Over the last year and a bit I have delivered the two day ground school for EuroUSC to over 700 aspiring commercial UAV pilots. The typical composition of the classes changed noticeably during that time. Initially we saw people with RC experience wanting to extend their hobby, professional photographers and videographers needing to add an aerial capability to their existing services, and quite a few manned aviation pilots too. More recently however I was seeing more and more people attend the course who had no relevant experience at all, they simply had decided that there was a business opportunity in flying drones. Almost all of those people were convinced that residential property shots would be the big opportunity.

Sadly, for many of these people that is simply not the case. Firstly that end of the market has a lot of legitimate (and cowboy) operators and secondly, they do not have the skills to do a good enough job to be able to compete with those capable of delivering a quality product to their customers. Going to Jessops and buying a 5D does not make you a photographer. It could lead one day to that happening, but only after years of experience and probably some training. It’s the same in the AP world. There are some very, very good people out there and it is those people who will pick up consistent work. Oh, and you also have to go out and sell, because unless you are prepared to do this it is not going to happen for you.

It was clear to me when I was operating two years ago that the best opportunities were in the specialist areas such as photogrammetry, mapping, agriculture, inspections and so on. All of these require special expertise, not so easily acquired. Many AP Operators include Aerial Survey as a service on their web sites but actually have not the first idea of what is involved, so they cannot deliver.

The primary reason I have started The UAV Academy is to enable UAV pilots/operators acquire the specialist and more advanced skills they need to transition from being amateur (even if they have a PFAW) to being truly professional and capable of delivering specialist aerial services to their customers. The paradox is that aerial videography is perhaps the most difficult of all skills to acquire, and yet that is where almost everyone starts. Just because you can take a camera up in the air does not make you an aerial videographer. It is not just about flying skills either, although without these you cannot possibly event start to do a decent job.

So, if you are, or intend to operate commercially you should consider developing your skills on an ongoing basis so that you are capable of competing in what has become a busy and confused market. I am confident that The UAV Academy will be able to help people become much better at what they do by giving them the knowledge and the skills to consistently deliver great quality to their customers.