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Perth home to top gun drone pilot schools

VETTI KAKULAS, Business Reporter, PerthNow

October 26, 2016 11:53am

 IT’S the pilot school where you keep your feet on the ground, but get to finesse your flying skills, just like Goose or Maverick of Top Gun.

Perth is home to two schools for top drone pilots, with the students’ aviator sunglasses trained on six figure salaries.

With the best operators earning up to $150,000 a year and demand for drone imagery soaring, the profession is taking off.

IT’S the pilot school where you keep your feet on the ground, but get to finesse your flying skills, just like Goose or Maverick of Top Gun.

Perth is home to two schools for top drone pilots, with the students’ aviator sunglasses trained on six figure salaries.

With the best operators earning up to $150,000 a year and demand for drone imagery soaring, the profession is taking off.

Global Drone Solutions chief executive Mahmood Hussein, who runs a pilot school in Applecross, said demand for drone services had “skyrocketed” in the mining, real estate, photography, transport and delivery industries.

The other school is RPAS Training & Solutions in Jandakot.

Mr Hussein said there were likely to be more than 600 certified pilots in Australia by the end of this year. That’s up from just 25 in 2007.

“Drones have only got traction in the past three years,” Mr Hussein said.

“They take the dull and dangerous out of a job and do it quicker.”

On mine sites drones are replacing surveyors in measuring stockpiles.

“It can take a surveyor with a scanner up to three days to do up to five stockpiles. A drone can do that in 30 minutes with more accuracy,” Mr Hussein said.

“It’s rapidly becoming something many professions will need if they want to remain relevant and employable in the future jobs market.”

Chris Garnaut finished the course a month ago and has started his own aerial photography business WAabove, pronounced “way above”.

“I was working away for the past seven years and I thought it was time for a career change,” the 30-year-old from Fremantle said.

“I’ve done a few real estate shots and have some weddings booked in, I really enjoy taking coastline pictures.”

Federal Parliament passed legislation last month that allows people to operate small drones weighing less than 2kg without the need for certification.

“The change in the rules is great,” Mr Garnaut said. “It means there will be an increased amount of drones in the air.”

Fast Insight co-owner Stephen Feast is looking at using drones to eliminate weeds and bugs on WA farms.

Using an Ag Rotor, the technology includes a multi-spectral camera to identify affected crops.

“The technology we have could lift 10 to 20kg of spray packs to target weeds, but also can fly for up to an hour or longer with just the camera on,” the Bayswater resident said.

“There’s no other technology in Australia that can do that.”

 

vetti-flies-phantom-3VETTI’S TIPS FOR ROTOR ROOKIES

Reporter Vetti Kakulas said her first attempt at flying a drone was easier than she had expected.

“And no, I didn’t crash the drone on my first day of pilot training,” she said.

“After 30 minutes I think I got the hang of it and was pleased when Global Drone Solutions’ boss Mahmood Hussein said I was a ‘natural’.

“It’s similar to using a games console, with two joysticks and buttons to fly the DJI Phantom 3, which retails for about $1000.

“My tip for rotor rookies is not to freak out if the drone is close to hitting you or a spectator in the head.

“All you need to do is fly the drone immediately upwards, away from harm and potentially embarrassing injuries.”

 

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