I’ve always dreamed about being a pilot.
While working in video for the last few years I was seduced in gaining footage from the skies above, capturing beautiful buttery smooth camera moves that only a drone could provide. It started when I was at Fox 17 four years ago when I covered a story in Traverse City about Northwestern Michigan College being one of the premier colleges in the country for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) operator training. I would have loved to taken courses then, but living in Grand Rapids with a job and a 2 hour commute was out of the question.
So after tabling that thought for a few years, the FAA changed the Federal Aviation regulations for UAS enabling remote pilots to gain a pilot certificate to operate for business purposes. Just recently the FAA ruled that hobbyists do not need to have this certification, but anyone flying for a commercial business needs to pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved testing center. Also a background check along with very strict operating rules, along with obtaining FAA authorization and waivers in protected airspace.
Understanding the content to take the FAA Part 107 test was a small feat in itself, but I was able to attend a 3 day intensive UAS drone training seminar sponsored by the Poynter Institute of Journalism this Spring, which provided invaluable info to prepare me for the exam. The seminar focused on the exam prep as well as journalism ethics for operators and hands-on flying training with a variety of drones.
About a month ago, I walked into the Muskegon airport testing center and passed the FAA 107 test and now am certified to fly. Following gaining that certification I’ve been able to launch my drone a few times and am gaining experience in safety procedures as well as precise movements to capture amazing visuals. There is a real feeling of freedom in being able to fly it, and occasionally looking down at my display screen exactly what the drone sees – it almost feels like I’m up there with it.
Having this new visual tool will expand my photography and video work for SaboPR, and we are now able to provide those highly sought after aerial photos and videos to enhance our projects.
As coined by Cervantes in Don Quixote, ‘the sky’s the limit.’