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Hi everyone!

My name is Geoff Hassing, I'm new here on the forum and I'm looking forward to getting to know you all and learning as much as I can about UAV piloting and business. I've been a professional illustrator, cartoonist, and video game artist for the last 25 years.  But after going through neck cancer a couple years ago, I decided that I wanted a change of direction, and have recently become interested in possibly starting a drone videography business, focused on golf courses, tourism, and real estate. 

I'm still in the research phase, but I'm very interested in learning everything I can about all aspects of UAV piloting and business. And since I'm starting from scratch, I'm sure I'll ask a lot of stupid questions along the way. lol! : )

I guess my first  couple of questions are, because I've read conflicting things online, do you currently need the FAA 333 exemption to fly commercially? Or just register your drones with the FAA?  And reading through a couple other threads, some of you think the FAA 333 will go away when they finalize things in June.  If it does go away as far as being a requirement, do you think it would still be worth it to pursue an exemption, or do you think they'll come up with a specialized drone pilot licensing type of deal?  Aaand, the last one for now.... How many hours of flying do you think you should have under your belt before you pursue flying commercially?

Thanks in advance!

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There are no stupid questions - only stupid answers, which I will try to avoid.   The current state of FAA regulations require a 333 Exemption for all commercial UAV flights.  Even if you have an exemption you would still need to have a licensed (fixed wing, helicopter, hot air balloon,etc.) pilot operating the drone.  The current backlog for approval of a 33 Exemption application is several months - I've been waiting since Jan. It is widely expected that the FAA will release updated regulations in June,  It is widely expected, though not certain, that the new regulations will do away with the requirement for an exemption as well as the requirement for a licensed pilot.  There will probably be a new license or certificate procedure that will require passing some sort of test, probably not a flight test, though there's been chatter about a simulator test.  

So, you see, nothing is for sure, and that makes it hard to figure out what to do right now. I think if I were in your shoes starting out, I would get a "starter" drone to learn how to fly.  These drones don't cost too much and so won't set you back if you trash it. The key to learning is that the "pro" drones are actually easier to fly, so learning with a less advanced drone is like learning to drive a stick. When you move up to an automatic, it's like falling out of bed. I'm experimenting with 3d modeling right now, and once I program the flight, the damned thing actually flies itself, takeoff & landing included. I wouldn't worry about an exemption right away.  You won't need it to learn, though you will have to register your UAV, which you can do online.

As far as how many hours you'll need, only you can answer that one.  Once you feel comfortable flying your starter and have challenged yourself enough, you'll know it.  Could be 5 hours; could be 20; could be 50. Let's say that process takes you a couple of months.  There's a good chance we'll know a lot more about  forthcoming regs then, and you'll be able to make a better informed decision. In my opinion the only reason to file for an exemption now is to cover yourself if and when you'll be flying commercially.

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Thanks for the excellent reply Silk Purse, I appreciate it. : )  Oh, trust me, I'm sure I'll come up with a couple head-shakers along the way. LOL!

Yeah, I figure it's going to take me a few months to get my flying skills up to par, as well as figure out my business strategy, so by the time the FAA comes out with the new regs I should be able to plan around it.  I'm hoping they come out with a specialized UAV pilot licensing procedure over having to get the 333 exemption.  If anything, because I'm scared of heights where I don't feel secure and really have no desire getting a real pilots license.  With a UAV I can still get the thrill of flying without the risk. lol! I guess we'll have to wait and see. 

I got a UHI 818A for practice, which has been a lot of fun so far!  I only have a few hours of flying so far, and I think your comparison is a good one! Right now I'm driving the beat up Toyota version. LOL!

Thanks again SP!

 

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