I own a drone. It’s the DJI Phantom 3 Pro. It has a stabilized Go-Pro 12 megapixel HD camera mounted on the underneath and I use a mini Ipad to see where I fly. Truth be told I have not yet flown it yet, my son has. The control is like a game controller so for him, being a gamer it was as easy as pie. We had some fun with it last year with one thing in mind. Add it to my real estate tools to provide great aerial photos of homes and land.
The FAA were aware people were using these lightweight drones in business and at that time a pilots license was really needed to fly one for business purposes. That requirement was a little extreme; given they are remotely controlled and small and you cannot sit in them! I had a professional photographer do my aerials for me but he was not interested in complying with the FAA requirements, stating that he could essentially wiggle out of the rules. Well I am not a wiggler, I am a complier. As a Drone flying hobbyist as long as you register yourself as a drone flyer with the FAA you are free to fly. Up to this point that is what I have done.
The FAA have amended their drone flying rules to make it more sensible. Now it’s time to comply so I can use the Drone in my business. That means I have to file a petition with the FAA against needing a pilots license. The petition is about 100 pages long to cover all that the FAA requires and if any Realtor wants to use a Drone in their business, to comply with the FAA it must be done. Flying must wait until your petition is granted. This takes about 8 weeks from submission to approval. Fly without and be prepared for some hefty fines!
In general the FAA will grant your petition based on the size of the drone and what you will be using it for, in my case real estate. I must petition why I am safe, why it’s in the best interests of the public and why I don’t need a bonafide pilots license.
My petition has been filed, so I should be compliant and ready to fly for business by spring, perfect for new real estate listings and photography. Of course I have yet to learn how to fly so it’s time to try it out in the basement. The weather outside is not really the best, winds need to be calm and I cannot go ice-skating in my yard to retrieve it. So I’ll use the training platform first and then see how well I do in real life. Once the weather is better I shall take it outside. Hopefully my son will help me.
What Do Drone Photos Look Like?
The camera is both a still camera and a video camera. It feeds all it’s data into the Ipad mounted on the controller so you can literally see where you are going, see what is being recorded and click to take photos or video. Very cool! When my petition is granted I have to keep it under 400 feet, that’s not going to be an issue. 100 feet up can give some very good perspectives of properties with their land especially in the country areas I serve. The battery packs allow a fly time of about 20 minutes at a time. When the battery starts to fail it comes home all by itself, now that’s clever. OK back to those photos.
This first photo of a home on 2+ acres was taken from the street, the idea is to get buyers to see how much yard space there is.
This photo is much closer to the house and taken from about the same height as the house and from an angle gives a buyer a great view and a great perspective. Taken with the drone camera flying just in front of the house, we aren’t really getting aerial shots but they are much better than standing directly in front of the house.
Here is a photo of the front of another home. It had just rained and you might think photos taken in gray skies and rain would not be good. Actually it’s quite the contrary. As long as there is sufficient exposure photos appear better than in bright sunshine. There’s no bright sun or reflection to deal with.
Now let’s go aerial! The house in the center below we had listed for sale, now buyers can instantly see what the neighborhood was like and that the property was waterfront.
And finally our first flight. Remember this one was just as a hobbyist, we weren’t too worried about anything other than seeing what the quality was like and how well the Go-Pro camera recorded while in flight. The camera is mounted on a gimbal with 3 axis which provides the steady video and photos.