Flying with the new pro on call

by Andy Bryenton

Time has a way of changing the kind of services which are available door to door. Some we appreciate gaining, like the facility to get an IT expert around when our computers are behaving badly. Others we miss, like old-fashioned doctor’s house calls. Still more are gone with history, like the dunnikindiver, the man who dug new outhouse toilets.

Perhaps the newest service available on call is that of the drone pilot. The technology that has enabled these small aircraft to take flight is still advancing by leaps and bounds, tied to improvements in battery design and manufacturing. Moreover, the deft skills and knowledge of new laws required to be an expert with drones are a real commodity.

The most obvious use for such tiny fliers is as platforms for cameras. Drone pilots are in big demand with the real estate sector, flying over and around homes to present a spectacular view, or to highlight the picturesque vistas available from the property. Others can be called up to provide coverage for special events; the still camera alone is no longer enough for some wedding planners, who call in a drone pilot to capture a whole new, HD video sample of the happy occasion.

Architects and builders may need the skills of a drone operator to get the lay of the land. Information from a drone can capture contours on camera, or be mated with satellite imagery and sensitive radar or laser radar data to see beneath the surface. It also means that there are drones out there that can probe down to where water waits to be tapped or even assist with the search for precious minerals.

Farmers can use a drone pilot’s skills to overfly land, which is set to be repurposed for crops, mapping soil science information on next to irrigation. Vets can scan livestock with a drone equipped with infra-red to pinpoint illness, or even when it’s the prime time for breeding.

At the extreme level, drones are used for law enforcement, search and rescue.

Right now, there are only a small number of professional drone pilots, but their numbers are growing through demand.

People who have taken to the skies as model aero pilots and model enthusiasts are suddenly in the position of turning their particular skill set into a cash career.