We bought a drone two years ago, excited that it would open up opportunities for aerial photography. When I first flew the DJI Phantom 2 Vision, billed as “The Flying Camera”, I was blown away! It was easy to fly and using an iPhone as a remote screen I could get amazing photos from the air. What a boon this would be to our farm photography business! Aerial photographs of your farm would add an extra dimension to the photos in your Australian Farm Album.
But when I started to look further into the business opportunities, I learnt that it was prohibited to fly an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for professional purposes (anything other than for recreation) without a licence. So I looked at training courses and found that not only do I have to be accredited as a remote pilot, but I have to fly under the auspices of a business accredited with a Remote Operator’s Certificate. So for me personally and for Australian Farm Albums as a business to become fully accredited, we were looking at $5,500 in training, plus the application fees (about $600) to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and ongoing annual fees to remain accredited. And that looked like the end of my brief career as a remote pilot…
The Industry Skills Fund (ISF) made the difference when I learned that the fund can pay up to 75% of training fees, which will help a business to develop new business opportunities. The education must be provided by a registered training organisation and the training can be for business owners or employees. After submitting an initial enquiry via the website, I was contacted by the ISF and one of their agents came out and sat down with us to go through our business to get an idea of where the business was at, and the opportunities that new skills would provide. They then made a report outlining the training available, and over the last few months I have spent several days training in Perth, as well as completing online course modules, to become a certified remote pilot. The ISF will follow up afterwards because they need to see that the funding they are providing is improving the bottom line for businesses.
Now we have bought the latest model Phantom 4 UAV and I’m ready to photograph farms from the sky, without having to leave the ground!