Drones are amazingly convenient and can do much more than traditional cameras. So, it is no wonder that you might find yourself in need of one! However, if you do not have the necessary skill and papers to fly a drone yourself, you might find yourself looking for a drone pilot. Whether you are hiring a drone pilot for simple sightseeing or commercial purposes, picking out the best pilot for you and your needs is essential. Yet, what should you pay attention to when hiring a drone pilot? What are the questions you should consider? You don’t need to wonder about this anymore, since we are here to help with our guide on things to have in mind when hiring a drone pilot!
Always check if the pilot is licensed!
Whether you are hiring a pilot for viewing pleasure or business, you must make sure they are licensed, doubly so if you are planning to use the footage or pictures for a business venture. Ever since using drones has become popular, for-hire drone pilots must obtain the Part 107 license to legally offer their services. If the pilot does not have a license, you could end up in serious trouble with local law enforcement. In addition, they will probably not have the skill level that would satisfy your demands as their employer. It is particularly important that the pilot has all the documentation they need if you want to fly a drone safely in an urban area. Overall, it is always best to double-check their credentials and make sure they are up to date.
Does the pilot have enough experience to help you?
When you have ascertained that the pilot is qualified enough to obtain a license, the next step is ensuring that they are the right choice for you. Now, there are many aspects of ‘experience’ that matter when hiring a pilot. First and foremost is their skill with flying a drone. If they are not skilled enough, yet you want them to fly a drone in complex terrain or heavy weather conditions, the drone might get damaged. Furthermore, the chance of an accident involving and harming a person grows exponentially. The second concern is their skill with the camera. Since they would be in charge of taking the shots, you will need to look into their artistic ability !
Check the pilot’s portfolio!
We’ve mentioned the pilot’s artistic ability. In fact, drone pilots who work commercially often double as photographers or camera operators. After all, they will be the ones adjusting the angle, accounting for the light, and setting up the ambiance all on their own. Therefore, if you are going to rely on their ability to take photos and recordings that will satisfy you, you should check their portfolio! Every serious artist has one. It is a collection containing most of the artist’s previous work, particularly ones they are proud of. You can consider it a sample of what you can expect if you choose to work with the pilot in question. Artists can often be rather specialized, so if you want a photographer who knows how to take excellent landscape photos, for example, make sure their portfolio has them.
Does the pilot have liability insurance?
It is not absolutely required for the pilot to have insurance, but it is preferable. No matter how skilled a pilot is, and no matter how carefully you follow the rules, an accident can always happen. Keep in mind that you should not dismiss a pilot immediately if they don’t have current insurance. Purchasing on-demand drone insurance is possible, and some pilots will take the initiative to take it out only if specifically requested by their employer.
Is the pilot available?
If you need a pilot for more extended periods for a project you are working on, availability might become an issue. Typically speaking, drone pilots work on commission which means one-time hires, at least in a short timeframe. Trying to occupy their time for longer can be tricky. They might’ve already made prior arrangements, and that’s not even taking into account the competition over a good pilot’s time. If you are working in remote areas, you will face another issue: few or no local drone pilots. In such a case, you will likely have to hire a pilot from a larger city. This means you will have to ask them to temporarily move to the shooting location. When assisting an employee with a move, you should make sure to provide a relocation package and other help they might require to make the move smooth and stress-free.
Is the pilot aware of the regulations and restrictions of the area you will be flying in?
It is admittedly not as important for a pilot to be perfectly informed about an area if you are sightseeing. Their experience will typically fill in any gaps, and the quality of your outing will not be affected. However, when it comes to a professional undertaking, the situation is different. You must make sure to give the pilot a chance to acquaint themselves with the local regulations, restrictions, and scenery. No matter how generally experienced and recommended a pilot is, you want to make sure they are familiar with the area you will be working in. Only in this way can the quality of your work be top-notch. You will also know which areas you can freely record in. After all, taking photos or videos in certain areas can trigger privacy concerns, and you do not want to deal with that.
At the end of the day, what you need to do is find the right pilot for your needs. If you are simply going on a sightseeing tour, your demands will naturally be a little less stringent than if you are hiring a drone pilot for commercial work. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should not ask for any qualification on the part of the pilot! Their experience with both flying their drone and the area you will be visiting are both important factors. They will affect the quality of your outing. So, do not compromise, but do not be overly nitpicky either! Sometimes, all you need to have fun is a single drone and a person who knows how to fly it.