• Ian Titchener

What is the Difference Between an Amateur and a Professional Drone Pilot?

This is a question I hear a lot. There is a perception that anyone can just throw a drone up in the air and produce beautiful video, and that anybody can fly a drone. This is partly true, anybody can fly a drone, but people are so arrogant as to believe that they are actually doing the flying. In reality, they are not, the drone is. All that is happening, in reality, is that you are giving the drone instructions to fly in a particular direction! (try buying a drone from Argos for £50 that doesn’t have GPS or altitude hold, then you will really learn to fly) An amateur drone pilot may have a basic competence when it comes to flying a drone, and may even be able to produce some pretty good looking content, they may be a superb editor. But that doesn’t mean that they are safe!

I recently had a long discussion on YouTube with a guy who flew his DJI Mavic two miles away whilst wearing goggles; he then flew around a wind turbine. He was oblivious as to why this was an issue. Flying a drone beyond the line of sight means that you cannot see what is above it, behind it, below it or to the side of it. Something could crash into the drone from any of these directions, he could have crashed into something else from any of these directions damaging people or property that was not his own. He could have been in restricted airspace and caused a danger to other airspace users.

This perfectly illustrates the major difference between an amateur and a professional. CAA qualified drone pilots go through months of training and practice in order to qualify. They are far more aware of the risks involved in flying a drone, far more able to judge whether it is appropriate or safe to conduct a flight. They will also be more aware of air law, what type of airspace they are in. And 9/10 they will be more adept at using the platforms they are operating, producing far better results than the traditional ‘my mate has a drone’ approach Using an amateur isn’t safe, it isn’t legal and it can result in massive reputational damage for the business doing so if an accident occurs (an amateur will also likely not be insured ) You have heard the saying ‘if you think it’s expensive to hire a professional wait until you hire an amateur’ In this case its perfectly true!

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