst Lancers Tech Club’s Facebook page. Additionally, you can listen to their interview with VA Talk Radio Network, where they talk about the effects of the tornado and their “Beyond the Storm” project.

Reflecting on his experience helping his community after the tornado, Hayden expressed his gratitude for DPGS. He recently wrote to us:

I’ve been able to put drone skills to good use more quickly than I imagined. I wanted to let you know your scholarship for training is being put to good use — not just for profit, but to help our neighbors and community.

-Carl Hayden, DPGS Student and Scholarship Recipient

A round of applause is in order for Hayden and all the members of Amherst Lancers Tech Club who have been a part of the “Beyond the Storm” project. It’s the type of drones for good story we want to hear more of.

Apply for the Drone Pilot Ground School High School Scholarship

At DPGS, we celebrate the opportunity to provide high school students like Hayden with scholarships to our online training course. The course prepares students to take the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Aeronautical Knowledge Test for their Part 107 / Remote Pilot Certification.

High School Scholarship Online Drone Training

Scholarship recipients are awarded free access to the course ($299 value), which includes 70+ video/text lectures, five practice tests, instructor support, and lifetime access to the course. Over 11,000 students have already trained through DPGS and go on to take the FAA Aeronautical Knowledge Test with a 99% pass rate.

High school students are encouraged to apply for the DPGS High School STEM Scholarship for Aspiring Commercial Drone Pilots. Eligible students must be 1) at least 16 years old, 2) currently enrolled in high school, and 3) living in the U.S.

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