This interview is sponsored by S.V.I.P
& Produced by Robert Molloy
How long does it take to set up and prepare your drone gear?
Generally, it will take anywhere from 2-3 minutes to unpack my bag, assemble the propellers and insert the battery. I then must connect the controller to my iPhone and make sure everything is safe within my surroundings. The app is then launched from my iPhone which will provide me with important information that is constantly analyzing the immediate area. The total time from having it unassembled in the bag to having it in the air is roughly 5 minutes.
What is the highest level of elevation the bot can fly?
According to FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) regulations, 400 FT is the max altitude you can fly your drone. Something a lot of people aren’t aware of, is the fact that it’s 400 FT from where you take off. For example, if you take off from sea level then you can only go 400 FT above the sea level. If you take off from the top of a building that is 200 FT in the air, then you can again go 400 FT, but you will also get the extra 200 FT due to the height of your takeoff location.
More info: https://www.faa.gov/uas/getting_started/
How many different drones have you had over the years?
A good friend of mine had an inexpensive drone that he bought from Best Buy. Upon seeing him flying it around, my interest was sparked instantly. Who wouldn’t want a flying camera? The following day I decided to head to Toys “R” Us and buy the cheapest toy drone that had a camera. I could only fly about 25-50 FT from my controller and the camera was extremely sub par. Living right on the Gulf of Mexico, I quickly broke the limits of the drone and sent two or three drones straight into the ocean. During this time frame is where I learned a lot of the basic controls. I then went a week without having a drone which made me realize how much I missed having one. I decided at that point to take the plunge and buy a real one. I hopped on eBay and ordered a DJI Phantom 3. This is where things started to really take off (no pun intended) and I started to connect with a lot of other drone enthusiasts around the city and even world (thanks to IG). I immersed myself with it, making a self-promise to fly it once a day no matter what (unless weather had a say). I got to the point where the Phantom 3 was limiting me with how far I could go, along with the lack of camera quality . This lead me to my latest and greatest drone, the DJI Phantom 4 Pro. I’ll keep it simple and sweet, this drone is everything I ever hoped for. I continue to grow in the drone community as I try to keep my promise of flying at least once a day.
Companies Worked With…
- Mercedes Benz of Tampa Bay
- Franklin Manor
- Eshenbaugh Land Company
- Game of Zonk
- American Food Distributor
Were you able to capture images during the eclipse?
Due to the angle of the sun at that time, the drone wasn’t being able to capture any eclipse shots. I tried to take some shots with my DSLR, but Tampa unfortunately didn’t get the best view. I wish I was more prepared for the eclipse. With that being said, in the future I will make sure to head to the right location with the appropriate gear to capture it correctly.
What do you do with all the footage that you capture?
Currently, I feel like a rapper who records a track every day, yet hasn’t dropped many mixtapes. Essentially, what I’m saying is, I have hard drives full of clips and shots that I’ve taken over the past few years. Creative people become very particular with what they put out to the world. I focus more on still shots on my IG (Instagram) and haven’t been consistent with dropping videos, but I plan to change that going further.
Where are some of the best locations you’ve flown around?
I will still stick with my go-to answer:
The Bahamas. That water is something out of a movie, that you need to see in person. It’s remarkable how clear and blue the water and how white the sand is. It makes flying a drone, a dream that you never want to wake up from. If I could start my day there every morning, the first thing I would do is fly around those beautiful beaches.
Are you certified and what exactly does that mean?
I’m working on getting certified. There is a part 107 test you are required to take to become licensed and certified by the FAA. The test takes anywhere between 1-2 hours and can be taken are local airports, just depends on your location. For more information visit: https://www.faa.gov/uas/getting_started/fly_for_work_business/becoming_a_pilot/
Zach’s IG- znicolaou
In regards to what comes with being certified, it opens you up to taking on businesses commercially and even flying in restricted areas depending on where and who you are working with. It also allows for you to market yourself to businesses as a certified pilot along with providing you with detailed knowledge about surrounding airspace zones.
“Just to clear up one thing up, whenever I fly commercially for a company, I’m always within a foot or two of my business partner who is certified. As long as he is within a safe distance from me, we can both fly commercially without any issues or breaking any rules.”
What kind of equipment does it take to get to the next level in this industry?
The equipment is a big part in how this all works. I went from flying a toy RC drone to a semiprofessional drone that has a range of almost 5 miles. The technology they’re utilizing in these drones is unreal. The Phantom 4 pro has obstacle avoidance sensors all over it, basically insuring a safe flight with no crashes. I would love to shout out the company DJI as the biggest drone innovator. If you are looking to get into the drone field, check DJI out.
What happens to a drone in a “no-fly zone?”
If you fly in the “no-fly zone” you are risking getting a fine from the FAA and possibly jail time depending on how serious of a no fly zone you are in. The software I use with DJI, shows you where you can’t fly and now will even override your system to stop you from flying into those no fly zones, taking away the temptation we all have. It’s all being done for the greater good, we don’t want to have someone make the front page of the paper for flying into a helicopter because he thought it was time to test the waters with the no fly zone. As a general rule, don’t fly where you shouldn’t. If you’re flying a drone, you should know the basic rules and shouldn’t try to stray around them.
Thank you for the read!