Seven years ago today, I made my first-ever post on this blog. It was a selfie of me holding my original DJI Phantom 1. I detailed my flight over a baseball field. I liked flying there because I could practice. There were few obstacles in the way there, so it was good for an ultra-beginner to practice.
As I got better, I started intentionally flying in more challenging environments, such as near poles or over water. Of course, I’ve chased down (well, I should say my teammate, Hamilton has chased down) so many drones that have gone rogue.
But more often than not, it went well. I flew drones over everything from gorgeous landscapes to mundane parking lots — and each flight has its own story.
7 years later, and “flying” drones is easier than ever, but it’s not because I’m that much better of a pilot. In just seven short years, drones like the Skydio 2 can fly themselves.
So much has changed in the drone industry since 2013. In that first year, I was concerned that people might think I was spying on them, or that I might crash. With obstacle avoidance through drones like the DJI Mavic Air 2, that’s a non-issue. With greater access to drones like the DJI Mavic Mini (which is just $399), fewer people are worried about drones spying on them.
Instead, the conversation has shifted to complex topics like Remote ID and UTM. Instead, we’re talking about coordinating flight paths to prepare for a world where hundreds of drones in the sky don’t crash into each other.
And of course, the entire world has changed. Most of us are still in some degree of lockdown. No movie theaters, no Disneyland, no sporting events. At Drone Girl HQ in San Francisco, even gyms are still closed (those of you who know me well know that fitness is my other deep passion).
But what’s cool, is that the drone industry is seizing the opportunity. Drone deliveries are getting approved more quickly than ever, such as for trials involving bringing PPE supplies to hospitals.
There’s a shift in focus on climate change, and one company, DroneBase, announced it had raised more than $7 million toward drones for renewable energy. While coronavirus has certainly, and sadly, been tough for many, it’s been an opportunity for others. DroneBase says it has continued to increase sales and set new revenue records in March, April, and May.
That’s not to say coronavirus hasn’t made things tough for many in the drone industry. Small businesses have suffered financially. Parents are suddenly tasked with being teachers, too (at least drones can help!). Conferences have been postponed or cancelled.
In spite of that, I am excited to see what year 7 has in-store. Since lockdown, I’ve already had more time to bring you more thoughtful, in-depth content, like this deep dive into American drone companies. I’ve been able to flesh out product reviews, from the latest drones (like the Mavic Air 2) to drone-adjacent products like DJI Select. I’ve had fun running Instagram contests for you all, and guest appearing on other great drone shows I love and recommend, like Rotor Talk Live, AirVuz After Hours and the Interdrone podast. I’m eager to keep that momentum going.
But just remember, the momentum is fueled by you. The support, the love, the community — that’s what it’s all about. I wouldn’t be here if you weren’t here. So, thank you or giving me this opportunity to share drones with you.
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Thank you, Dronies, for these seven years. Now get out there, and happy flying!