AUVSI Announces Trusted Operator Program to Certify Drone Schools Without FAA Approval.

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2018 has become a pivotal point for the drone market as a whole. The FAA is announcing steps for a remote ID system to allow more operations including Amazon Package Delivery and more autonomous operations. In addition, they announced more systems to create efficiencies within the drone ecosystem to make acquiring exemptions and authorizations easier.  The FAA has made a clear pivot from a legislative policy that can be described as quixotic at best, to making substantial changes and accepting input. More importantly, they've begun to seek input from industry advocates large AND SMALL (FINALLY!). As this begins, many larger industry players continue to take advantage of the FAA's unpreparedness for the influx of new pilots and attempt to implement plans that affect pilots without credibility, authority, or legitimacy. Today, we learned about the newest influx of such plans. 

Yesterday, AUVSI anounced their most recent endevour, the TOPS program run by the Remote Pilots Council. This program is intended to create a certification program for drone schools to qualify and vet pilots. 

As Jim Cramer would say, "The bulls make money, the bears make money but the pigs get slaughtered."  In other words, if you plan, you can make money on peaks and dips.  If you get greedy and become weak to your emotions, you will fail and you will fail BADLY.  This TOPS program is the quintessential guide to greed by creating a program that charges drone schools to vet pilots to a standard created by individuals who don't fly drones for a living. 

When AUVSI announced its recent TOPS program, I began to shake my head in hesitation.  Before we discuss the very real problems with this program, AUVSI has otherwise been the best conference for drones of 2018, and we have 4 amazing podcasts coming out to demonstrate all the amazing content and players in the industry. 

When AUVSI announced the program at the show,  they had a bunch of manned aviation trainers on stage talking about how "more pilots needed to become 107." Many drone pilots began to look at each other with extreme confusion. Excuse me? There have been over 75,000 licensed pilots in the last 2 years. The absolute fastest adoption of a pilot certificate since the FAA's founding in 1958. What were these guys thinking on stage? 

Yet this group of manned aviation trainers, was the group representing the TOPS program as the "early adopters..." 

What is the TOPS program? Here's the slideshow from the presentation.  According to AUVSI the program is "critical for remote pilots and training organizations to demonstrate trust, reliability, safety and professionalism." 

The ideology to create a program for certifying and vetting pilots is fantastic. Albeit the ideology is flawed in the fact that the FAA, a government institution who oversees aviation, should be the SOLE SOURCE TO CREATE some sort of practical test for drone pilots to create a safer environment. 

It is a flawed mentality to have any 3rd party, private vendor, or association being funded by a private enterprise to create a program to legitimize all the drone schools in the country. O yeah, and you can't stop youtubers either. 

AUVSI's intentions were mostly good, although I wish Drone U could have had a word in the process.  Moreover, AUVSI plans to charge up to $12,000 for drone schools to certify students. They offer 3 levels of certification to teach students. How is a private company going to tell me how to teach students WHEN THEY DON'T FLY. 

Let's get this straight: a governing body of geriatric (yeah i said it) policymakers who have little to no experience-based knowledge are creating rules as a private entity to charge pilots for training to be "trusted?" 

So if i have to pay to be trusted.  Just come to the house I'll buy you coffee and hand you a few hundo's and well call it day? 

To make matters worse (unless you're lucky enough to be one of the big players), the Remote Pilot Council who oversees the TOPS program tried to compare the system they intend to create to... hamburgers?!? 

Essentially, AUVSI has compared the drone pilot to the hamburger. Yes, a F***** hamburger. I get it guys, You really do see us all as cows.  I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree in manned aviation. We're already treated like cows on planes and its backfiring. United recently lost $1 Billion dollars in market cap in one day, after a passenger was dragged off a plane. 

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AUVSI and the TOPS program's metaphorical hamburger isn't lost on me. They're trying to say we need a system which is more systematic and normalized: like a hamburger. That's fantastic, but AUVSI must have never read the book Toxin.  (Nor eaten a quesadilla burger with green chile) 

If meat is metaphorical professionalism, then we're in trouble! It's your metaphor, so let's extend it beyond the bun to the entire burger joint? If we want to create a system of drone pilots who operate in a specific manner for the IMAGE and PERCEPTION of safety, we would create McDonald's.

McDonald's has always delivered a half-assed product, that, if left on the street, will still be edible in a year!  McDonalds created a system to provide the same product to millions of people across the United States, and later the world.  IF you've ever read the HBR studies on Starbucks and other food processors, you'd come away with one robust conclusion: consistency, not quality sells.. Starbucks buys some of the cheapest coffee beans on the planet simply because they can order enough to have a predictably uniform tastes across the brand as a whole. Consistency. Quality though may only be found at your local Cuban coffee shop. (I LOVE CUBAN COFFEE) 

So if the meat represents professionalism then what about all the meat manufacturers that have killed thousands of people from e-coli and contaminated meat.  Doesn't anymore remember the book The Jungle? 

The FDA was famously created after the Harvey Wiley read the book and then later advocated for the formation of the government entity. See story here. 

Look, if I want a hamburger (which is rare) I'm going to In and Out. A burger joint with their own standards that are HIGH AND ABOVE THE COMPETITION. There will not be a 3rd party association trying to tell them how to run things. They focused on quality and service before expanding into hundreds of stores across the country. They are the only burger joint who doesn't freeze the meat and which is why they haven't expanded across the country yet. 

This new TOPS system audits drone training companies in a means to audit drone pilots. They send a 3rd party company to come out and audit the training companies asking for their syllabuses and course materials. Unfortunately, I will never allow that as a company. Nor would In & Out give away their famous special sauce. (The animal sauce you east coasties know nothing about) 

Drone U has more trademarks and patents for training exercises in process than i can shake a stick at. WE take SERIOUS pride in our flight exercises and system of training that has been developed over the past 6 years.

We actually want the industry to grow, we want people to fly safe and we care about the responsibility of pilots as it will have a direct correlation to the industry. We're not just in it to create hype, lie and make money Mark Cuban. 

We will never release our exercises that have been proven to teach people to MASTER flight, gain confidence and limit risk. 

While AUVSI has stellar intentions to create a system to vet pilots, One the system should be made by the most prestigious and QUALIFIED pilots with direction from the Federal Aviation Administration....... Not a bunch of pencil pushers from large manned aviation firms who will create old style rules that will garnish ZERO validity. 

Secondly, they should step aside and let the FAA handle a practical licensure test. I've always advocated for one and will continue to do so. IN FACT, i'm currently developing a practical test that any person could fly and take anywhere in the country, other than controlled airspace. 

Thirdly, why would you create a system to vet pilots via a drone school? A drone pilot can still act like a saint for 1 day at a drone school then run out and do whatever they want. The system is flawed from its inception. 

It's evident that the FAA is overwhelmed in taking on UAS in the aviation community. As they have officially come out and asked for help from the industry advocates and pilots alike.  Large market cap aviation players continue to take advantage of this government agency while borderline breaking federal rules. 

To succinctly summarize the Tops program, how can you build trust in a community when it is predicated on a pay to play system? How can you create a system to vet pilots when you're vetting the trainers, not the pilots?

How can you create a legitimate system to vet pilots when you're not the Federal Aviation Administration. 

I say we have a fly off, whoever flies the obstacle course the fastest (and safest) can write the rules for the drone school certification. The person who races also has to be an executive in the company... sorry you're not hiring Shaun Taylor. 

But until the FAA comes out with Legal guidelines on drone schools, we'll continue to make a POSITIVE impact on the industry by teaching exercises and systems that have been proven to work via data. 

Maybe these old geriatrics should google "data-based decisions," or read the book Everyone Lies, How Data & The internet can tell us who we really are."

Until then, we ask AUVSI to open the door to all drone training companies to discuss this certification process, otherwise we'll be reviewing the Sherman Act again. IN addition, we ask the FAA to make a statement that they are the sole authority of the airpsace in the United States.   

Most people should know that, if they've taken the 107 test! 

 

Written by Paul Alexander Aitken, Owner & Chief Pilot of Drone U. http://droneu.education

 

FAA Waiver Guide: Increasing your weak chances of acquiring a waiver for Drone Operations.

Recently I attended the FAA's UAV Symposium in Baltimore, Maryland. The purpose of the conference is to enlighten the crowd with the FAA's regulatory plans for drones in the upcoming future. While many drone pilots are excited that the FAA is open and willing to listen, the data tends to show something totally different. 

In the world of drones, if a drone pilot wishes to fly at night, fly over people or wishes to fly from a moving vehicle (in a city), they must apply for a waiver from Part 107.  Part 107 allows for significant drone operations but falls short of letting the drone industry truly take flight. 

My argument can be simply made with the lack of BVLOS operations in the drone world. BVLOS operations simply state that a drone can be flown beyond visual line of sight. That may seem worrisome to most but believe it or not, the definition of line of sight is rather vague.  A pilot must be able to see the drone without aid from ancillary equipment such as glasses or binoculars. 

BVLOS operations would have a magnitude of scale effect on the drone industry and business as a whole if the FAA would simply come up with a system to allow BVLOS operations. Let's say they would allow drone pilots to fly within 3 miles of their current position and allow those operations if certain safety protocols were met. Well so far, the chances of that happening are about less than 1%. The data actually shows your chances of this happening are indeed 1%. 

Why is this so important? Well, there are plenty of federal contracts and private businesses that wish to take advantage of drone operations, but if the operation must stay within 2250 feet of the operator... it makes business impossible.

Here is the example: If Drone U wanted to map the shoreline of South Carolina, we would essentially have to pack up and move my operations every 2250 feet.  Making our operation extremely time-consuming as we would have to move our base station every quarter hour, making our operations inefficient and really lose the value of drone operations as a whole. 

Let's say we wanted to fly Lidar and map the beach line, I would have to move about every 12 minutes. This would make the operation burdensome and almost impossible to compete with a helicopter. It is currently possible for Lidar to fly up to an hour at a time, which could cover a few miles, up to ten dependent on weather conditions. This BVLOS operation would make the Drone guys a cost-effective solution in comparison to a helicopter. Helicopters provide less accurate data without ground control points to reference gps accuracy.  So truly the best data even comes from UAV's at this point... and yet we cannot legally fly these missions or have drone delivery. 

Additionally, without waivers,  operations like Amazon's Drone delivery or UPS drone delivery cannot happen until BVLOS operational waivers become systematized. Then smaller operations and larger operations could acquire operations and open up the world to autonomous applications that would serve thousands of businesses across the globe.

Construction companies, engineering firms, surveyors, distributors, service businesses and so many more would truly be able to offer more cost-effective solutions to everyday business problems. 

So, from BVLOS operations to nighttime operations and flight over people, what are you actual chances of getting an FAA waiver?   4%

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Thanks to the help of Mark Williams, we took the data from the FAA symposium: (See next image) and put all the data into one easy to read pdf. 

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We will be testing new systems to acquire BVLOS waivers in the hope we can help the FAA figure out a system for granting these waivers. 

 

-Paul 

FAA LAANC System: When will your airport be included in the Instant Airspace Authorization System?

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Ladies and Gentlemen, 

  The wait is finally over, It looks like the FAA is finally getting their act together and including more than 500 new airports in the new LAANC system. This is the system where you can acquire near real time airspace authorizations to fly in controlled airspace. 

Wondering which airports will be including and when? Find out here:  

Wondering how you can acquire instantaneous airspace authorizations? There are currently 4 providers yet we at Drone U recommend Skyward.  Find out how to use that system here: 

Aerial Photographer's Holiday Gift Guide

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The Annual Camera, Drone, Technology Gift Guide.

It's that time of year again, The Holiday Season! It's the time to show your love to that special someone. Does your special someone love Drones, Photography, Technology, Cameras, Camera accessories or are they just a little NERDY?  Then you're in the right place, and they'll thank you for getting a gift from this guide. This guide provides the "Right" accessories for the newest cameras and drones and is stuff I use specifically for my drone videography business. 

Before you go any further, if you know a drone pilot who needs extremely specific gear to his drone business, I would HIGHLY recommend checking out the Ultimate Drone Pilot Field Kit. This page has mobile office gear (like a cell phone signal booster) amongst a plethora of other items and accessories. 

It's 2017, almost 2018, and the right accessories are crucial for photographers. If you buy the wrong SD card, you're just giving that loved one more work to return the card and get a proper sd card. This accessory list is made by a photographer/drone pilot and for other photographers. Let me know if you have any suggestions. 

Technology Gifts for Anyone: 

1. Cable Organizer. Need to organize those charging cables? Have cords running all over your purse, backpack or murse? Then you need this Cord Organizer that will make your life a lot easier. 

2. Battery. Notice your iPhone battery needs a constant charger? Maybe you need a longer battery for a Go Pro, or you simply need to charge miscellaneous items on-the-go. This is the best battery I've found and even gave them to my groomsmen. They're cheap and can charge your iPhone almost 20 times before dying. 

3. External Hard Drives help store extra data for your media needs, but what if you had a hard drive that could actually speed up video editing? Look no further, Samsung recently dropped the price on their SSD external hard drives

4. Touch sensitive Gloves help keep those bear claws warm while still being able to use your touchscreen electronics. A must for anyone. 

5. GPS Tracker. Ever tend to lose those most precious technology gifts? Then give your friends something they'll love in the most dire times... A way to find their technology gear when they lose it. That's Tile, its small and is a great tool for finding lost keys, cameras or other sacred items. 

 

Technology Gifts for Photographers and Videographers.

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1. Motorized Camera Slider. Every photographer or videographer could up their game if they had a smooth and quiet Motorized Camera Slider. It's taken me almost a year to try out different camera sliders that are smooth, work for video or photos can handle big cameras and yet are flexible enough to travel with. This camera slider is the best you can buy for the money, and I highly recommend it. 

2. Tripod Head. With any good slider, you need a good tripod head to adjust the camera direction and tilt. 

3. Strong Tripod. With any good Motorized Camera Slider and Tripod Head, you'll need a good TRIPOD to actually hold up the slider. You need a very sturdy tripod, where the head can actually be taken off and directly mount the slider so the slider doesn't shift in position. 

4. Flex Tripod. Videographers are always trying to put cameras in wierd places, help them achieve a new perspective with this flexible small tripod by Joby, called the Gorilla Pod. In addition, for the selfie lovers out there, you'll love the Benro Mini-Tripod because it comes with a cellphone adapter! Leave the tripod, with a timed shot, and get epic couples selfies! 

5. Inverter. Help them charge their batteries on-the-go without ruining their vehicles. Inverters that are not pure sign wave will eventually kill your car battery and alternator. So make sure to get the right inverter

Ultimate Drone Pilot Gift Guide

 Mavic Pro Filters

Mavic Pro Filters

1. Filters. Drone Pilots always use filters to achieve the best footage. I would recommend Polar Pro's Cinema Series Nd Filters. A cheap and extremely useful gift for a drone pilot. Make sure to get them the right filters that are made specific to their drones.  Mavic Pro Filters or. Phantom 4 Pro Filters  

 DJI Phantom 4 Pro Obisidian   

DJI Phantom 4 Pro Obisidian

 

2. New Drone. If you're an incredible person and want to give your special someone a new drone. WE all love you. So here's the best drone money can buy right now. The Phantom 4 Pro Obsidian. Seriously its the best for aerial photography, photogrammetry, and aerial videography.

3. Batteries and Props. IF you can't afford buying someone a new drone (I don't blame you) Then you can at least pick up a spare battery for their phantom drone, or some spare propellers. Pilots are supposed to replace their props every 10 hours according to Drone U.  

  Crystal Sky Monito r (2 Sizes) 

Crystal Sky Monitor (2 Sizes) 

4. Display Monitor.  Pilots always need a good way to see telemetry (flight data) and the image they are shooting. The best monitor on the market (aside from an iphone 7/8/6s) is the Crystal Sky Monitor.  NOT SO FAST! If you buy the monitor...The pilot will also need the mount! 

5. Micro SD CardsNormally, once per holiday season someone will give me an SD card that is literally too slow to actually record footage. Buy them a San Disk Extreme U3 Micro Sd Card. Don't get suckered into best buy or walmart, where cards can literally costs twice as much for the same card. I wrote an article about that. 

6. Hand Warmers. Any pilot who flies in the cold weather understands how impotant it is to keep the bear claws warm. Help them out!

7. Portable Drone Battery Charger. Every drone pilot can find themselves in a situation where they forgot to charge a battery, don't have an inverter or are too far away from their vehicles or an outlet to charge a battery. Give them the gift of Energen A40 Battery Charger to charge in the field. If you go to the myenergen.com website and buy the charger, use discount code droneua40 to save $50 off! 

8. Turn their Passion Into Profit. Every pilot has something to learn, whether its super smooth motion on the sticks, how to map buildings or learn the workflow for editing HDR photos... there is always something. Give them the gift of an annual membership. Drone U offers 26 classes for one low price. You can literally give the gift of knowledge, which they can use to make money and send you gifts! 

9. Aviation Lights.  Drone Pilots love Lume Cube lights, they can strobe with them, or then can light up a building and create amazing photos. Drone U even has a light painting class where students learn to fly lights over a subject to create depth in their images.

10. Landing Pad. Drone Pilots always want to keep their drone cameras free from dust. When they're taking off and landing, a lot of dirt can be kicked up and ruin their drone. Give them a landing pad to protect their drone! 

11. Cell Signal Booster. Help your pilot or photographer stay in touch with a We-Boost Cell Phone signal booster. This has been one of the best purchases i've ever made. I installed it on my 2015 Ford Expedition and it literally gives me cell service where i normally don't have it. It actually works and provides up to a 20x strength signal. 

12. Slow Mo Camera. There is slow motion from a phone (120fps) and then there is slow motion from a Sony RX100m5 which shoots at 960fps. Tell your drone pilot he need to augment his videos with awesome ground video, shot in super slow motion. This is currently my favorite camera. Its great for the whole family and fits in your pocket. It shoots 20mp Photos, 4k video and 120/480/960 fps slow motion. 

13. GPC Cases. Every pilot wants to protect their investment with a case. GPC Cases makes the best drone and camera cases on the market. This Phantom Case is the most popular case they sell, and it also has wheels, making travel easier. The cases are extremely durable and well thought out. They custom cut the foam to fit your drone and all the accessories. I have over 12 GPC cases. Some cases are for carrying batteries on airplanes while traveling (you can't check batteries) and other cases are for my Osmo camera's and bigger drones.  

14. Organization. All videographers need to organize their footage, and there is no better way than using a Slate to mark your footage and record it in the shot. 

15. On Set Storage. I mentioned external hard drives above, but this "Seagate Fly Drive" hard drive actually has a slot to input micro sd cards. That way you can directly transfer files from the SD card to the hard drive. 

16. Livin' the Drone Life Book. Honesty moment, I wrote this book on my experience becoming a drone pilot. This book explains what you need to know to fly well, start a business and navigate the regulatory environment for becoming a drone pilot. I highly recommend it, but don't listen to me.. Listen to the 100+ 5 star reviews. Get it here! 

Guide to The Ultimate Drone Kit. Everything I use as a Drone Pilot.

Drone Accessories, Mobile Office Gadgets, Cases and Camera Accessories. 

Livin’ the Drone Life  and having the title “drone pilot,” often means extreme multi-tasking, long checklists and black cases full of drones accessories necessary to complete the job! As a drone pilot, we tend to travel a lot. If we don't’ have the right accessories, we could lose a job or we could be unable to fix our vehicles.  Whether we need better range for our video feed during a live stream, or you need a better cell signal in the call to communicate with clients. My goal is to have this guide provide guidance on the tools and accessories I use to be a better, more reliable pilot. Often times whenever a new student comes to Drone U or I'm out on a job and a friend shows up.. I get this common question, “What are you using, can i take a picture of your case?”

In this long post you’ll see accessories by drone, what I have in my tool kit in addition to, what I have done to turn my SUV into the mobile office...Without breaking the bank.

If you have any comments or suggestions I welcome them. If you’re interesting in learning more about Drone Training or our workflows, go to http://thedroneu.com

How this is broken down:

I’ll first discuss my drone kits, what drones i take with me, what accessories and why. Then i’ll move onto non-drone related accessories that help my business prosper.  Here is the whole list

Ultimate Drone Kit: Including Drone Accessories, Points of Redundancy, Camera Accessories, and mobile office accessories. 

Whenever I travel to a Drone Job, I always try to consolidate as much as possible while also having the most flexibility. Traveling to a job via airline is completely different than traveling to a job via car. A lot of people think i’m crazy driving 12-16 hours to jobs, but often times I can drive to Los Angeles from Albuquerque faster than most people can fly it...and that’s a 12 hour drive. I won’t go into the reasons why i drive everywhere in the Southwest (beautiful roads, vast landscapes, no traffic and high speed limits).  I’m telling you all of this nitty gritty detail because I tend to drive more than i fly for jobs. Which means this drone kit will be better suited for someone driving. This also means that your drone kit must shrink in size when flying, so not all of this gear will be relevant to everyone.

Why:  I always bring more than one drone, you must have a “risk taker drone,” and you must have a this will never take risks drone. What do i mean? Clearly i’m not talking about flying over the heads of your children, i’m talking about deciding which drone is best for flying through obstacles. You must have a drone that you’re ok with crashing, i honestly believe it will help you become a better pilot. Why? Because if you’re thinking about “what if’s,” while flying, its only a matter of time until you crash. Eliminate the worry and doubt.

Inspire 2 Pro: use it for mapping and most of my missions. Great Basic Sensor (p4p sensor) more opportunity to fly

Phantom 4 Pro: Hands down the best drone for the money and I use it for all my obstacle shots, i call it risk maker! Just kidding, she doesn’t even have a name.

Inspire 1 Pro: use it for zoom and shooting event with a high volume of people. With this drone i can stay far away and zoom in to get the shots i need.

Before you ask what i think the best drone is for what, as of june 2017 this is what i think:

Mavic Pro: Best for travel and is commercially viable. The james bond drones. Really it is the best travel drone ever, seriously hike into the jungle, through it in the air and capture cinematic aerials. Yes i’ve done that.

Inspire 1: Best overall drone period.

GPC Cases:

Why: I think the best thing i’ve ever done in this business is keep my equipment organized and protected by cases. There is only one manufacturer of cases i will use. GPC.

It's simple, the people are amazing, customer service is on point and the people at GPC go so far beyond the other case manufacturers. They think outside of the box and provide exponentially more value in their cases because of the brains behind the design. Let’s take GPC’s osmo case, there are multiple osmo cases but one thing you’ll find in all of them. A stand. Yes, there is a stand for your osmo. So if you need to use your case as a tripod, well they got you covered by simply cutting a space to mount your camera inside the case. ITs truly brilliant and I have used it plenty of times shooting car scenes especially. You get a nice low angle, and if the car hits the case.. WHO CARES. GPC custom cuts all the foam to fit a pilot/videographer’s needs. They are truly the best, i highly recommend to get wheeled cases when possible.

GPC Inspire 2 case: I purchased the landing mode case for two reasons. 1. I hate travel mode. 2. It actually wears out the motor over time and shortens the life span of the drone.
 

GPC Inspire 1 Dual Case: I still take this with me to every training because it literally has a training kit in a case. I still have all my tools, dual monitors, dual remotes, a phantom 4 and accessories with the inspire 1 as well! Truly has everything! (ask for the dual foam)

GPC Phantom 4 Pro case: With wheels. This case can go on a plane, carry your batteries and everything you’ll need for the p4p. Yes I keep a phantom in the GPC i1 case and have another case for teh Phantom 4 PRO.

Mavic GPC Backpack: It's seriously the ultimate backpack for any adventure freak like myself. Whether you’re hiking into the forest or you’re walking down the beach, this thing lets you be mobile while providing eyes in the sky and on the ground.

When traveling on an airline, you must carry on those large batteries. You can do that with a GPC battery case.

My personal backpack: I always carry a dslr with me. You never know when a marketing opportunity is at your doorstep. I also carry a variety of cameras, laptops, cords, extra batteries, charging hubs, lights, grid-it, nd filters, lens clothes, lens cleaning pens.. You name it.. Its in there.

Now, lets dig a little deeper and discuss what I put in these cases. I’m just going to go over general accessories, I tend to move tool kits from one case to another often. I'm normally always carrying a minimum of 3 drones on me. I learned a long time ago in college, that redundancy is everything. You must have a backup if you’re onsite and hours away from a store.

 

Drone Pilot Field Kit of Tools: The paper version is here: 

Range Extender: 

Why: dense neighborhoods rich in wifi and over time the quality degrades of your signal.. This helps out.

Field tool kit: The ultimate set of tools from screw drivers to plastic tools, you can take apart an iphone or build an S1000 with this tool kit. 

ND filters (x4s) Seriously the Secret to Great video. 

For shooting great video, increased contrast and saturation.

Nd filters: (p4p) Again the secret to epic color.

Lens cloth: 

Lens cleaner kit: If you're not cleaning you're lenses, its only a matter of time until you'll regret it. 

Charging hub battery: You can charge a spark on it, your phone over a dozen times, or charge a bluetooth speaker. This is a life saver and a must have for any traveler! 

Grid It cord Organizer: This is the ultimate cord organizer. I've given these as gifts before, they make your backpack organized from the cord frenzy!

Skull Candy Headphones: 

in ear buds to monitor noise levels on camera

ParaCord Braclet: Always useful when needing to tie up product in place when you're shooting it. 

Foil: Because its cheaper than the Russians.

FlySight Black Pearl monitor: I love having a seperate monitor to show directors/DP's/personnel a live feed. It can also double as a monitor if you run a Flir Vue Pro Camera on an Inspire 1. Your second monitor would be the black pearl. RMUS has the best thermal setups for drones. Check them out and tell them Paul from DroneU sent you! 

Crystal Sky Large Monitor (waiting to test it) I still use my iphone as a screen.

Landing Pad: Available At the DroneU Fly-In and later on Http://thedroneu.com

Towel: http://amzn.to/2tzJH2Q



 

Inspire 1 Drone Field Kit:

6 Batteries: 

SmartPower Charger: Colorado Drone Chargers (testing one now)

2 Sets of Props: Always have extra props and replace your props every 10 flight hours. And i wouldn't recommend flying in the heat above 105 degrees. 

Dual Remotes: If you're going to live stream, this is a necessity. 

Ipad Mini 4: I still prefer my phone. 

Hoodman: You need a hood for the ipad. 

nd filters: Again the secret to epic footage. 

Z3 Camera: Best for live streaming. 

X5 Camera: The high resolution stills camera. I recommend Vic's Oly Trinity of lenses in the his aerial photography course inside Drone U. 


 

Inspire 2 Kit:

4 Pairs of batteries

Charging hubs: haven’t found one yet.

Lightning cables: Because you always need 3. 

Antenna booster:

hoodman: Because everyone needs a hood for there ipad screen! I believe this is the best one. 

Camera Backpack Related:

This is what i take with me just about everywhere. Literally everywhere, we’re drone pilot buts we must deliver packages of video, in order to increase the production value, this is the kit i use to accomplish non-drone related tasks!

 

Sony RX100m5

Sony A6500

Battery Grip:

Sony Lenses (16-50, 35p, 18p, 40-240 zoom):

Joby Gorilla Tripod: http://amzn.to/2ukBBcd

Grip Gear Kit: http://amzn.to/2s3F9yQ

GoPro session 5: easy to conceal and add a random camera angle.

Osmo + (carried in the mavic backpack)

Micro Sd Card Holder

Sd Card Holder

Benro Mini-Tripod with phone attachment (again for timelapses) 

2 Dual NSW50 sony battery charges: 

20,000 Mah Monoprice Charging Battery :

10,000 Mah Monoprice Charging battery: 

Press Pass: To save on luggage!

10 Brand new lens clothes (i also give them out for marketing)

Business Cards: vistaprint

Sony Flash

Sd Card 64 Extreme (4K) http://amzn.to/2sjoCL6

Micro Sd Cards:

Full Size Sd Cards (Extreme for 4k): 

500gb External SSD for mobile edits:

Protective Case for SSD: http://amzn.to/2uar0Eo

Sp gadgets Tripod Screw Adapter (osmo to gopro accessories)

 

 

Neewer Reflectors:  http://amzn.to/2v4mxj4

 

Rode VMGO Video Mic Go:

Cord Organizer:


 

Mobile Office Related:

You’ve got to have hazard lights if you ever pull off on the road to fly, but also you want to make sure you stay connected on the road. From a cell tower booster that really works to a simple good cup of coffee, this is what i tote around!

 

Weboost Drive 4gM Cell Phone Signal Booster

Keurig Cafe Bustelo Coffee: The best coffee ever .

Charki: Lamb Jerky that is unreal good! 

Sun Bum Sunscreen:

Neewer Led Light:

Full tool box with Harbor Freight fillings: Always keep a tool box in the car!

 

Truck Lights: EasyNew 20” 120w Strobing controller for when you have to pull off to the side of the road on a private property, for which you have permission to fly. This makes your mobile vehicle look legit, and provide hazard lights to traffic. Not recommended for real estate shoots. 

Power Inverter (Pure Sine Wave):

Small:

Large:


 

Office Related:

Lesson number 1-100 back up your data.

Drobo Backup Storage

I highly recommend backing up your footage right away, then in a separate place (like a drobo) and maybe in a third place like an editing SSD.
 

This guide is meant to help those who are navigating the drone life. They may be turning their passion into profit with DroneU, or simply flying for fun. Either way, I think this could actually help out a lot more people than just drone pilots.  The mobile office may seem funny to some, but after 3 years of working on the road, you quickly realize what’s important to always have in the car.

 

 The Ultimate Drone Kit, Backpack, GPC Cases and Drone Accessories taken while traveling.

The Ultimate Drone Kit, Backpack, GPC Cases and Drone Accessories taken while traveling.

 Notice the GPC Cases, they're always there! 

Notice the GPC Cases, they're always there! 

 Designated takeoff area with a helipad, GPC cases, UTV's and two Inspire 1's while conducting a water density mapping mission. 

Designated takeoff area with a helipad, GPC cases, UTV's and two Inspire 1's while conducting a water density mapping mission. 

 Grid It Cord Organizer, Sony A6300 Camera, Lenses, Flash, Monoprice Batteries.

Grid It Cord Organizer, Sony A6300 Camera, Lenses, Flash, Monoprice Batteries.

Copy of FAA Message Sent. Casey Neistat Investigation lacks conclusive evidence.

Today marks a pivot point for the drone world. The most outspoken "illegal" pilot was investigated and let go. 

Today, I read an article from another drone pilot who had FOIA'd (requested a freedom of information act request) the FAA about the Casey Neistat investigation. Casey has been posting youtube videos of flying drones in New York City's congested (Controlled) airspace. Traditionally, drone pilots would need special permission to fly in controlled airspace. Today, we realized even if you do fly in controlled airspace, there will be no enforcement action..unless you hit someone with a drone...then they would be scrambling. 

 

If you're not familiar with the popular youtuber, let me help you out.He's got a channel on youtube, millions of subscribers, thousands of federal violations on flying drones. Literally you can find one in almost every video.

 

I'm not the only pilot who has noticed these blatant violations of Casey flying in New York City's airspace, one of the largest areas of controlled airspace in the United States. In fact, thousands of people have commented on Casey's videos about his blatant acts of disregard.

 

Recently, on one of his shows, Casey mentioned he was being investigated by the FAA.  Many drone pilot's perked up when they heard he was being investigated in hopes that maybe the FAA would enforce against him. If the FAA would enforce these violations, it would bring so much more credibility to Part 107 Drone Pilots. 

Rumors swirled as pilots debated whether he deserved enforcement action or not and what message it would send to other pilots. After all, every drone pilot has seen his flights. Ask any drone pilot you know if they've heard of Casey Niestat, chances are they have.

Yesterday, Andy posted his blog post detailing how he discovered the full Casey Neistat story here. His post details the documents he received from the FAA and the details garnished during investigation.

What was the FAA's conclusion about Neistat? 

The FAA concluded that there was not sufficient evidence to prove casey was holding the controls when flying in controlled airspace. They did however, mention that there were illegal flights in controlled airspace. The reasoning for lack of evidence comes down to electronic evidence that doesn't show Casey at the controls.  The drone world has its mouth on the floor.

The most well known drone pilot on youtube showed off blatant violations, set the precedent of illegal flights, was investigated and nothing has happened. He's free to go. Scott Free.

Now Drone Pilots know, as long as there are not pictures of them at the controls. They are safe. 

Notice something here, the FAA did not announce the conclusion of this investigation, even though they did announce the conclusion of the SkyPan case. 

While thousands of other pilots wrestle with regulators for airspace authorizations, many are going to wonder why they should. Casey has proven that you can fly where you want, without issue, hobby or commercial, controlled or restricted airspace and you won't have any enforcement against the pilot. 

We all have to thank Andy who filed the FOIA request and figured out that the FAA didn't find conclusive evidence...Well Done.

Without his work, no-one would have found out what happened. 

Read the Original Article Here:

About a month ago I posted about famed Youtuber Casey Neistat’s FAA investigation.  He casually had mentioned in his vlog that he wouldn’t be flying his drone anywhere because he was being investigated and the internet (well, at least the vlog-following part of the internet) went berserk.  I tried to clearly distinguish between fact and speculation as to what I thought any enforcement action could look like, after which I was lectured by Internet Commenters about how I was an idiot for not knowing the rules about whatever it is they were saying.

There’s no question about it: some of Neistat’s drone shots are risky, especially in light of the air traffic above New York City.  The r/caseyneistat subreddit and other drone enthusiast sites would constantly go nuts whenever Casey would fly, assuming that Casey had not secured proper permits or licenses to fly in controlled airspace.

.......go to his site.

 

Senator Feinstein's Drone Killing Bill, Why it Doesn't Work and How to Stop It.

Just as the Drone Law world seemed to be calming down after the passage of 14 CFR 107 in 2016, the drone industry is about to get rocked again. Thanks to Senator Feinstein, our smooth sailing days of clear law are about to get clouded by regulatory ignorance due to this proposed bill.  This horrible bill proposes the following:

  1. Take Airspace Authority away from FAA
  2. Give Airspace up to 200' AGL to local governments
  3. Provide Privacy protection
  4. Create new protocol to VET new drone pilots. 

Senator Feinstein's goals seem pretty clear, she wants to hand over Federal Jurisdiction of drones to local and state governments. Currently, the FAA is the only government agency tasked with managing the safety of the national airspace. Up until August of 2016, even drone law was so fuzzy, it was difficult to understand the rules until we had solid law. Senator Feinstein's new bill would rip the authority away from the FAA, place the governance in the hands of the states..but only up until 200 feet. 

In an attempt to look "pro-state rights," her intentions to further protect the public and privacy from drones, would be voided by the outcome of the bill. 

Why wouldn't her bill work protect people from buzzing drones over their properties?

Really, what we want now, is not laws against crime, but a law against insanity.
— Mark Twain

One word. Confusion. Imagine how many local, county and state governments exist today. Now imagine all of those people working together to get some coherent law on the books to allow commercial flights, hobby flights and yet protect privacy. The law was just simplified and put into terms that everyone could understand. By enacting a new bill, all of our progress with drone legislation would be nullified. When the law changes from county to county and becomes so cumbersome that most people don't even care.. you're going to have drones flying in all the places you do want them.

Why is the Senator's bill also bad? Well, because first of all drone pilots don't need to be told what times of the day are ok to fly. I'll fly according to conditions necessary to safety.. like the weather, wind, solar radiation, ferromagnetic interference and so on..  Drone pilots will not make decisions based on some Geriatric out-of-touch senator's wishes. Sorry... 

Section 1 of the Bill States:  

In prescribing regulations or standards related to civil unmanned aircraft systems, the Administrator shall ensure that the authority of a State, local, or tribal government to issue reasonable restrictions on the time, manner, and place of operation of a civil unmanned aircraft system that is operated below 200 feet above ground level or within 200 feet of a structure is not preempted.
— Feinstein

This essentially means, "lets take away the authority of the FAA, give it to the locals and O yeah you can't fly within 200 feet of any structure without permission." 

Think about that, if i wanted to fly a Real Estate job for the local commercial agent and needed to acquire a shot for Loopnet, id be suddenly asking dozens of people for permission to fly. Imagine if local helicopter pilots had to ask every time they flew over someone's house. Traffic would come to a standstill. This wouldn't' work. 

Let's talk privacy: Look i'm all for privacy, but we all know "reasonable right to privacy." Recently, a lady was suing some guy for pictures taken when she was inside her 25th story apartment in New York. The judge ruled the photographer wasn't breaching any privacy because the woman opened the curtains knowing that others could see in, thus invalidating her "reasonable right to privacy." Read more about this case here: 

Honestly, if I wanted to spy on you, I'd take my 42 megapixel Sony, strap on a 1000mm lens and go for a ride. I can capture so much of your life with that machine, and you would never hear a peep. A drone, on the other hand, is quite loud and wouldn't get nearly the resolution most people dream of.  

The rest of this bill aims to create a new system of rules for each state to vet drone pilots. I find this exceptionally challenging. Why? Most state and local officials are almost BRAINDEAD when it comes to drone law. They have to be educated on the privacy rules of America found here. 

Having a system to continually vet pilots is a great idea, and i'm personally a proponent for an FAA practical drone test. (There isn't one right now, just a written exam.) 

As much as Senator Feinstein is attempting to create a safer environment for her constituents, it would do more harm than good. 

What can you do to fight this egregious proposed bill?

  1. Contact your representatives now! 
  2. Use this Template if you need help writing: (Although it's long) 
  3. Get your representative to respond. 

How To Save Money, When You're Flying With Drone Luggage When Using Media Passes.

Saving Money on Luggage, Printing Media Passes and the In's and Out's I've learned. 

 Being a  drone pilot , working for  DroneU a nd podcasting 24/7 means I'm traveling all the time. If it's going to Miami to train, or if it's going to Puerto Rico for work, it's all the time. Here's the deal, my clients hate luggage fees. If you're working with an experienced marketing director, they know these media rules too. So if you find that they eliminated your luggage fees from the expense report, this may help.    (DONT FORGET TO CARRY ON YOUR BATTERIES)   In this article, you'll learn how to reduce bag fees, how to showcase a media pass and how to print a media pass. BUT REMEMBER, everything and the success of this are dependent on your attitude!   I have dealt with luggage handlers who didn't even need a media pass and let me off with the rules. Others wanted 4-5 pieces of proof. This definitive guide will help you print off a media pass that should work, but don't forget it always helps to start with "Maybe you can help me.?"    Discount Luggage Rates   This is the single best thing that has ever happened to someone    Livin' The Drone Life.    Often times, some people rent equipment, but with drone rentals being so tumultuous, you may find it easier to just fly with the gear. In my case, it just makes the most sense to bring everything with me. That, and I like working with the gear I’m familiar with.  It’s  very important to note  that each airline has different language for their policy, but they all require a form of identification for your company proving you are indeed what you say you are. This is where having your business set up as a separate entity can be very helpful. Some counter reps may just take your business card and call it good, especially when they see you have a bunch of hard cases in tow. I always hand them my business card and my business credit card, or business debit card. This is simply proof to them that I have a legitimate business, as anyone can print a business card, so be prepared for this. You can try it with just your business card and it might work, maybe wear a T-shirt or hat with your company name or logo on it, and you might get by. I have found that American Airlines and Delta were a little easier and smoother to process the bags than United. Also, make sure you arrive  very  early to do this. I’ve had the process of checking my gear take up to 45 minutes as some people don’t even know how to apply it in their computer system, so they have to ask for help. I’ve also had it take 10 minutes, so you just never know.   So what is a media rate and how do I get it?   The media rate is essentially a flat baggage rate for members of the media, photographers, and filmmakers.  I'll to outline the details of each airline's media rate, but they all share one thing in common, a $50-$75 flat rate for a bag up to 99 pounds. That’s a lot of gear that you can fly for the price point. Many airlines also give you up to 25 bags at this rate. Normally for the average Joe, a bag weighing over 50 pounds will carry a fee, and over about 70 pounds the fee gets even larger. With a media rate, you don’t have to worry about it as long as your cases are under 100 pounds. So let's look at some media rate policies.   United Airlines   I can't stand United, They were amazing in the 90's and now they are rock bottom if you ask me. They really need help in the service department and they are the longest when it comes to handling my media bags. They have a lot of gate agents that don’t know the policy as they should. They usually think it is just for members of the media like CNN or NBC. This usually results in me handing over a copy of their policy and having to speak with some supervisor who ultimately tells them photographers count. Like I said, I’ve had it take 45 minutes and I’ve had it take 10 minutes.  United's Policy is here.           Which States: Representatives from network television, broadcasting, and commercial filmmaking companies will be charged a flat service charge to check camera, film, and lighting and sound equipment. The items must be checked by the media representative and the charges are per item at the prices listed in the chart below. The discounted service charge applies for worldwide travel on flights marketed and operated by United and is subject to seasonal and permanent baggage embargoes. For flights connecting to other airlines, baggage charges are subject to the connecting airline’s baggage policies.   What you need:  To obtain media checked bag service charge rates, media representatives should provide United airport check-in counter representatives with media credentials; company personnel identification for an entertainment, media or production company; or clearly identified media equipment cases labeled with company identification. If the media representative is unable to provide such verification, customers will be charged standard checked baggage service charges. Spouses and/or other companions, whether traveling in the same or separate reservation as the media personnel, are not eligible for the discount unless they present eligible media credentials.   Delta Airlines:    

Being a drone pilot, working for DroneU and podcasting 24/7 means I'm traveling all the time. If it's going to Miami to train, or if it's going to Puerto Rico for work, it's all the time. Here's the deal, my clients hate luggage fees. If you're working with an experienced marketing director, they know these media rules too. So if you find that they eliminated your luggage fees from the expense report, this may help.    (DONT FORGET TO CARRY ON YOUR BATTERIES) 

In this article, you'll learn how to reduce bag fees, how to showcase a media pass and how to print a media pass. BUT REMEMBER, everything and the success of this are dependent on your attitude! 

I have dealt with luggage handlers who didn't even need a media pass and let me off with the rules. Others wanted 4-5 pieces of proof. This definitive guide will help you print off a media pass that should work, but don't forget it always helps to start with "Maybe you can help me.?" 

Discount Luggage Rates

This is the single best thing that has ever happened to someone Livin' The Drone Life. Often times, some people rent equipment, but with drone rentals being so tumultuous, you may find it easier to just fly with the gear. In my case, it just makes the most sense to bring everything with me. That, and I like working with the gear I’m familiar with.

It’s very important to note that each airline has different language for their policy, but they all require a form of identification for your company proving you are indeed what you say you are. This is where having your business set up as a separate entity can be very helpful. Some counter reps may just take your business card and call it good, especially when they see you have a bunch of hard cases in tow. I always hand them my business card and my business credit card, or business debit card. This is simply proof to them that I have a legitimate business, as anyone can print a business card, so be prepared for this. You can try it with just your business card and it might work, maybe wear a T-shirt or hat with your company name or logo on it, and you might get by. I have found that American Airlines and Delta were a little easier and smoother to process the bags than United. Also, make sure you arrive very early to do this. I’ve had the process of checking my gear take up to 45 minutes as some people don’t even know how to apply it in their computer system, so they have to ask for help. I’ve also had it take 10 minutes, so you just never know.

So what is a media rate and how do I get it?

The media rate is essentially a flat baggage rate for members of the media, photographers, and filmmakers.  I'll to outline the details of each airline's media rate, but they all share one thing in common, a $50-$75 flat rate for a bag up to 99 pounds. That’s a lot of gear that you can fly for the price point. Many airlines also give you up to 25 bags at this rate. Normally for the average Joe, a bag weighing over 50 pounds will carry a fee, and over about 70 pounds the fee gets even larger. With a media rate, you don’t have to worry about it as long as your cases are under 100 pounds. So let's look at some media rate policies.

United Airlines

I can't stand United, They were amazing in the 90's and now they are rock bottom if you ask me. They really need help in the service department and they are the longest when it comes to handling my media bags. They have a lot of gate agents that don’t know the policy as they should. They usually think it is just for members of the media like CNN or NBC. This usually results in me handing over a copy of their policy and having to speak with some supervisor who ultimately tells them photographers count. Like I said, I’ve had it take 45 minutes and I’ve had it take 10 minutes. United's Policy is here. 

       Which States: Representatives from network television, broadcasting, and commercial filmmaking companies will be charged a flat service charge to check camera, film, and lighting and sound equipment. The items must be checked by the media representative and the charges are per item at the prices listed in the chart below. The discounted service charge applies for worldwide travel on flights marketed and operated by United and is subject to seasonal and permanent baggage embargoes. For flights connecting to other airlines, baggage charges are subject to the connecting airline’s baggage policies.

What you need: To obtain media checked bag service charge rates, media representatives should provide United airport check-in counter representatives with media credentials; company personnel identification for an entertainment, media or production company; or clearly identified media equipment cases labeled with company identification. If the media representative is unable to provide such verification, customers will be charged standard checked baggage service charges. Spouses and/or other companions, whether traveling in the same or separate reservation as the media personnel, are not eligible for the discount unless they present eligible media credentials. 

Delta Airlines: 

 

 Delta Airlines  Delta's media rate policy is basically the same as United, albeit, their language is a little different. They want a valid ID with company insignia, however, I have successfully flown Delta by just handing them my business card and business debit card, and they didn't even look too closely at either. They were probably the nicest and easiest when it came to speed of check in than anyone so far, but again check the rules.  Found here.    Don't forget your ID!    What you need:  Camera, film, video tape, lighting and sound equipment that is tendered by representatives of network or local television broadcasting companies or commercial film-making companies will be accepted as baggage at the fees noted below. Valid photo ID with company insignia is required.   

Delta Airlines

Delta's media rate policy is basically the same as United, albeit, their language is a little different. They want a valid ID with company insignia, however, I have successfully flown Delta by just handing them my business card and business debit card, and they didn't even look too closely at either. They were probably the nicest and easiest when it came to speed of check in than anyone so far, but again check the rules. Found here.   Don't forget your ID! 

What you need: Camera, film, video tape, lighting and sound equipment that is tendered by representatives of network or local television broadcasting companies or commercial film-making companies will be accepted as baggage at the fees noted below. Valid photo ID with company insignia is required.

 

  American Airlines   They have the most friendly policy language for photographers of any airline so far.  You can print their policy here . The only thing that is vague is that they don’t specify any weight limits, but just keep it under 100 pounds and you should be fine. The language also says it’s only $50 per piece for international flights as well which is cheaper than United or Delta, and they allow up to 40 pieces.   What you need:  Camera, film, lighting and sound equipment will be charged a rate of $50 USD per piece when tendered by representatives of network or local television broadcasting companies, commercial film-making companies,  professional photographers , the federal government, Department of Defense or the  American Society of Media Photographers . These rates apply to travel within the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and international destinations. A maximum of 25 pieces is allowed per organization/company per American Eagle flight or 40 pieces for American Airlines flights. This policy is subject to seasonal and permanent baggage embargoes. The maximum size and weight allowances are subject to the policies in place for the destination.   Southwest Airlines  (My Favorite as of 2 years ago)   I love Southwest, and often only take 3 large GPC Cases with me wherever I go.  It is more expensive than the others we have talked about, $75 per piece, and no weight restrictions. Southwest is also the only one to still give everyone two free pieces of checked bags, but they have to be 50 pounds or less or else it’s $75 per bag.  You can print their policy here .  WHAT YOU NEED: Camera, film, video, lighting, and sound equipment will be accepted when presented by a representative of a network or local television broadcasting company or a commercial filmmaking company. A fee of $75 will be charged for each item in excess of the free baggage allowance. Media equipment will not be assessed oversized or overweight charges.  Alaskan Airlines  They don’t have a specific section of their baggage policy that deals with media, however their rate for bags from 51 pounds to 100 pounds is $75 per bag which is $25 more than United, Delta, or American. You can read  more about their baggage policy here .  Jet Blue  Not friendly at all for media. They have no media rate policy, and their overweight charge for 51-100 pounds is $100 per bag. You can  read their policy here , but I would just skip them if you plan on flying more than 50 pounds (unless of course the ticket is so cheap that it offsets the cost). It’s unfortunate as I really like JetBlue in every other regard.  Frontier Airlines  I decided to throw this in the mix as they have a media rate, but it’s loosely worded and more expensive than United, American, Southwest, or Delta.  Their policy is here . Also note it is only valid for travel entirely on Frontier.  WHAT YOU NEED: Media personnel with ID may check bags and equipment for $75 each for one-way directional travel wholly on Frontier.     How to print your own media pass:   After having some difficulty with gate agents, i've realized the perception of cool and legit is super important. I recommend you print out a media badge. Print out the badge credentials on the front and include the rules of each airline on the back! Here is my template pictured below.   To print these badges I went to  quickidcard.com . I clicked on "Make ID." I picked a vertical ID card template towards the bottom. When the template came up I clicked on "add new image" and picked the JPG I had made for the front and resized it to fit the entire card. Then I clicked "switch to reverse side" and "add new image," and I chose the image for the back. They cost $12 to print.   Have as much fun as you like with your design, just remember to use another badge ID number. We wouldn't want our official media pass accounts to become suspended when the lady behind the Delta counter discovers duplicate badge numbers. 

American Airlines

They have the most friendly policy language for photographers of any airline so far. You can print their policy here. The only thing that is vague is that they don’t specify any weight limits, but just keep it under 100 pounds and you should be fine. The language also says it’s only $50 per piece for international flights as well which is cheaper than United or Delta, and they allow up to 40 pieces.

What you need: Camera, film, lighting and sound equipment will be charged a rate of $50 USD per piece when tendered by representatives of network or local television broadcasting companies, commercial film-making companies, professional photographers, the federal government, Department of Defense or the American Society of Media Photographers. These rates apply to travel within the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and international destinations. A maximum of 25 pieces is allowed per organization/company per American Eagle flight or 40 pieces for American Airlines flights. This policy is subject to seasonal and permanent baggage embargoes. The maximum size and weight allowances are subject to the policies in place for the destination.

Southwest Airlines (My Favorite as of 2 years ago) 

I love Southwest, and often only take 3 large GPC Cases with me wherever I go.  It is more expensive than the others we have talked about, $75 per piece, and no weight restrictions. Southwest is also the only one to still give everyone two free pieces of checked bags, but they have to be 50 pounds or less or else it’s $75 per bag. You can print their policy here.

WHAT YOU NEED: Camera, film, video, lighting, and sound equipment will be accepted when presented by a representative of a network or local television broadcasting company or a commercial filmmaking company. A fee of $75 will be charged for each item in excess of the free baggage allowance. Media equipment will not be assessed oversized or overweight charges.

Alaskan Airlines

They don’t have a specific section of their baggage policy that deals with media, however their rate for bags from 51 pounds to 100 pounds is $75 per bag which is $25 more than United, Delta, or American. You can read more about their baggage policy here.

Jet Blue

Not friendly at all for media. They have no media rate policy, and their overweight charge for 51-100 pounds is $100 per bag. You can read their policy here, but I would just skip them if you plan on flying more than 50 pounds (unless of course the ticket is so cheap that it offsets the cost). It’s unfortunate as I really like JetBlue in every other regard.

Frontier Airlines

I decided to throw this in the mix as they have a media rate, but it’s loosely worded and more expensive than United, American, Southwest, or Delta. Their policy is here. Also note it is only valid for travel entirely on Frontier.

WHAT YOU NEED: Media personnel with ID may check bags and equipment for $75 each for one-way directional travel wholly on Frontier.

 

How to print your own media pass: 

After having some difficulty with gate agents, i've realized the perception of cool and legit is super important. I recommend you print out a media badge. Print out the badge credentials on the front and include the rules of each airline on the back! Here is my template pictured below. 

To print these badges I went to quickidcard.com. I clicked on "Make ID." I picked a vertical ID card template towards the bottom. When the template came up I clicked on "add new image" and picked the JPG I had made for the front and resized it to fit the entire card. Then I clicked "switch to reverse side" and "add new image," and I chose the image for the back. They cost $12 to print. 

Have as much fun as you like with your design, just remember to use another badge ID number. We wouldn't want our official media pass accounts to become suspended when the lady behind the Delta counter discovers duplicate badge numbers. 

Thanks for reading. If you'e looking to fly better, I highly recommend DroneU. They also have a lot of resources for your drone business.