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Hi there, I’m another lady from California. I recently found your website since I was searching for some drone tips and tricks for photography. I recently got a phantom vision 2 plus as a present. For a year already, I was interested in the whole drone world but haven’t really done anything. Now that I actually have the phantom, I was wondering what kind of general advice you would give to newbies that want to get more into the field? Or advice that you would have given yourself if you could go back in time. I thought it would be cool doing it as a job somehow. I tried searching for UAV classes or whatnot but since I live in California, I didn’t find anything that will get me a certificate for commercial use.
Welcome to the drone industry, and thanks for the questions! We are lucky to have another lady pilot in California.
As far as general advice for newbies in drones: practice! They aren’t hard to fly once you get the hang of it…but you must get the hang of it.
I’ve seen newbies fly their $1000+ drones into pools. I crashed my first drone (a 1 pound, palm-sized drone) onto a roof; luckily my friend climbed up the wall and rescued it for me. I’ve heard stories of drones stuck in 50 foot tall trees. Long story short: the horror stories are real. But you can avoid them! Start by practicing in a big open field! If your neighborhood has a baseball diamond or large field, go there!
Make sure you feel comfortable flying all directions, turning all angles, flying nose in, nose away, etc. Once you feel confident — bring obstacles into the mix. Try to turn around a tree or between a bridge (with no bystanders present!).
There are some classes out there, so you’ll have to Google to see if your area has one. Though, they often are a full-time commitment and cost hundreds or thousands of dollars.
If you want to go the more casual route, check out an online drone program, such as through Udemy. It’s a lot cheaper than an in-person class and is suited for someone who is new to drones.
Honestly, I never took any flying lessons, I just practiced and learned from others I met through meetups. Check out MeetUp.com to see if there is a drone meet up in your area! I started seriously flying in Southern California. Some of the nicest guys I’ve ever met in drones were through the LA/OC Drone User Group!
As far as getting a certificate for commercial use, that really doesn’t exist yet. You can apply for a Section 333 Exemption, but that’s technically an exemption from the FAA, as opposed to certification.
There are tons of drone companies hiring in all fields — filmmaking, agriculture, software, hardware, search and rescue.
Start flying and see where that takes you! Maybe by the time you feel confident to fly commercially, the FAA will have some type of certification program in place!