Drone of the Future
By Delaney Vallee, Staff Writer
At the age of twenty eight, Dusty Newkirk is self employed and is an example of what the future of business may look like,“We are in a golden age right now where innovation and technology are advancing at a mind blistering speed.”
The entrepreneur, husband, and father decided to venture off on his own and become independently employed when his former job was leaving him with limited time for his family, “As it turns out, I was pretty well suited for sales and over the next 8 years I rose to the top of my sales organization at Charter Communications – ending with a corporate management job that required me to travel, a lot.”
Newkirk, though initially enjoying the success in his career, soon reconsidered. “I learned fairly quickly that once the flash of flying around the country 4 days a week and getting to spend inconceivable amounts of company money wore off – I wasn’t really satisfied with my job and my wife didn’t care for it either.”
Newkirk ventured out to find a new career that fulfilled his interest in technology and telecommunications, “I have always seen the practical use for sUAV’s (small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) in business.” Newkirk started his own company, SkyActiv Media, an aerial videography and surveying venture in Southern Oregon.
Newkirk took his interest for the new technology of drones and incorporated it into a business plan. “From the start I could see a great number of opportunities to integrate this emerging technology into marketing, agriculture, mining, construction, timber, wild land firefighting & SAR (Search and Rescue).”
Newkirk uses drones with high quality cameras to take photos and video footage of real estate, agriculture, mining, construction, and search and rescue, “We utilize sUAV’s to capture video, photo and data for clients that historically could only be done by hiring expensive full size aircraft or using dated satellite imaging systems. We are able to complete jobs more accurately, more effectively and most important – safer than traditional methods. We also operate in compliance with current FAA regulations and are fully insured.”
SkyActiv Media is one example of a business that is taking advantage of the new technology at their disposal. A DJI drone (one of the leading affordable brands in drones for aerial videography and photography) costs between $499 and $2,899 depending on the model. Comparing the less-than $3000 investment and the possible payback, Newkirk felt that it was a wise business choice. Taking about one hour per video shoot, and between one and two days to edit and have the video product ready, the money invested is made back swiftly. “The return on investment (ROI) can be very fast–as little as 6 months or less. For example, one of our sUAVs cost us $2,400 upfront and we can charge between $500-$2,000 per real estate marketing video… If you could schedule four video shoots a day, averaging $600 profit (after expenses like paying the video editor), you can see how quickly the ROI can be. ” And Newkirk is not the only one who feels that a drone may be an intelligent investment.
Many individuals believe the market for products made with drones is rising. Tim Wilson of Forbes predicted in an article last October that drones would be used for “aerial observation and imaging,” in the future, as well as other uses like package delivery once the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) makes clear regulations on drone flying.
According to the FAA’s website, as long as flyers of sUAV’s follow parameters listed in Section 336 of Public Law 112-95 (the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012) , drone flyers do not need special permission to fly. In addition to this, FAA has started a campaign called Know Before You Fly, which is intended to educate people who intend to fly drones for recreation. Know Before You Fly outlines safety guidelines that people can follow to avoid accidents, including where and how high to safely fly drones.
Drones flown to make money, do not yet have solid regulations and require special attention and permission from the FAA. People who plan to fly drones professionally can get a Section 333 Exemption or a Special Airworthiness Certificate.
Newkirk says with the industry of drones becoming more popular, entrepreneurs may want to consider incorporating this new technology into their own business endeavors to keep up with the times, “The sUAV industry is exploding and the revenue generated from this industry is only going up… There is always going to be resistance to change, technology and so forth – but I believe collectively we will always be pushing the limits and striving for bigger and better ways of accomplishing things – it’s simply human nature.”