Feature image: A DJI drone filming a car rally. Courtesy of World Rally Championship and DJI.
UAV training does not end when you finally ditch your cheap beginner drone for a more expensive one. You need to keep practicing and challenging yourself in new ways to constantly improve your skills.
Whether you are still an amateur or have already gained a bit of experience flying drones, there are always new moves you can try and new skills you can learn.
If you feel like you are getting rusty or want to up your game, here are 5 challenges for you to try.
1. Advanced Aerial Photography/Videography
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Sure you’ve been taking some nice pictures with your drone. But don’t be content with a few amateur landscape photos. There is so much more to aerial photography than just point and shoot.
Even if you shoot for fun and are not planning to go professional any time soon, it doesn’t hurt to learn how to take better drone photos and videos.
If you are still a beginner, learn the basics of better drone photography and videography.
Tips like shooting in RAW, choosing the correct ISO and using available photo assist modes will help you take much better photos.
If you are already good with the basics, challenge yourself with different scenes and environments. Try some night photography, take videos of moving objects, do some urban drone photography and so on.
Keep looking for challenges that force you out of your comfort zone and require you to learn a new skill.
Also don’t forget that post-processing is just as important as taking the actual photo.
Note: If you are planning to get into professional drone photography or videography, I strongly recommend you take a professional drone training course.
2. Make a 3D Map
Your drone camera can do much more than just take sunset photos. With the right software, you can use it to make a detailed 3D map of a property or a piece of land.
Because most 3D mapping software cost money, this is mostly for drone owners who are planning to go pro. But if you have the money, you can also try it as a hobby. It’s really fascinating what you can create.
Some of the most popular 3D mapping programs you can use include Data Mapper, Pix4D and Drone Deploy. Check out this video below by Drone Deploy to get an idea of what it involves and what you can do.
3. Get a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certification
If you’ve just been flying your drone as a hobby, it’s time to take things to the next level. Start by getting a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certification.
With it you’ll be able to do so much more with your drone instead of just flying for fun.
For instance, you can decide to become a drone professional. Just pick up a specialization or several (drone mapping, real estate photography, infrastructure inspection etc.) and offer your professional services to companies, government agencies and professionals.
You can also get involved in non-profit projects such as emergency search and rescue and damage assessment. You’ll most likely need to work with an organization to do stuff like that.
A good example is SWARM (Search With Aerial RC Multirotor) which is a global network of volunteer drone pilots that provides free search and rescue services to families in need.
4. Make Money From Your Drone
Drones are high in demand in an increasing number of industries from agriculture to insurance. As long as you have plenty of experience, excellent flying skills and of course a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certification it’s fairly easy to start a drone business.
You can work individually as a professional or form a company where you can add more members to your team.
Business options include professional photography, videography, crop management, land surveying, 3D mapping, infrastructure inspection, drone repair and UAV training.
You can opt to work with companies, small businesses, individuals and even government agencies.
5. Build your Own Drone
If you are fascinated by the technical aspects of drone flying, building your own drone will give you a deeper understanding of how these small flying machines work.
There are many different types of drones you can build from small ones for FPV racing to larger ones for photography.
Note that building a drone, especially if it is your first time, is not a walk in the park. Fortunately, there are plenty of beginner guides and videos online you can use.
Whatever you decide to do, the most important thing is to keep getting better. Keep challenging yourself, developing your skills and venturing into new areas. As drones become more integrated into many fields, you’ll be glad you did.