A variety of drone, UAV, UAS companies in Washington state are working on client projects. Here’s what they are working on, and what type of training they recommend to stay on-top of changing industry trends.
Inland Northwest Drones, Tim Liese, owner How long in business? 2 years Where: Spokane-based, works around the country Areas of specialty/focus? Tend to work with two main markets, one is filming for television and film and real estate. Why did you get into this business? Went to USC school of cinematic arts, does feature films. Started working with National Geographic, and they needed a drone operator. Almost overnight was thrown into this business. Became certified and has a variety of customers. Contracts all over including Los Angeles and Spokane. Where are you seeing the greatest demand? Real Estate is really booming right now. Supply is down, but agents want the best media available. It is becoming less expensive to add drone photography. Just about everything over $300,000 uses drones. Can do both photography of site as well as drone photography; focus is on aerial photography. Can work in conjunction with real estate photographers. What is something most people don’t know about the work that you do? The biggest thing is how scalable it is – we can do very quick, easy shoots, or advanced optics. There’s a big difference between a quick shoot for a few hundred dollars or doing editing and really telling a story – it depends on what clients are looking for. What kind of training could someone take in order to do this type of work? FAA certification – knowledge-based test; it is a difficult but fair test. There are various classes that can help with certification. Going to trade shows helps; talking to clients; backing up your work. Did a shoot in the middle of wildfires; the biggest component is being skilled at your work. I manage two processes – safety in flight and photography. Does get calls for agricultural photography – wheat farmers in inland northwest, 2D photos and 3D maps can be done to check health of the fields. You can program in shape, slope, size of fields to get aerial data. You can tell from color gradients what is needed. It is a special skill to learn how to read the data, the interpretation of the data is usually left to the client.
RykaUAS, Josh Hawes, COO How long in business? Ryka Consulting (14 years) RykaUAS 5 years Areas of specialty/focus? Ryka specializes in aerial surveying and data processing for the telecommunication, construction, and environmental industries Why did you get into this business? We wanted to expand our services and help solve problems for our existing telecom clients as well as look at other verticals where we thought we could add value. Where are you seeing the greatest demand? We are seeing demand in the telecom industry but we’d like to see a broader and deeper adoption here and elsewhere. What is something most people don’t know about the work that you do? It has taken a tremendous R&D effort to break into most of the arenas we work within. You really can’t expect to survive as a service provider by only being a subject matter expert in UAS. What kind of training could someone take in order to do this type of work? I think having a blend of flight training and operations with a tremendous focus on mapping and GIS systems is important to be well rounded. Also, having experience with multiple platforms and multi-rotor and fixed wing certainly makes you more valuable. After that a strong internship is certainly important to apply and practice these skills in a real world environment. We think the program Dr. Patrick Ford leads at Big Bend CC or a comparable program are the perfect blend of the field and systems work needed. Where does most of your work occur (geographically)? We primarily worked within the West and Pacific Northwest, although we’ve traveled well beyond this for individual projects.