Hangar 360

I’ve been taking part in the Hangar 360 beta test of their app that shoots 360 degree aerial photos. Click here to see a late winter 360 of my neighborhood in Central Pennsylvania. The app automatically captures 23 images which are uploaded to the cloud and stitched together. My image was shot with a Phantom 4.

If you fly real estate jobs I think the 360 shots are great for contextualizing a home in its neighborhood. I can see many uses for these 360’s.

Before starting-up the Hangar 360 app I run the DJI app and configure the compass, and take a look at the camera settings. Once that is done I go to the Hangar app. All you do is follow is follow the prompts and confirm a few check list items. When you press the launch button the app does a five second countdown, automatically launches the aircraft and takes it to 300 feet where it shoots the photos and asks you if you like to automatically land the UAV, continue flying, or land it yourself.

Once the UAV is back on the ground you can automatically load the photos to the cloud from the drone, or wait until later when you have WiFi or a faster connection. I uploaded right after I landed and once the upload is complete the app will have a thumbnail from the flight and the word processing over the thumbnail.

The entire flight process took less than 15 minutes. I had the link to my 360 in a couple of hours.

When Hangar 360 launches I think you should give it a try. For commercial pilots its another great option to offer you clients.


Luxury Home In State College

Slowing sales of high-end homes has real estate agents looking for every edge when marketing these properties. More and more agents are partnering with Pennsylvania SkyOps to shoot compelling listing photos and aerial video tours to engage buyers who are shopping online. Aerial video brings a dimension that engages buyers like never before.  Click below to see how we helped one real estate company experience elevated video marketing.

Cornfield Construction Site

Autumn is here and the corn harvest is almost complete. However, this flight wasn’t about harvesting the field in this shot. It was a dual-mission flight to document the site of a new construction project and to provide the aerials needed for a TV commercial. One of the requirements of the shoot was to capture the rural “feel” of the property, yet show that it was close to town.
The site will be home to a condominium project for seniors.
Flight Tip: Drone take-off in a cornfield stirs up a lot of husks that can get into the props. To avoid damaging your props, take a solid platform with you to use for launching your drone.

Part 107 Testing

If you plan on taking your “Remote Pilot Certificate” test at the end of August here is what you need to know to sign-up. I completed the process and scheduled my test for August 30th. Follow these steps and you’ll save yourself some time and aggravation. Before running these steps make sure you have your drivers license and a credit card in hand.

How To Register For the Part 107 Test

  1. You CAN’T schedule your test directly with the FAA-approved knowledge testing center.  Booking is done though CATS – the Computer Assisted Testing Service. Go to the CATS site to find a testing center near you.
  2. You CAN’T schedule your test online. You have to call 1-800-947-4228 and book with a CATS representative
  3. You will be asked for your name and address exactly as it appears on your license. They’ll also ask for your place of birth and you email address.
  4. The testing fee is $150. CATS accepts all credit and debit cards for payment.

Once payment has been approved by your credit card company or bank you will receive a confirmation email. You can view mine by clicking the link.

CATS Testing Registration Confirmation

TV Appearance

If you are near the TV at 4:30 this afternoon hop over to WTAJ Altoona PA. I’ll be making an appearance on the Perry Wellington Real Estate show to talk about using aerial video to sell your home. If you don’t see the show check out the video of two great properties here:

Give them a call if you want more information on these two homes.

After the home video I hope you enjoy the shots of First Presbyterian Church and Walnut Street in Hollidaysburg, PA. The sunlight was just right for some creative aerial photography.

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend!

Section 333 Exemption

The response to my drone videos has been incredible. The Logan Town Center videos have gotten over 10,000 views! Thanks for checking them out.

Your interest, combined with the FAA approving our Section 333 Exemption, has us flying commercially now at Pennsylvania SkyOps.

We provide a broad range of high resolution aerial photography and cinematography services that include:

– Residential and Commercial Real Estate
– Building Inspection (Roofs, Chimneys, Structure)
– Construction Sites and Architecture
– Insurance Claims
– Promotions for Country Clubs / Golf Courses / Wineries
– Agriculture applications
– Private Events such as weddings, family reunions

When our drones are finished with the aerial media production, our team can perform post-production services to complete your project. We edit videos to create the look and feel you want to include sound, coloring, visual special effects and more.

Pennsylvania SkyOps is Central Pennsylvania’s only Section 333 drone operation. We also carry $2-million dollars in bodily injury and property damage insurance so your flight is worry free.

Logan Town Center

An expanding fault on a mountain near a Central Pennsylvania shopping center has officials worried about a collapse. Inspecting and monitoring the fissure is a perfect use for a drone! No one put in danger having to walk up the hillside for a close look.  The zig zag on the right side of the photo is the fault. If there is a slide all the power lines running behind Logan Town Center will come down and threaten the backs of at least three stores.


Shooting about :20 feet above the fissure you can see how deep it is. Local TV and power company made use of our pictures. Would you test your piloting skills and go into the fissure for a really close look? I decided a blind decent wasn’t worth the risk. But a video of it emerging from the crack would have been awesome.


Hecklers, Spectators and Students

I don’t devote every flying day to snapping the picture that will get 1,000 likes on Instagram. I set aside training days devoted to improving specific skills like flying in windy conditions, or quickly being able to set-up a waypoint flight. When I train I try and go to a secluded area like an open field behind a school so I can concentrate on perfect practice. But I’d say almost every flight is interrupted by a heckler, spectator, or would-be drone owner.

The heckler is the person who immediately shouts “hey, you have a license for that?” Or, “I better not see that over my property or I’ll shoot it down.” And then there is the “you can’t fly that here.”

When confronted like this the first thing you should do is access your personal safety. Does the person confronting you have the visible means to hurt you or damage your gear? Take a look at the photo. Is that man a threat? At first glance he is a threat!   I’d be very concerned about what he can do with the cane he is carrying. I let the drone hover while assuring my own safety. Once I feel secure I land the drone and deal with the verbal threat. Auto landing comes in handy, but I like to land the aircraft some distance away to prevent a heckler from trying to damage the drone. I haven’t had anyone attempt to attack my drone, but why take the risk.

Next you should try and understand exactly what the person is  saying and the tone of voice they are using to say it. The “hey you have a license for that?” can be said in a threatening tone, or most often people say it using a sarcastic tone of voice. If they’re using a sarcastic tone I’ve found people use it as a lead-in to see if you are willing to answer questions.

If a heckler is using a threatening tone of voice I keep my speech patten very matter-of-fact and of normal volume. I tell them I am in compliance with all local laws and show them my FAA registration which I printed, laminated and attached to my lanyard. Showing my registration has worked every time to defuse this situation.

I use the same tone of voice for those who threaten a shoot-down. their property. I explain that people have gone to jail for doing that and conscientious pilots don’t fly over anyones property without permission.  If they don’t believe you point them to articles on the internet like this one.

Prison for Shooting Down Drone

I keep the link on my phone for quick access.

For the “you can’t fly here” folks I’ve show them the FAA’s B4UFLY app and prove I’m not within five miles of an airport.  I also tell these people I’m in compliance with all local laws.

You have to deal with these threats as courteously as possible otherwise you risk reinforcing all the negative news this person has probably hear about drones. No use feeding their preconceived notions that drones are peeking in peoples widows on a daily basis, or are a constant risk to commercial air traffic.

Spectators are usually harmless. If they don’t approach I look at them as a way to spread some goodwill about drones. My Phantom is usually in flight at this point so I always ask them to stay behind me for safety reasons and will then show them some basic maneuvers. If they don’t follow my safety instructions I land immediately and answer any questions they may have. All most all of them ask how high it will go, or how fast it can move forward or side-to-side. After they watch for a few minutes they usually continue walking the dog, finishing their run, or other activity. Once you land the aircraft the entertainment factor is gone, and they move on.

A few minutes spent on a flying demo or answering questions is good public relations is time well spent; then back to practice.

Finally, the students and would-be students. My last practice trip I had a gentleman tell me that he has a new Phantom 2 at home; the seal on the box still unbroken. He wanted me to teach him the basics of flying because he said it looked so easy while I was on the sticks.  I chuckled and told him he should have been around for the times I crashed my Phantom 2 or put in into some trees while I learned.

I could see the buyers regret setting in on his face. I wonder how many other drones are sitting in boxes because their owners are looking for teachers. Then there are the drone owners who have done a flight or two and have specific questions. The problem here is real questions can consume a lot of your battery life and practice time. I could just refer them to any number of video’s on the internet, but the interactive experience with a more knowledgeable pilot is the best training. So, I always take the time to answer questions and hopefully enhance the drone communities image.

Hecklers, spectators and students are going to be around until the novelty of drone flight wears off. Until that time you should have a plan for how you are going to handle a member of this trio on your next flight.

Oh, the guy in the picture. A gracious gentleman just out for a walk. His most threatening question. Can you take my picture?

Night Flight in Extreme Cold

Capturing an image that says “frigid” from a drone is a challenge. You could fly a bank thermometer, how cliche, or go to a ski slope, but shots there don’t relate whether it is 32 degrees or minus 32, so I shot a paper mill since the cold makes the stack output more dense. The shot turned out OK, but still didn’t convey the message. We’ll be trying again tonight since temps will be near zero and a snow storm is supposed to pummel the area this weekend.

FYI winds were 14MPH and the temperature was 10 degrees. So far no noticeable impact on battery life or performance of my Phantom 3 in the extreme cold.


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