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Four Key Questions to Ask an Aerial Drone Photographer in Orange County, California.

Updated: Feb 11, 2023

Demand for commercial aerial photography is growing year over year, as a result more drone pilots offer aerial photography and videography services. In an effort to help locate a true commercial drone pilot you need to ask the following four key questions.

1. Does the drone pilot have a valid FAA Part 107 license?

In order to fly drones commercially all pilots within the United States need to pass the FAA's Part 107 UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) exam. If the pilot passed the FAA's Part 107 exam they will be issued a UAS pilot's license which looks similar to a drivers license with the drone pilot's information and certificate number. I've attached an image of one of our pilot's licenses for reference.

Aerial drone pilot

2. Did the pilot obtain FAA Airspace Authorization to fly within your city?

A common misunderstanding is that once you have obtained the FAA's Part 107 license you're ready to fly as long as you stay under 400 feet. The reality can be quite different, a prime example is the cities of Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and Irvine in Orange County, California. The entire city of Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and most of Irvine is considered Controlled Airspace C or "Charlie".

Due to the proximity of Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and Irvine to SNA (John Wayne Airport) local drone pilots needs explicit airspace authorization and have to fly at an altitude governed by the FAA's grid maps, which less 200 feet or less for most of the above referenced cities. Below is an image of one of our SNA airspace authorizations and the FAA's SNA grid map for reference.

FAA Airspace Authorization for drone photographers
FAA Grid Map for drone photographers

3. Does the drone pilot have Liability Insurance?

UAS liability insurance is similar to auto liability insurance, if the drone crashes or experience a fly-away scenario and causes any damage, either bodily injury or property you would need sufficient liability insurance to cover your exposure. Please verify that your drone pilot have sufficient liability insurance, liability options start as low as $500K, however I would recommend having at least $1M+ liability insurance.

4. Does the pilot have their own Aerial Demo Reel?

Piloting a drone to obtain cinematic aerial footage is a skill that needs to be practicsed and developed over time. Ask your pilot for a demo reel of their own which showcases their piloting, filming and photography skills. I'm planning to release a separate post going over key cinematic aerial shots in the near future to assist drone pilots in this regard.

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