Drone Flying: The New Industry

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What if I told you there was a totally fun cool “toy” that if you learned to play with really well you could earn millions?  Well, that reality is here; being able to fly a drone.  Drones are fast becoming an entire industry with thousands of jobs and exciting money making opportunities.  Are you curious about this new drone industry? Flying drones is something that every high school should make part of its curriculum because students who master the rules, regulations and flying skills will have the opportunity to make a lot of money. It’s also a ton of fun, you can race with them and learn new tricks.

While it is true flying a drone is as fun as playing with your favorite toy, it is more like driving a car with all of the rules and regulations you have to know and follow. That is because you have to think of flying a drone as flying an airplane, or, as they are called by “the industry,” small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). Many people think they can just go to a store, spend $100 to $3,000 on a drone, take it out in their yard, and fly it.  However, they can get in a lot of trouble if they don’t follow the “laws” that govern the flying of drones.  Some of those laws are:

  • Fly no higher than 400 feet and remain below any surrounding obstacles when possible
  • Must be less than 55 lbs, must be registered if over 0.55 lbs (online)
  • Do not intentionally fly over unprotected persons or moving vehicles, and remain at least 25 feet away from individuals and vulnerable property
  • Must have Remote Pilot Airman Certificate,
  • Must pass the applicable Transportation Security Administration (TSA) vetting, must be 16 years old, that is for if you’re wanting to make money with the drones.
  • Contact the airport and control tower before flying within five miles of an airport or heliport. (Class G airspace)
  • Must fly during the day and must fly at 100 mph or under.

Those who just buy the drones and fly it, if they don’t comply with the above, they face fines from $100 to thousands and even jail time.  Companies who fly drones and don’t comply face much worse — in the millions.  Like I said, you have to think of owning a drone as like owning a car — break the law and it will cost you.

Drones are not just toys though, they are big business too.  It’s predicted that 100,000 additional UAS jobs will flood the market over the next few years and even now a lot of those jobs are blooming up in the market. Some of these jobs include:

  • Real Estate videos – showing high end property using aerial drone footage – using drones to take video.
  • Precision Agriculture – using drones to check on crops and such to make sure everything is on point.  This saves a ton of time if you have a lot of acres to cover.
  • News footage — Drone cameras are flying into unsafe areas to give us footage of breaking news.  The reporter can be close to the scene, without being on the scene.
  • Delivery — Drones are being used by having a hook on them, attaching a package, and using the drone to deliver the package.  UPS is piloting this.

There are a lot more jobs out there then these ones that I listed,  like security flying around land, and search and rescue jobs.  Getting really good at flying your “toy” can lead to a great job — as long as you follow the rules.

Job are not the only way to make money, there are even drone sports! The Drone Racing League is now considered a professional sport and is televised on ESPN. You might ask yourself what is the Drone Racing League? Well, what they do is race drones known as first person view (fps) drones.  These are dones you fly using a virtual reality headset and it gives you a view like you are the drone flying….so you have a view as if you are staring out the front window of the drone you are driving — if it had a window. You only see what is in front of you.  You also can’t see the controls….you have to just “feel it.”  You can either build your own or buy one. They race through tunnels and obstacles having to make sharp turns and compete who is going to be first to the finish line being the winner. These drones are no toy, they can fly up to 5-8 kilometers and up to speeds of 170 mph going from 0 to 80 mph in under a second. The league has had regional championships and have crowned a world champion for two years now — with competitors from all over the world competing.  

With all of these opportunities to be a drone professional, schools should really  have more drone projects and a even dedicated classes for it.  This would help students prepare for if they ever want to get a job in the expanding drone industry.  It is another way for schools to prepare them to earn money, even if it is just a little side change if they have a drone and have their license.  Besides, teaching classes would educate students and have more people properly flying drones with a license.

I’m a student at South Valley High School in ukiah, and I am currently in a drone class.  South Valley is a continuation school, which most people think is full of bad kids sitting at desks and working on packets.  However, South Valley isn’t like that, which is why they have a drone class.  They started it because a teacher was into it and thought the students would like it and that they should be educated in flying drones properly.  I first took the drones class last year, but joined late.  At first I was a bit lost on what the controls were and how to fly. Then once I learned, it was a lot of fun and discovering what drones could do and all the jobs really had me interested to discover more about drones. It just makes me want to know everything about them. I learned more about drones then I ever knew I could. This knowledge has helped me a lot so far.  For example, when my cousin asked me what age he had to be to get his license I knew all the requirements. He wanted to start trying out drones more which helped him out a lot.  I know I will graduate this year, in June of 2018.  After graduation, I feel pretty good knowing I can get a job in the drone industry.  



“Homepage 2.0.” The Drone Racing League, Drone Racing League, 11 Nov. 2017, thedroneracingleague.com/.

Know Before You Fly, Know Before You Fly, 10 Oct. 2017, knowbeforeyoufly.org/.

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