by Amie Rodgers
Originally developed for military purposes, the unmanned aircraft system, commonly known as a drone, is an aircraft without a human pilot aboard. They got their start doing jobs that were considered too dull, dirty, or dangerous for humans, but today their use is expanding in commercial, scientific, recreational, agricultural, and other applications, such as policing and surveillance, aerial photography, agriculture and even drone racing. Civilian drones now vastly outnumber military drones, with estimates of over a million sold by 2015.
Like most new technology, UAS or drones have brought up a lot of interesting questions when it comes to privacy and safe operating procedure. Although anyone can buy and fly this technology, you have to make your intentions clear because national air space is regulated by the FAA. In other words, you can’t fly a drone in any professional capacity without working with the FAA and as one might expect, it is a process. “You can buy a drone for your kid at Walmart and as long as you register it as a hobby, you’re okay. The minute you try to use it for any commercial application, the FAA can get involved. If you’re not FAA certified and they find out about it, you can get fined a substantial amount of money,” notes Scott Stiles, co-owner of All In Aerial Solutions.
The legality of flying an unmanned aircraft system is a subject Scott and his business partner Wayne “WD” Quimby have become very familiar with. In order to open their business, they have had to jump through a number of hoops including passing the test for a pilot’s license.
“When the drones hit the market, especially on the commercial end, the FAA had no clue what to do with them. At first, they required applying for a certain exemption and being a licensed pilot. The drone industry decided this was an excessive requirement so they proposed Part 107, which states that you don’t have to have a pilot’s license, but you still have to pass the pilot’s test. Just the study guide alone is around a hundred pages and the aeronautical handbook is also a bit of light reading at 700 pages,” laughs Scott, “We both passed and have literally jumped through every government hoop and red tape and road block… it has been a process.”
What inspired these two local guys to take on such an endeavor? According to Scott, the story starts with WD and his brainchild. “We work together and were driving between job sites one day when he asked me what I thought of starting an aerial photography business. The more we talked about it and researched it, the more we thought it was possible. Now, we are far too committed to stop so we are as our company name implies, ‘All In,’” he laughs, “We provide aerial photography and videography. We offer progressional photos of construction sites, fly over videos, family photos, aerial footage of events like parades and sports games, 3D models for real estate development and aerial mapping and surveying for construction. With aerial surveying, we can set control points and fly the job site before any ground is broke. What it would take a traditional surveying crew a week to do, we can do in a day. We collect all the data and take it to the engineering firm so they can figure out cuts and fills, quantities, all of it. We can do volume measurements on stockpiles and fly over fields and golf courses to assess maintenance and watering needs. We are available to assist with search and rescue and disasters. There are a number of industries that can benefit from our services and we haven’t even scratched the surface yet. We believe the future of our company lies in utilities inspections: power lines, cell phone towers, smoke stacks, bridges… places that can be dangerous to send a person. Deploying a drone can also do many hours worth of work in a matter of minutes without putting anyone at risk of injury.”
Utilizing their DJI Inspire 1 Pro, Scott and WD can quickly capture stills and video real time from just about anywhere up to 400 feet in the air. “To an extent, a drone is a remote controlled camera. The drone itself is just a platform to get the high quality camera in the air. It requires someone to fly the drone and someone to operate the camera. The images we provide are extremely high quality,” says Scott, “The convenience factor of this technology is huge. We can view the images real time and show you everything that the drone sees at that moment. We can also do HD live streaming and other pretty incredible stuff. We are always available to provide an estimate on a project based on what the customers’ needs are.”
Starting a business hasn’t been easy, but Scott and WD have met the challenges head on with the help of Northland Pioneer College’s Small Business Development Center.
“Without the SBDC, we wouldn’t be in business. When I met with them, I gave them the reader’s digest version of what we wanted to do and they walked us through every step of everything we needed to do. They are an absolute wealth of knowledge. I have already recommended them to many others. They are fantastic,” smiles Scott, “We would be no where close to where we are now without them. From every aspect of starting a business to preparing you to stand up in front of a potential investor, they had answers day and night. They are awesome.”
Are you thinking of starting a business or need help with your existing business? Free help is available by contacting NPC’s Small Business Development Center. For more information, please call (928) 532-6170 or visit www.npc.edu/sbdc.