As DroneDeploy and its user base continues to grow, we want to make sure that folks in this community are getting the recognition they deserve for their impressive map-making skills, enthusiasm, and progress made with DroneDeploy. Starting today, we’ll be featuring a dedicated DroneDeploy mapper each month in our latest forum board: Community Spotlight.
The first DroneDeploy mapper to be highlighted is Tim Schlabach of Skytographerz, a fully licensed drone services company based in North Carolina. Not only is Tim relatively new to the UAV industry (more on that down below), he’s also the winner of our January Map of the Month contest!
Let’s hear more about Tim.
What is your background and current role?
I started off as a commercial photographer in Los Angeles, but I moved to North Carolina to raise my family and continued with photography there. I focused mostly on shooting architecture and interiors. I’m currently the president of Skytographerz and have my Part 107, NCDOT UAS certification, and am also a certified infrared thermographer.
How did you become involved in the drone industry?
My son urged me to try out drones some time last year plus some of my clients wanted aerial photos. I lost a job once because I didn’t have proper licensing, but since I got my Part 107 from the FAA a lot of opportunities opened. I then got certified with FLIR for thermal imaging too. My son-in-law does web design and IT and helped kick things off with Skytographerz.
How did you come across DroneDeploy? Why was it ultimately the solution you decided on?
I became involved with an engineer working on a dam close to my house and he presented a challenge to me. I remembered getting an email from Parker (a member of the DroneDeploy Sales team) and chatted with him on the phone for 30 minutes about my challenge. Parker helped me realize I needed to shoot at oblique angles to make a better map. The 3D models in DroneDeploy were a neat addition too. DroneDeploy was more versatile than other programs I tried and the free trial allowed me to experiment.
What was your biggest challenge when entering the commercial drone industry?
The first time I used DroneDeploy it was a lot of trial and error. I needed to play around to get a feel to know what I can and can’t do. Drones aren’t widely accepted where I am since it’s rural area, but it helps to know your rights and local laws. I’ve talked to local sheriffs and police departments and now use thermal cameras helping with Search and Rescue operations.
What advice do you have for beginners?
There’s suddenly a lot of competition so you need a solid marketing plan. Talk to local law enforcement and see what you’re allowed to do. Make sure you have all your waivers and licensing by the FAA.
Thanks, Tim! It was impressive hearing how fast his skillset grew from the moment his son encouraged him to play around with drones to where he is now, as the president and pilot in command of his own drone services company. We hope Tim continues mapping with us and inspiring others to do the same.