What is the one thing drone pilots want?
Good afternoon my fellow drone, UAV, UAS, sUAS pilots!

Now that AOPA is in its 8th month of the Drone Membership, I would personally like to hear from you all on the AOPA Hangar! I am listening. What is on your "wish" list? Let's not make this about other organizations or personal gripes. We all have them (including me), but let's have a good discussion about what you all think is missing out there in the drone space and perhaps how we can get there. You can be as simple as "I would like drone gear discounts from my organization" (not promising anything here. haha) or I would like more...news, education (and if so what specifically), career help, advocacy, insurance products, etc...This is your time (okay it is your forum). One thing I always wanted from an organization was to know my membership dues meant something, that when I put the membership sticker on my Jeep or gear that I had some pride in it (in them). Again, you do not have to make this AOPA focused as this group is open to members and non members, I am just personally curious, what your personal drone "wish list" is as a hobbyist or Part 107 pilot. Hope everyone is doing well and flying a lot!

Blue skies,
9 Replies
One thing I woud like to see is an effort to educate drone pilots operating commercially to be more aware of their state and local regs.  According to the FAA there is now 960 commercial drone pilots in MN (last time I looked) but according to the MN Dot there is about 100.  I am one of the 100 that checked the state requirements and filed all the proper paperwork.  In MN to operate a drone commercially, besides meeting FAA requirements, the drone must be registered with the MN Dot, insurance coverage must meet min requirements and be filed with MN Dot, and must also have a MN commercial operators license for aerial photography, mapping, inspections, etc even if you are from out of state and fly for hire in MN.  

On one hand this is all good because in theory it prevents operations by people not serious about flying safe and within the regs. The way I see it, in MN the lagitimate operators have made a serious comitment to safety and following the rules if they were willing to jump through all the hoops and earn the privilege to fly a drone for hire.  This is important because bad operators will refect poorly on this industry.  It is hard enough having the general public only see drones as a privacy concern rather than a valuable tool.  After 20 years in the commercail trucking industry, I can definately attest to the FACT that a skewed public opinion always seems to hurt everyone, not just the few bad operators.  It is important to have positive association made up of lagitimate drone pilots to help seperate the good from the bad.  

Back to the education; not all of the pilots in MN know there is more to flying fore hire than just the FAA regs.  The FAA says "follow your local and state laws" and in some states, like SD, that is it.... there is no state requirements other than to be certified by FAA and follow FAA regs. There needs to be postings to make people aware and links to make it easier to find the information.  If I hadn't owned and operated my own commercial trucking business, I wouldnt have known where to go or what to do either.  A lot of pilots in MN as well as in other states that have commercial drone laws are in danger of learning first hand something I made note of a very long time aro,.... DO NOT CROSS THE D.O.T., they dont fool around.

Becoming a drone pilot may not be as extensive of a process as becoming a commercial airline pilot yet, but if drone pilots dont step up and do this right, the regs requiring more hoops for all of us will be coming. 

I fly my drone for a living and I am proud to have done what it takes earn this privilege.  Every pilot flying safely and legally needs to stand up and be recognized otherwise the only ones that get noticed are the bad operators.  We should be a window sticker we can display or something. 
Great thoughts Jesse!  I'm not a drone pilot but I am a CFI.  What I would love to see from organizations as a member of the non-drone flying public is a more comprehensive training and eduction program on the rules and etiquette of drone flying.  I've seen some exceptionally "unaware" drone flyers flying their drones in areas that are meant for wilderness.  Your watching a beautiful sunset on a quiet remote beach, and all of a sudden a drone comes flying in, hovering, maneuvering right over head.  It seems to be the Wild West out there and just because a drone can fly someplace doesn't mean it should.  These "bad operators" as you mention are what will make it difficult for this industry to be accepted by the public.
Frank May
1 Posts

I started the "Drone Process" in 2015 sending in for a 333 Exemption. I studied and earned my Sport Pilot license(because I needed a pilots license to fly commercially) What was suppose to take 120 days for the 333 never happened. Then part 107 which opened the flood gates for almost everyone who had a drone. In this case for me more regulation was good.  The vast number of part 107 pilots have driven prices down to the point where it is not profitable to take jobs.  Then there are the drone operators with NO license doing everything from flying over high school football games and stands at night to interfering with flights at airports.

I guess I have become disillusioned with the whole process.  I read a study where only 21% of licensed drone pilots are making a living with their drone. I am not in the 21%.  This was to be a retirement job for me.  I feel sorry for the legally licensed drone pilots who thought they were going to make a living with their drones, only to find out differently.

The people reading on this site are not the problem.  It is the vast number of people operating drones with no license of any type, no regard to any law and no interest in learning how to do it the correct legal way.

If you would like to jump into the drone wild west, check the AOPA classifieds for a nice well equiped DJI Inspire 1 V2.  Then send money and I will ship it.

The best thing that came from this experience is that I did got a pilots license, something I started in 1997 but could not financially justify before.  It has given me MUCH pleasure and I am now looking for the perfect plane to carry two bicycles for my wife and I to go exploring in.

Best Wishes to All!
Frank May
Frank, to make money you need to talk to the folks who are concerned about licensing and insurance - commercial companies who have liability concerns. They won't hire the flakes out there who are doing it all wrong. They need the professionals who are licensed and bonded. I fly mainly for construction companies (who have lawyers) and I specialize in photographing dirt! I am making good money in my semi-retirement at minimal expense to my time. omaddenaerialphotography.com  https://omaddenaerialphotography.com/?p=224 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ehzmILrubE
As a private pilot and part 107 drone pilot (and yes I do both). I see the need for balancing airspace. I'm not big on saying we need "more" regulation! However I am big on thoughtful regulation! I think an ADS-B "like" integration into the drone arena should be investigated! It would help give us "manned aircraft" a way of seeing something so small via ADSB technology that many pilots have today via apps and such. 

I really would like to see the FAA say that if your engaged in commercial operations with a small UAS drone that you are required to monitor ADS-B traffic in the area during your flights. While there is a small buy in to get an ADS-B receiver, there are apps that will display the traffic for free. I think where we could gain some ground on the drone side by implementing that requirement would be that we could raise the 400' AGL ceiling (without adding extra hoops) on drones to something much higher. This would be a reasonable trade off now that manned aircraft are required to have the ADS-B out transmitters for most airspace. It also adds a layer of safety. 

In any case I don't see any drawbacks to drone's transmitting a signal that a manned aircraft (if equipped with ADS-B in technology) could identify as traffic. I also don't see drawbacks on the drone operators side to monitor manned traffic in the area. I think its a win all around, especially if we get a bit higher ceiling!
Thanks for this forum, I just found it.. lol.
I would like to see some kind of notification(s) from AOPA, concerning new drone operational requirements being proposed or at least when inplenented. So my point is it would be great to see the above in our AOOA App.
My latest  is the proposal to require drones to transmit an identifier code. 
Thanks again for this forum.