Ah! That good old Electric Fog. If you haven’t looked into the term yet, take a moment, it’s a crazy story of air travel and time travel. Well worth your time, it’s a good story.
Back to our blast from the past look back at my early days of just starting out. We left off with completing the initial Part 107 Exam and passing it.
I was very proud of myself, and so was my family.
It was quite the accomplishment. Just as you should be proud of taking and passing the Part 107 exam as well.
Why? Because it is quite the accomplishment, that’s why.
Some More Personal Background
At the time I took the Part 107 exam – remember this was back in 2016 – I lived in my hometown still.
We had plans to relocate already in motion, a big move to another state. However, finding a new place was proving to be difficult.
At that point we had been looking for a year and so far, no luck. I really felt that it would be some time before we found that one, you know.
In the meantime, I was a freshly licensed Commercial Drone Operator, and I was ready. Or so I thought, anyway.
Honestly, looking back, I’m not sure really what it is that I thought.
After all, having been self-employed through my flooring days and again as an eBay seller, that part was old school for me.
Plus, just having a Part 107 doesn’t mean you have to rush out and do anything at all. There are many Part 107 Pilots who remain flying mainly as hobbyists.
I did have the beginning of an idea, and that was to be a drone service provider, somehow. Just not really planned out all the way.
Drones and their popularity were nearing their peak at this time, with more and more areas opening up to drone use.
The time was ripe for the pickings. Just that one nasty little question, lumbering about in the background. How?
I was under a little pressure. I had convinced my wife that I could provide for us by being a drone pilot. Not the easiest sell either, mind you.
I still, thankfully, did have the eBay store as well as an interested party looking to purchase the operation.
This was all happening in the same time period as planning to move, and I never planned on taking the eBay items with me, in any case.
Could you imagine the cost of moving the whole of a 3400 sqft warehouse? Yikes!
So, yes, the plan was always to liquidate and either start anew after moving or let it go and be that drone pilot thing only.
Personally, I was more focused on the droning side of life now more than ever. I sold my eBay operation.
Selling something like an eBay store is a bit different than selling another type of business.
It mainly of consisted of selling the contents or listings to someone else and then including the listing information, such as the photos and descriptions.
This took care of the things that were listed, and in the end, I did alright, turning a profit on nearly every listed item.
That still left half a warehouse of the items that never made it to being listed though.
Here again, I got lucky and was able to send the bulk of it to auction and once again make a little back on the investment.
I was still located in the town I had grown up in and spent most of my life. I had some connections.
As a flooring installer, I had gotten to know most of the area Realtors and had done some work for them in the past naturally.
As an eBay seller, I attended many auctions of soon-to-be-listed homes. So once again, some connections. There is some benefit to being in one place for so long.
Another avenue I pursued was the area farmers, long before the days of multi-spectral. The focus wasn’t on the fields. No, I focused on the homesteads.
If you’re from a farming area you know every large to small farm has at one point had an aerial Birdseye photo taken by plane of their homestead. This was what I focused on.
How I Made It Work
Here I was. I had managed to find the funding for my new adventurous life as a Drone Service Provider by basically selling off my old life to the highest bidder.
The eBay Store D&Ds Old Is New Boutique was no more. I can say, as an eBay seller, I had a good run.
For nearly ten years, I built a small business by doing something that I found enjoyable.
I was an auction goer when I started out first selling and found a lot of enjoyment in buying old vintage items, so selling on eBay was a natural evolution of that hobby.
Most of the time, what I would list and sell was something I may not have wanted, but someone else might.
It wasn’t until later that attending an auction was solely based on the intent of making a profit from those purchases. That came later as it grew.
Then it grew out of hand, and that is what probably burned me out on it. No, I was relieved and even more, happy to be done with it.
Yet again, a new chapter in my life was beginning. D&Ds Aerial Views was about to become a thing. The question remained to be answered whether it would work out or not.
As mentioned above, I focused on an area that wasn’t being covered much, not at that time anyway. That of farm homesteads.
I also called in any tab that I had owed to me as well. This led to a somewhat stable workload.
I was able to hook up with one of our area’s Coldwell Banker Realty Companies and became their go-to for aerial shots.
It was mostly steady. At this time, realtors were still having a drone pilot for the aerial portion only and another photographer for everything else.
That would change, but back in 2016, that’s how it was still.
One of the other things I did was sign up on as many Drone Pilot Networks as I could find.
This led to not only my first commercial drone shoot but also led to my second as well.
My First Shoot As A 107 Pilot
Now it may come as a surprise that my very first paid job was from a drone pilot services network.
It took some time to sell myself and my services. Selling on eBay was very informal.
Selling a new and unproven service, well, that is different, and boy, was I rusty at it.
One of the issues back then was no one knew enough about drones to know if they could use drones or not.
So, you had to really sell your services as something they not only did need but couldn’t live without.
Even realtors back than weren’t totally convinced yet that paying for aerial photos or video was needed to sell a property.
Yeah, my first paid job as a Part 107 UAS Commercial Pilot was for Dronebase, now going by the name Zeitview. It was my local IHOP.
I remember the nervousness I felt shooting that one, hands shaking so much it was hard to maintain a steady flight.
After all, it was technically my first commercial shoot. It was in a busy area with an airport 3 miles away and a cell tower.
This was also the transition period before LAANC was put into place. Luckily for me, that airport was un-towered, and I knew some of the people over there anyway.
Once again, the benefits of a small town and living there one’s whole life.
So, I did call them directly and informed them of the flight. The shoot went fine, and I didn’t fly right into the poorly located cell tower. It was right in my line of flight for the 100ft. shots.
I went home and uploaded everything, and before you knew it, was told, “Great job, you completed a mission.” The pursuit of a Droning Life had officially begun.
My second job came from the same place, Dronebase. It was a Walgreens in a community a few miles away in another town.
My Second Shoot as a 107 Pilot
This job didn’t go as well as the first, which was a one-and-done. No, this one I had to do twice.
It was turned down after the first shoot and had to be reshot. I point it out, as it was very discouraging at the time, and I admit I was pretty upset by it.
The reason it was turned down was that the shots were over-exposed. And they were.
Looking at them now, yeah, they were. Looking at it then, I was just upset that my work was turned away. How could they do that! What were they thinking!
All the while, I was not doing the one thing I should have been doing, accepting that those photos were over-exposed and it was my fault.
After all, I was the one at the controls, and yes, I had set the camera settings wrong.
What I learned from that was valuable, though. Don’t try and set up the camera while standing in direct sunlight. Find some shade.
The problem behind the over-exposure was me compensating in the image for not having a good view in the viewer, which at that time was a cell phone.
I should have adjusted the brightness on the device, not in the image itself. Many of you just had a good old belly laugh, as you’ve done this as well.
Or you’re saying to yourself, “Well, duh! Everyone knows that.” The thing is, we didn’t, not then. We were all learning as we went in those days.
Now before we go on, let’s talk about re-shoots. As you can see, I got my first one out of the way early. They’re going to happen.
That’s just a fact, whether it’s a user error like my first re-shoot was.
Or mechanical error or whatever the reason may be. You will have it come up where a client asks that the work be redone or that you re-shoot it.
This can happen for reasons beyond your control even. My advice is don’t beat yourself up over it. I know I did!
I poured over each and every picture asking if it was overexposed or not and why, while being blind to the very fact that, yes, they were.
This made the re-shoot much worse than it needed to be. I was still nervous flying in business areas.
To that date, most of my flying had been in the middle of nowhere.
Add to that second-guessing every camera setting and position stacked upon all the rest.
I was a wreck on that second flight, and for no reason other than the stress I created in my own mind.
Here’s one of the shots form the first shoot.
You can see it is indeed a bit overexposed, unlike the two other shots that were accepted. To add to that, there’s simply just way too much horizon.
Of course, back then, we were all just learning, and the sliver of horizon or small horizon line had yet to become standard.
The thing about making a mistake is that you learn from it and don’t continue to make the same mistakes over and over again.
If you dwell, then they have more of an effect on you than they would have otherwise.
Fly Safe, Fly Always, Always Fly Safe!