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Barnstormers Logo ISSUE 354 - December 2014
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A New Generation of Flight

Drones are making headlines everywhere as of late; you can’t go a day without hearing of the latest drones or seeing incredible footage taken by these devices. The proliferation of drones in our nation’s airspace has created myriad business and recreational opportunities and rekindled interest in flight, with thousands of new enthusiasts. It has also brought up safety and privacy issues that need to be addressed.

With new technologies, there comes a ‘tipping point’ where the cost drops down enough, the technology becomes easy enough to use, or a combination of both, that leads to mass adoption. The internet is a fantastic example; in just two short decades, it’s become a critical part of our lives, but it spent decades being used by scientists and specialists before technological advances made it available to the mass market. For the drone/UAV industry, the tipping point was the Phantom series of drones from DJI Innovations.

Before the Phantom, multi-rotor drones were a do-it-yourself hobby, for those who had the technical knowledge to build one from a kit or design one on their own. The Phantom series was the first multi-rotor to come assembled and ready to fly, with capacity for a professional-level camera and battery life sufficient for useful or fun flights, for a price most small businesses or interested consumers could afford. It became the hottest-selling drone on the market, and has remained the top choice through multiple new versions, even as other companies have entered the market with their own competitors to this highly capable drone.

The Phantom 2 includes two primary variants, the Vision+, which is a truly-all-in-one ready to fly system including integral camera on a stabilized gimbal, and a second version that includes a stabilized gimbal for GoPro cameras. Both versions feature best-in-class flight times, HD or 4K video and crisp still photos. The sophistication of the Phantom 2, including GPS-assisted navigation and position hold, a panic mode that returns the drone to its launch point, and intuitive controls, makes it easy to pick up and fly right out of the box with no prior experience.

Phantom 2 Drone

These capabilities have given professionals from wedding photographers to real estate agents a tool that creates entirely new opportunities. Action sports stars can get footage from new angles, farmers can inspect fence lines and livestock herds, and amateur photographers can find new ways to express their creativity. The new generation of drone operator is often more interested in what the drone can do than in building, repairing, and mastering their drone itself. And there’s nothing wrong with that! Plenty of people drive cars without being mechanics or expert drivers; the Phantom extends that ease of use to the air.

Fortunately, with the rise in drone popularity, it’s easy to find the tools and services consumers need to keep their drones in the air and get the most out of them. Just like a trusted mechanic is a must for drivers, a trusted drone technician can make all the difference for drone pilots. If you misjudge a landing or simply want an upgrade to your drone, a solid technician can make life much easier. For new pilots, it’s far easier to send your drone in for repair than risk further damaging a thousand-dollar investment. Even long-time hobbyists often trust the experts to fix their drones given the increasing complexity of these devices.

It’s important to consider the experience and integrity of a shop before trusting your drone to them. One great example is Atlanta Hobby, located twenty minutes outside of Atlanta, GA. As a DJI-certified repair shop, they are fully qualified for repairs and upgrades on your DJI drones, and every member of the department is an expert pilot and technician with extensive experience before ever being hired as a tech.

DJI-certified Repair Shop

Atlanta Hobby President Cliff Whitney is a licensed private pilot who lives on an airstrip in Cumming, GA. He’s built Atlanta Hobby with a deep understanding of the differences between manned and unmanned aviation. We talked with him recently about the company, and how his tech support has gained such a stellar reputation.

“Every drone that comes in is checked, repaired, and test flown by two of our technicians,” Cliff said. “Each of our techs is an expert, but we want to make sure nothing is missed. We stake our company every day on providing expert service, and we make sure to do the job the right way and fix the problem the first time, every time.”

It doesn’t hurt that Atlanta Hobby is one of America’s largest drone/ multi-rotor dealers, and thus carries almost every spare part one could need in stock for quick turnaround times. Even long-time drone operators would be hard-pressed to match the expertise Atlanta Hobby can bring to bear on complex repairs or upgrades. From a broken motor to a flight controller upgrade, consulting a professional is recommended. Atlanta Hobby is an excellent example of what you should be looking for in a repair shop.

The other major service that drone operators need is training. With new FAA drone regulations due to be published soon, we expect that there will be stringent licensing requirements for commercial drone operators. FAA-certified training programs will most likely be necessary for anyone who wishes to use a drone professionally, and recommended for hobbyists that wish to get the most out of their investment. While the requirements are still being finalized, most observers expect the requirements to include a written knowledge test. recently released the UAV Ground School, a 100% online FAA-compliant training course that prepares students to take and pass the FAA private pilot’s knowledge exam. This course, an industry first, is available 24/7 through any internet-connected device, allowing students to progress and graduate at their own pace. Over 300 have signed up for the program in the first month, determined to get a jump on the competition when the FAA regulations go into place, and more materials are added every day to the already enviable knowledge base.

UAV Ground School is currently allowing drone operators to register and take the first lesson for free as a test drive, which is a hard deal to beat! Check out to learn how to get the most out of your drone.

Another great resource for drone operators is a new app available for iPhone/iPad that includes news on drone issues and products, a link to the UAV Ground School, and various tools and calculators for drone operators. It’s free and is easily the most comprehensive drone/RC app out today. Download it to get all the information you can ever need!

Screenshots of the FREE Atlanta Hobby App for iPhone/iPad

If you’ve been curious about joining the drone revolution, now’s a great time! Check out the Phantom 2 or even the new Inspire 1, DJI’s newest ‘prosumer’ level quadcopter, get some training and even have a repair shop standing by. It’s a great time to get into drones, so come take flight. We’ll see you in the sky!

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