17 January 2023
By Omari Garrett
One of my favorite toys as a kid were remote control cars. I would get a new one every year for Christmas until I was 11 years old, when I saw for the first time, a remote control helicopter. It was in the Toys R Us Christmas booklet they would send out every year.
I thought this was the coolest toy ever and of course put it on my Christmas list. I knew it was an extreme long shot because it cost more than what my parents could afford for me, but I knew one day I would buy one when I got older. Never at that time did I imagine that flying aircraft with a remote would become a career.
As drones became more popular I knew I would eventually buy one for fun. I enjoyed photography, and at times would shoot weddings and events for my father’s photography business. I had thoughts of using one as part of his business, but did not have the time to put my thoughts into action.
In late 2020, I had an opportunity to participate in a Part 107 prep course through Dart Drones. The course was exactly what I needed—not only to be ready for the exam, but also to light up my desire to jump into the world of drones. Within the next two months, I took and passed the exam to obtain my Part 107.
Around the time I took the exam, our family decided to relocate from Chicago to Arizona, so plans to begin using the Part 107 were put on hold for a few months until we got settled into our new home.
In May 2021, I bought my first drone—the DJI Mavic Air 2S. I read and watched so many reviews on the best drone for beginners. That model was just recently released and it was receiving rave reviews. I felt nervous spending so much for a drone when my budget was around $700, but I felt that if I put the work in, then I’ll be able to get that money back soon.
Now, the next thing for me to do was learn how to use the drone and learn how to make money using it.
I enrolled in the Aerial Video A to Z course through Drone Launch Academy. Through the course material, I learned flying, cinematography, and editing. I would go out every day for one or two hours, practice getting shots, and then editing the footage. I would also watch videos through YouTube, follow drone pilots through social media, and participate in drone pilot discussions on Clubhouse. I also got great advice and knowledge from my cousin, Brandan Stuckey, who had been a drone pilot for a few years.
I began feeling comfortable flying, so now it was time for me to start making some money. The first job that I secured was filming 7-on-7 for my cousin’s high school football team. When I was living in Chicago, I worked for a high school and the football coach would use a drone to film their practices and games. So, I asked my cousin if I could use my drone to film his team. I figured it would be good practice and experience.
After I filmed the 7-on-7 games, I was invited to film their summer camp for pay. After the summer camp, I was then invited to join their staff for the season as an assistant coach to film their games and practices.
After that 2021 football season, my confidence level went up, so I began establishing my company, High Valley Drone Services, and also seeking out freelance opportunities through other companies. Now, I provide services for real estate, construction projects, roofing inspection, video production, weddings, and more. I am looking to move into mapping and thermal inspections in the beginning of 2023.
I love being in this industry and seeing the growth of the field. Everytime I put my drone in the air, I get the excitement of that 11-year-old boy who saw remote control helicopters in the Toys R Us booklet.
Stuart Smith and The Droning Company have been a valuable resource for me throughout my Drone Pilot journey. Stuart reached out to me through Instagram in August 2021 to seek my interest in joining The Droning Company. His passion for drones and his vision for the company made it very easy for me to join. The Droning Company is the only company that I know of that connects you to drone jobs and does not take any commission.
I would recommend The Droning Company to any certified drone pilot who is looking for a user-friendly platform that allows you to create your own profile and find drone jobs.
Find Omari Garrett on flickr, YouTube, and Instagram.