Tell us about yourself and your background.
My mum and biological father invented the Whiteboard in a Cabinet (http://www.egan.com) in 1967 and proceeded to become the corporate standard for businesses around the world.
I grew up around manufacturing, sales and presentations. However, primarily my father was strong in Marketing and was the classic travelling salesperson – our business was corporate presentations. I am a licensed pilot, diver, kiteboarder, windsurfer, tech / geek. I have had every type of PC starting with the PET 8086, Vic20, commodore 64, IBM AT, XT… etc. I am a “maker” and don’t want anything to do with the military use of drones. I started programming C, pascal and fortran in grade 11 (Canada). When I was 25 I invented an electronic whiteboard called the Teamboard. Link here to patent.
We went from being a whiteboard company to a tech company, and were very successful and took TeamBoard sales to over 10 million in 3 years. It was a family business and over time it became difficult to work with my father, so I moved on to commercial real estate to work with my step father and have been doing that for 10 years (Colliers International). Because of my work in commercial real estate, I know the value of aerial imagery for marketing, and the potential of this technology for Roof Inspections and Photogrammetry.
This is fun. I have seen a lot of technology and innovations come and go, however, I did not have the right mixture of timing, capitalization or knowledge. Not this time!
This was the perfect storm.
- I had the Technology / Software development experience (teamboard), I get it, I understand it.
- The Internet, I get, I understand it and have been there from the beginning.
- I am a licensed pilot (PPL, night rated and float)
- I love photography and videography
- My awesome partner is a Professional photographer and has been a Creative Director and VP Marketing for several successful brands.
We are not going to miss this boat!! This technology is revolutionary and we just want to create something cool. Air-Vid.com is just that.
How did you get started in the drone industry?
I am a commercial realtor with a major brokerage and required a professional video of a unique property and could not find a qualified drone pilot easily.
The right time, the right place, a few thousand miles under our feet (experience). We knew we had to start lean, work hard and grow through offering value to our visitors. The term we use is “Frictionless” acquisition of pilots. We don’t want to be pushy, demanding or offensive. We don’t want to put our hand out asking for anything until we prove our value. We want to reach a critical mass, we want to be the source for locating pilots for aerial imagery then humbly ask for the ability to continue (via $).
Tell us about air-vid.com, what it is, and your role there?
“Since the dawn of time, man has looked to sky and dreamed of flying. Flying provides an uncommon perspective of our lives. Looking down upon us is color to “black and white”, the bird’s eye view is what 3D is to 2D. When I was young, I would look at my small kite and imagine being seated in that kite, in the pilot’s seat. Aerial video offers that experience, and not to just the pilot, but everyone. It makes the common, uncommon; makes the inaccessible an achievement. At the highest level, if we were all able to look down at Earth from above, it would allow us to recognize that our daily conflicts are insignificant. I believe this perspective would help us achieve peace; in that single snapshot we would realize we are all on the same ship sailing through the ether. We at Airvid want to capture the human experience from the sky and connect the people that share the same dream.”
I think that live aerial video will stop Sociopaths , Dictators and Criminals from killing innocents and lying about it (obfuscation and prevarication), e.g. Kiev and the protests in China. You can’t hide it when you see it from the air. I think that by shining a light on the dark corners of this earth we will expose evil, bring it to the attention of people with common sense and good will come from that. I think the person that I most admire and that most closely resembles my mission (and was at it before me) is Patrick Meier of irevolution.net. He’s written a book about his experiences and goals called Digital Humanitarians. I just hope government agencies understand the benefits that will come from this technology and don’t kill the innovation required to solve the outstanding issues.
How can drone pilots be listed on your directory and what are the requirements?
- They need to demonstrate ability, etiquette and professionalism
- Stable footage
- Professional presentation
- Good editing
- They need a proper logo
- I need to be able to reach them and they need to respond to my emails.
- An Address (or city) – some people work out of their house and don’t want their home coming up on the map.
- A social media account (Facebook , twitter, etc)
- Licensing, if applicable. (NOTE: if the country does not have formal licensing, but if it is underway we will eventually require proof of insurance and Gov’t permission. It is our intent to have the best “qualified pilots”)
Currently if the pilot is licensed, their accreditation will appear at the bottom of their poster. But, we do not check validity, since we are not charging, we cannot take liability. We want to keep track of the licensing, however, it is hard to keep up with limited staff. Check our best practices survey.
Is there a fee to list with air-vid.com? If no, will there be any fees in the future?
No, there is no fee currently and in the future we need to be able to continue to operate, so yes, eventually. However, at the moment, I feel like we are a “field of dreams” if we build it… they will come. I want a critical mass of pilots and a critical mass of visitors – there will be a tipping point when it occurs to everyone what this technology can do and they will want to find pilots. I want to build a brand that is known worldwide and respected for doing it right. My ultimate goal will be when there is a breaking news story in some distant land and a major news network contacts us and says they need a pilot to cover some event unfolding. Then we will have helped “someone” and made a difference. In the meantime, we’ll be happy with pilots doing roofing surveys, photogrammetry, aerial shots of buildings for sale and cinematography for documentaries in South America.
Do you fly any drones? What type of drones and gear are you flying?
Yes, we have 5: 2 hubsans (one camera / one fpv) for practice of course and the kids, 1 hex with multiiwii and 2axis tarot with GoPro (home built), 1 tarot 950 with naza and 3 axis alexmos32bit, with sony NEX5 (home built) and waiting on the DJI Inspire.
What is your favorite drone to fly and why?
I like the 950 with Naza. It is like a Cadillac, slow , stable, peaceful and the shots can be breathtaking.
What applications are you using drones for?
In terms of applications, for us, there are no limits. We are looking for all pilots, with all required skill sets and our search capability will allow that.
Practice , Practice, Practice.
What advice would you give to others who want to get started flying drones?
- Practice , Practice, Practice.
- Don’t be overconfident.
- Know how to freefly.
- Start with a toy.
- Be able to fly in all directions, no matter which way the drone is pointing.
- Follow a checklist you will forget something. Period.
- Don’t show off either on site, or in an attempt to get “the shot”. In aviation, they say there are Old Pilots and Bold Pilots, but no Old/ Bold Pilots.
- Don’t drink too much coffee before you fly.
Where do you see drones and drone technology in the future? Give an example of a real-world application of drone technology that you envision.
Using Occulus Rift/FatShark FPV goggles, Live streaming FPV of famous locations, real estate and landmarks via a website where the visitor can control the drone remotely and explore for themselves. The drone would be GeoFenced such that it could not go outside set boundaries.
What do you think about drones and privacy?
Privacy is different for everyone. I think many of these issues come down to common sense. I think people should rely on it more rather than legislating ourselves into bondage. Punish bad operators, not everyone. People were fearful of the Motor Car when it displaced the horse and carriage and the same when the airplane was built. When people realize the cost savings and the benefit to humanity, they’ll simply come up with a Geofencing initiative that allows you to protect your property from overflight within reason up to a certain altitude. Simply technological innovation will solve these problems. (e.g. Whitehouse = DJI geofenced the Whitehouse, problem solved for that product at least)
What are some myths perpetuated by the media/people about drones?
I don’t think they are myths, I think they are worst case scenarios. You could weaponize a drone and detonate it over a crowd, however, it could also be used to bring a defibulator. So a logical question is, is it going to save more people than kill? Given our examples of the automobile and airplane, we all know people who have died in car accidents and Malaysia / Indonesia has just lost two airplanes… but we still fly. Why? Because cars and planes benefit more people than they harm (this raises the green question, but tesla is working on that). At some point this will happen with this technology. We will innovate our way through these issues. This is what humans do and we do it well, if left somewhat unfettered and using common sense.
How can we change the public’s perception on drones?
Peer pressure. If you see an idiot, help stop them from being an idiot – say something. When I went surfing on the North Shore of Hawaii, I was thinking that paddling into pipeline was a good idea (I was 20)… a seasoned professional stopped me and explained the depth and the coral when the wave dumps you. Hold people to a higher standard and if you see them being reckless, help them understand the risks. Don’t be rude, don’t be threatening; however, tell them the worst case scenario and suggest alternate plans or methods. If we don’t regulate ourselves, uneducated fearful people will.
Being professional. As a commercial pilot, wear appropriate attire, make sure you have a safe landing area. Have someone other than the pilot or spotter communicate with bystanders. Be patient and kind – you are an ambassador to our community.
What’s the best way to educate myself about drones?
- Buy a mini/ micro quad and work your way up.
- Watch lots of videos online/ take some of the new courses coming online.
- Make your mistakes in a safe place, because you will crash.
- Learn from other people’s mistakes as you will not live long enough to make them all yourself.
Thank you so much for your insights. Is there anything else that we haven’t touched on that you would like to share?
We have about 960 applicants and 530 approved, about 3 x more than our closest competitor. SEO – if you type in “find drone pilot” “locate drone pilot” “find UAV pilot” “locate UAV pilot” in Google and Bing we should be top 5.
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