Anyone can buy a drone off the shelf these days, but it takes a little bit more than that to be able to fly one safely. There are tons of videos and how-tos out there, but those are never quite the same as having someone to get out there with you and teach you how to fly. DARTdrones Flight Academy is a great way to get the training and hands on experience you need to fly with confidence. We talked with Abby Speicher, founder and CEO of DARTdrones, to find out more about this award winning company.
Tell us about yourself and your background.
I am a recent Babson MBA graduate and the Co-Founder and CEO of DARTdrones Flight Academy, a flight school for drone pilots. DARTdrones teaches the safe and legal use of drones and a comprehensive understanding of the equipment using military veterans as Flight Captains. I started my first company when I was seventeen and graduated from Babson with the Entrepreneurship Award, the Sorenson Scholarship, and the winner of Babson’s BETA Challenge Competition.
How did you get started in the drone industry?
I met my now Co-Founder Chris Costello, a Major in the Army National Guard, and the two of us realized the amazing potential for the commercial use of drones. We ordered a Phantom 1 off Amazon and immediately crashed it. We could not find quality training resources so we created a Flight Academy that would promote the safe and legal use of drones.
What type of drones and gear are you flying? Any plans to upgrade?
Currently we fly the Phantom 2 Vision Plus, Phantom 3, and DJI Inspire. We are looking to expand into drones made by 3D Robotics and the future GoPro drone.
What is your favorite drone to fly and why?
DARTdrones Flight Captains love to fly the DJI Inspire. It handles incredibly well and it’s a lot of fun to fly around both casually and for training purposes. It feels so substantial compared to the Phantom.
Tell us about your company, what it is, and your role there. How did the company get started?
DARTdrones is a female owned, military founded, family business. My dad is an entrepreneurship professor and was teaching an online military MBA to my now co-founder, Army Major Chris Costello. I was in the MBA program at Babson College, the number one school for entrepreneurship, and my dad brought the three of us together on the idea of a drone flight school. Since our launch, we have won two business plan competitions and over $30,000 in cash, became an Authorized Dealer of DJI products, and have built out our Level I and Level II curriculum for the Phantom 2, Phantom 3, and the Inspire.
Tell us about the courses and training you offer, and how pilots benefit.
DARTdrones curriculum is broken into two levels: Level One Basic Training and Level Two Advanced Missions. Basic Training teaches a pilot about the FAA regulations and familiarizes them with the equipment of the drone. By the end of Level One, a pilot will be able to launch, fly, and land their drone with confidence. Our Level Two curriculum takes a deeper dive into the modes, features, and technicalities of your drone. Level Two helps pilots understand how to troubleshoot problems, fully understand all of their equipment, and helps them become comfortable with more complicated flights.
Are there any upcoming developments at your company (products, services, projects, etc.) you want to share with our readers?
We are currently focused on working with lifeguards to help them implement drones into their safety regulations and procedures.
Do you have an FAA certification? What was involved in getting it?
DARTdrones is one of only a few companies in the country with an FAA 333 Exemption to train drone pilots. Being granted the 333 Exemption is absolutely amazing! We are growing rapidly and currently offering DARTdrones Basic Training and Advanced Missions courses throughout the East Coast and New England. We continue to expand our team and offer courses in new cities. It feels great to have the backing of the FAA.
What are some of the characteristics of a great drone pilot?
A great drone pilot remains calm when they become disoriented. This way they don’t crash and they remain in control of their drone.
How do you make yourself and your business stand out in the crowd?
We offer trainings in a small class setting (8 students max) so that the customer gets the best educational experience we could possibly provide.
What advice would you give to others who want to get started flying drones?
TAKE OUR CLASS. Flying drones isn’t nearly as intuitive as you would think. Your drone is an investment, treat it like one and make sure that you know what you’re doing so you don’t risk crashing it!
What advances in drone technology are you excited about?
We’re really excited to see the new GoPro drone and the innovations they come up with. Find out more and sign up for a course at dartdrones.com.
Image: Karen Pike Photography
Video: DARTdrones Flight Academy
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