Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or drones, are an exciting new tool being used to create amazing content and unlock new possibilities in many industries. If you’re thinking about using a drone to document your event or expand your operations, keep these 10 tips in mind to make sure you do things right.

1.       Are my operations commercial?

If you’re using drones for anything other than completely personal use, the operations are almost certainly commercial. Many people mistakenly believe that if they donate their services, their operations are not considered commercial. Any time there is a commercial benefit from the use of the content created, the operation is considered commercial.

Administration of city governments, non-profits, churches, charities, and other similar entities is technically a commercial activity, even if the operations are not generating a profit. Providing services to create content for these entities is a commercial activity, even if you aren’t being paid to fly.

2.       Does my pilot have a license?

If you’re flying missions to create content or provide services commercially, as described above, you must have a Remote Pilot Certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration. This involves taking a test to demonstrate you understand airspace and how to stay out of the way of civil and military aviation activities.

You absolutely want to take the time to learn about the airspace tools and rules for safe flight operations. Study materials and details on how to take your test can be found at www.faa.gov/uas/.

3.       Is my drone registered with the FAA?

All drones used for commercial operations MUST be individually registered with the FAA.

You may have seen articles recently about a lawsuit that struck down the UAS registration requirement. This judgement was regarding ONLY recreational UAS use. The registration requirement for commercial drones is still very much in place. The registration process is quick and simple, and only costs $5.00 per UAS. Details can be found at www.faa.gov/uas/.

4.       Is my UAS service provider local to my state?

While the Federal Aviation Administration is the authority when it comes to aviation operations, some states have passed additional laws regarding commercial use of UAS, or about business in general. This is especially important if the mission involves generation of 3D and other data models for construction or engineering purposes.

If you contract with a UAS service provider that does not regularly operate in your state, they may not be aware of the laws and regulations that apply in your state.

5.       Does my mission fly in controlled airspace?

Operation in any airspace other than Class G airspace requires prior approval. Additionally, there are military operations areas and other restricted areas that require special permissions or are off-limits. Make sure your UAS service provider can explain the airspace to you clearly.

The airspace maps are challenging for a non-pilot to read unassisted, but any quality pilot should be able to walk a non-aviation person through the airspace map with no problem. If your pilot cannot, think twice about using their services.

6.       Does my mission fly over people?

Any mission flying over people that aren’t actually part of the mission requires a special waiver from the FAA. There are extremely few companies that have been granted this waiver.

If you’ve seen drone video that looks straight down as the UAS passes over fairs, races, moving traffic, concerts, pools, and amusement parks, or any kind of event crowd, it’s almost certainly not legal.

If you see this kind of content in the social media feed of your UAS services provider, ask them if they have a waiver. They probably don’t.

7.       Is my drone carrying cargo?

Carrying cargo is technically not illegal, but the rules require the PIC (Pilot in Command) to ALWAYS be able to see the UAS with unassisted vision. That means they can’t use an FPV (First Person View) system, binoculars, or other device to see the UAS while in flight.

The unmodified range on many pro-sumer models of UAS is greater than a mile, but the generally accepted limit of the human ability to maintain sight of most small UAS with the naked eye in clear weather is one mile.

Additionally, the remote control systems for most UAS are line-of-sight, meaning if the UAS goes behind a building or tree, or descends and no longer has a direct unobstructed line-of-sight to the remote controller, there is a strong possibility of loss of control.

Flying the UAS from a moving vehicle while the UAS transports cargo is also not legal, so following the UAS in a chase vehicle won’t work. It also defeats the purpose of UAS cargo transport.

In short, for both legal and mechanical reasons, UAS cargo transport under the current rules with today’s most common small UAS tech is not practical.

8.       Is my drone flying long distances?

As mentioned above, flying beyond VLOS (Visual Line of Sight) requires a special waiver from the FAA, and the systems, scope, and scale of that kind of operation make them commercially impractical. The only companies getting special permission for these kinds of systems are aerospace companies experimenting with long-range control systems and assisting in the efforts to create UAS air traffic control systems.

If you need to fly long-distance missions that don’t involve research into improving UAS systems, you’re better off looking at other tools, like manned fixed-wing and rotor craft.

9.       How much does my drone weigh?

If your drone weighs less than 0.55lbs, you don’t need to worry about anything mentioned in this post. The FAA rules don’t apply to anything that weighs less than 0.55lbs. If your UAS weights more than 0.55lbs, then all of these rules apply to your operations. If your drone weighs more than 55lbs, then there are even more rules that apply.

10.   Is there a special event in or near the area of operation?

Special events sometimes have flight restrictions that are NOT PUBLISHED on the aviation resources that pilots use to plan their flights. This is an area where it REALLY pays to use a professional UAS service provider.

A quality commercial UAS pilot will have a good relationship with local law enforcement, and be able to check with them to confirm local events that may impact planned operations.

Confused? Don’t worry. You don’t have to figure this all out for yourself. If you’re using a professional UAS service provider, they should be able to walk you through each mission, so you understand how it is compliant. If they can’t, you may want to find a new provider.

Are you considering using a UAS for your business? Contact me today to learn how to use UAS the right way. I’ll review your mission at no charge, so you know you’re flying right.



Dave Agler is an FAA Certified UAS (Drone) Remote Pilot, and loves using his skills to create content that helps get businesses off the ground. You can learn more about using drones for business at http://drones.doubleimedia.com/

I had a great time teaching everyone how to make web pages at Innovate New Albany today!
Looking for and finding a great job is something that is important to everyone, especially in the ever-changing workplace of our modern world. Technology is constantly changing how we do our jobs and how we find new jobs. In the globally connected online environment of today’s marketplace, it’s important to consider how new technology has impacted traditional methods of application for new positions.

·         Cover letters are anachronisms

Cover letters are based on the idea that you can write an essay to explain how you’re the perfect choice for the position, and how it fits into your life/career plan. The truth is that in our current economic environment, fewer and fewer people have long-term career themes, and people increasingly desire their lives not to be defined by their career.

With this in mind, the idea of trying to convince an employer that the position is part of your life plan is a bit silly. People just need jobs to earn money, and preferably ones that don’t make them hate their lives. Unless the employer is completely delusional, they don’t expect you to dedicate your whole life to the position. There’s no need to try to convince them that you will.

Additionally, thanks to the internet, job postings can reach hundreds of thousands of people quickly, and there can easily be thousands of applications for a single job. Due to the sheer volume of applications, the chances of a cover letter being read by an HR or hiring manager are slim to none. They are far too busy doing their jobs to read the cover letters of all the applicants. Unless absolutely required for the application process, don’t waste your time.  

·         Resumes are just note cards, the format is irrelevant as long as it is neat and professional

Many services are available to help you have the best possible resume, and many people talk about resume writing strategies to basically optimize them for HR system SEO. The truth is that if you are applying for a position with enough applicants that SEO is a factor, then your chances of being considered are remote. It also means that the position is easily replaceable. You don’t want that job.

Resumes are just note cards with brief highlights of your job experience. As long as your resume is neat, professional, and clearly provides your contact info, it’s good enough. Don’t waste your time or money trying to tweak it for SEO.

A well put-together Linkedin profile and some in-person networking activities will do FAR more for your job seeking efforts.

·         NEITHER a cover letter nor a resume will get you a job

Nobody is ever hired based solely on the merits of their cover letter and resume.

It is the relationship that you form during the interviewing process and how you present yourself and your skills and accomplishments that get you the job, not the resume format or cover letter explanation.

The sheer volume of applications made possible by technology highlights the fact that networking and relationship building are more important than ever.

·         People naturally favor people they know

When people need to fill a position, the first thing they will do is ask themselves and their peers, “Is there anyone that we know that we would like to see in this position?”

Even if you’re just acquainted with the hiring manager or recruiter, you have a huge advantage over the sea of unknowns that are being considered (as long as your skill and ability are proficient for the position). 

·         The best jobs are always found through relationships, and are won with the same          

The most important and most rewarding positions are never staffed from a cattle call of talents.

Even for the less-important mass-staffed positions that are, when the interviewing process reaches the actual in-person interview phase, the applicants with the best ability to present their past work history in a rich and easily accessible format (Linkedin) and the ability to quickly form a connection or rapport with the HR and hiring managers will have a huge advantage.

Networking and relationship building skills are what set applicants apart in these situations, so if you want an advantage over other applicants, don’t spend your time making a pretty resume.

Work on your presentation skills, your interviewing skills, your communication skills, and anything else that can help you actually form a relationship with the people involved in the process.

Remember, it’s not the company that’s choosing you for the job, it’s the people who are interviewing you that will decide if they believe that you can be a capable partner so that together you can both achieve mutual success.

In the groups on Linkedin, websites, facebook, and many other places, there is a constant string of articles and posts like the below:

“What is the one thing you need to be a successful entrepreneur?”

“What is the single most important trait for a leader?”

“What is the one most important thing I need to be successful?”

Any leader, business owner, artist, or anyone skilled at their profession can tell you these are silly questions.

People are complex. Success is complex. Life is complex. EVERYTHING is complex. This can be terrifying to many people, and it can be comforting to look for some idea that simplifies the limitless choices we’re faced with every day. People ask these questions because they’re looking for direction and they’re seeking clarity.

No one job, no one trait, no one relationship, no one value, no one anything is going to snap your life into place, connect all the dots, and make everything make sense, and run smoothly.

Stop looking for one thing, and start looking for the next thing.

Most achievements have no single gargantuan step. They are the culmination of a billion small simple steps. Success is like a beach achieved one grain of sand at a time. Most things in life are simple, but appear complicated because they are made of 8 billion simple tiny parts and pieces. Any ONE thing you look at is going to be just a small piece of anything that you choose to consider.

If you need one idea to hang your hopes on, let it be the fact that there is no one idea, and that’s OK.

Stop wasting your time trying to figure everything out, and focus your energy on figuring out the step in front of you. Set a course, start taking steps, and stop obsessing about if this course is your “one chance” or makes sense as part of your “one path”. If it’s not the right path for you, you’ll figure that out as you go, and then change course.

However, you’ll never figure that out if you don’t start. You’ll never know if this path is the way you’ll discover your dream job or new best friend if you don’t start walking down it. So start walking.

The audio version of my book Networking: Real Partnership Explained is coming soon. Check back for updates.
I've added a list of some of my favorite books. These are books that have been an important part of my leadership journey and have strongly influenced my growth and development. I hope you find them useful and enjoy reading them as much as I have.
My new book about how to network will be released soon. Check back for updates.