All Things UAV & Drone Blog

This blog is dedicated to the review of various photographic products within the UAV market including on-board cameras with the various UAV products as well as third-party cameras that can be carried on any given UAV. In particular, with a glut of information out there on video-related reviews, I will be focusing on the still-photography related features 

Would You Believe a Drone Scholarship?

Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming will gladly honor your UAV Coach scholarship.

Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming will gladly honor your UAV Coach scholarship.

Like Macintosh computers not so long ago, people have often thought of drones as simply toys for grown-ups, but the times they are indeed changing. What kind of change might I be talking about? Well, thanks to UAV Coach, college scholarships are now up for grabs—specifically two scholarships for $1,000 each. That’s not shabby at all as that kind of dough will cover a little more than just books!

The main requirement for securing the scholarship is for students to write an essay that explores how drones are changing the world for the better. The essay topics range from how drones can be used for good, to the use of drones in STEM education, to how drones will change our world over the next ten years.

As a college educator myself, I think this is a pretty sweet opportunity.

As UAV Coach tells it, “As technology improves and drones get less and less expensive, we’re seeing a proliferation of different niche applications, from uses in agriculture, mining, surveying, fire fighting, and much, much more. UAV Coach wants to hear from thoughtful college students inspired by drone technology from all walks of life—when they think about the possibilities and the future of the drone industry, what do they imagine?”

So, maybe that kid of yours—the one who is in college now or about to enter next year and is pretty smooth flying a quadcopter or has built several from scratch—has something to say about the subject matter that will enhance his/her educational future.

Eligibility requirements for UAV Coach’s college scholarship are simple: Applicants must be enrolled as an undergraduate in a U.S. college or university at the time of receiving the award, but may apply before being enrolled (i.e., high school seniors are eligible to apply).

That’s it. The deadline to apply is May 1, 2018. Winners will be announced May 10, 2018. The two winning essays will be published on the UAV Coach website.

But Wait, There’s More…

And if that’s not enough, there’s also an opportunity for high school students who are looking to secure there commercial drone pilot license. UAV Coach is offering a scholarship to high school students that provides free access to Drone Pilot Ground School, their remote test prep course for the FAA’s Part 107 test.

Applications for the high school scholarship are accepted on a rolling basis, and there are no limits to the number of scholarships that will be awarded. The first 100 high school scholarship recipients to take the Part 107 test will also have their test fee covered (up to $150).

The high school scholarship provides students with an opportunity to start down the path to a possible career in the drone industry, knowing that an interest in drones could dovetail with an interest in engineering, cinematography, surveying, or a plethora of other possible occupations.

To learn more about UAV Coach’s high school scholarship, visit the High School STEM Scholarship for Aspiring Commercial Drone Pilots webpage.

UAV Coach has always been first and foremost about education. This college scholarship, along with the high school scholarship launched last year, fit perfectly into their mission of providing training and resources to the drone industry. It’s no surprise that they are thrilled to be supporting young people in pursuing their educational goals while also helping to push the drone industry forward.

Looking Back on 2017 Droning

My frozen neighborhood for the last flight of 2017.

My frozen neighborhood for the last flight of 2017.

Another year of flying drones, but it’s not like I started flying drones on the first day of year back in… oh I don’t know, 2012? Does anyone really know when they officially started flying drones?

Mine started with the little Syma helicopter my father purchased for himself, but he never flew it for fear he would crash it. So, he just put it up on the shelf like any other aviation model he collected. But on those occasions I was home, one particular time I inquired about its ability to actually fly. He gave me permission to give it a try, and during that two-week visit of flying the little helicopter, I embarked on my “career” as a drone pilot.

I never flew again until the next year I was home, but after that second visit, I realized I needed to get my own. That’s when I was really hooked. Looking back at my Amazon orders, one could say I was officially on board on the 31st of March 2014 when I ordered, not one, but two Syma helicopters.

But, back to another young year behind me when it comes to flying drones, and the highlights of that year.

On Super Bowl Sunday (February 5,) I took out my XK Detect X380 for a neighborhood flight knowing everyone was indoors watching the game. In what I thought would be a casual and innocuous flight, I watched in horror as the X380 suddenly started drifting and unresponsive to my efforts of correcting the drift. Before I knew it, it was making like a Japanese dive-bomber at Pearl Harbor heading for the deck. As it dove toward a hard and frozen field (instead of a house or someone’s car luckily), it suddenly made a hard turn and flew through the leafless branches of a deciduous tree and then tumbled across the snow-packed road—finally coming to rest by the barely visible curb. Like a runaway truck ramp, the tree branches slowed the quadcopter down enough before hitting the frozen earth to keep the damage to a minimal. Oh sure, three of the four props were lost including all four legs of the landing gear and the gimbal holding the sports camera, but miraculously, every prop arm was only scratched up a bit, while the shell and camera remained intact. Walking home with the wrecked craft, I felt lucky on two accounts: first, I still had a quadcopter that would fly another day, and second, few people (if any) saw the horrible crash. I have yet to confirm what caused this incident, only theories.

On another instance, during a very short test flight (straight up and down) from the backyard after upgrading the firmware of my Phantom 3, a policeman knocked on my door about 30 minutes after the flight to ask if I had been flying a drone. He informed me that although I had not broken the law, a neighbor had reported the flight and was concerned.

One summer morning, I flew out of the front yard and as my Syma X8C was coming in to land, the guy across the street looked up and impersonated the action of someone firing a shotgun at the drone (sound effects included) as he was working about his yard. The drone was never above or near his property. Considering we’ve never visited, I reckoned his conduct as more adversarial than comical.

As a result of these incidents, I’ll probably be much more reserved about flying in the neighborhood in 2018, and limit such flights to only those circumstances that are far beyond the norm.

One other notable item: two of my drone images have hit the printing presses. One image was published in the October issue of The Sun Magazine, while another was used in a promotional piece for the college (where I teach).

As I head into the new year, I can report that I’ve formally logged well over 400 flights (on at least 8 different aircraft over the years) that produced still photography or video. This does not count the many test or pure recreational flights.