Changing Lanes – Starting out as a commercial drone pilot from nothing!

I remember the moment vividly! I was sat at my desk daydreaming about where else I could be, and what else I could be doing. After nearly 20 years in publishing, selling advertising space, I decided that it was time to make some kind of change. I didn’t know what, but I knew I had to do something! It wasn’t even a mid-life crisis (Yes I know I don’t look 43!) I just needed something different.

These words accurately describe the moment when my commercial drone operation was born. Having been flying UAV’s for many years, I hadn’t even considered the possibility that I could make serious amounts of money out of doing the thing I loved to do!

This is a situation that many people find themselves in. Stuck in a rut, unsure of what to do, and not sure if they can afford to take the risk! Well, here is an option that is low risk, easy to develop and with high returns!

From Scratch

Many people who come through the doors of our drone academy have never flown a drone in their life! That might surprise you but it’s quite true. So here is a rough guide to how a lot of those people end up flying drones for a living.

The drone industry is unique in that you can build your business whilst being employed. (I also co-own a large publishing business) but getting qualified isn’t easy. It takes time, dedication, a willingness to learn and practice. So if you have all of those attributes here’s how you could make a start.

1.Attend a workshop or taster day

Many industry-training companies will have a taster day, or basic workshop in order to familiarise you with the technology. If you are considering investing time and money in a new career these can be priceless. We run a monthly workshop called “An introduction to UAV Technology” This includes some basic advice on safety, air law, equipment care and also an hour of basic flight tuition. If you attend one of these and still want to forge ahead, go for it!

2. Buy a drone and get flying!

As the title suggests, nothing complicated! You need at least a month of practical experience before moving onto the interesting part

3. Find somewhere that delivers CAA Approved Training.

There are about 35 NQE’s in the UK delivering CAA approved training (like us) We deliver a unique mix of practical and classroom based training. Following the classroom-based course, we help you develop your ops manual, prepare for your flight assessment, and get ready to roll. Our instructors are all qualified operational commercial drone pilots as well as career aviators.

4.Qualify and apply for your PfCO-Permission for Commercial Operation

You need permission to operate from the CAA. There is no such thing as a drone licence! We can help you with this if you wish.

5. Sell yourself silly!

We also offer a range of ‘Beyond PfCO’ courses including sales, marketing, photography, aerial surveying and many more.

Many successful drone pilots I know have full-time jobs or run other businesses. You can take the time to develop your new career whilst managing your exit from the last (assuming that’s what you want) You’re in control. If you want to know more and you fancy a chat why not give me a call. You will find that I love to talk about drones (just ask my anyone!)

So, if you’re where I was and would like to get to where I am, give me a call on 01353 771459 or email

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