Don’t Be a Drone Dummy, Be a Legal Eagle!

57836149 - closeup photo white matte generic design remote control air drone with action camera flying sky under city. modern megapolis background. wide, front side view. motion blur effect. 3d rendering

By Detective Trent Koppel

Is it a bird, is it a plane, or could it be both? A little too cliché for you? Well the truth is the answer could in fact be both! Funny thing is… drones have similarities of both a bird and a plane! Keeping this in mind, have you ever wondered what it would be like to fly your own drone? Or does owning your own not interest you? Maybe the thought of utilizing one for a special event or promotional sake does? There are very few companies out there that are as certified and competent. It may not seem like a big deal, using a remote control “toy” to take pictures; however, what many people don’t understand, is that there is a huge responsibility that comes with operating your own drone. For instance, buying one for recreational use is great fun until you accidentally fly your new toy into a restricted air space! The Federal government frowns upon those who buy specialty “toys” such a these and fail to properly educate themselves on how, when, and where to use them. Yes, there are laws out there that every drone operator, no matter what their intended use, must know! Something Steve Schulte and his company’s partner Johnathan Hendrickson know all about!

Steve has developed an expansive portfolio, with over 10 years experience in commercial photography and cinematography. He also complements his aerial team as a FAA licensed A&P mechanic, custom building and maintaining Cinefly’s seven commercial drones. As a shooter, his industry work includes web media, broadcast spots, public events, and the film industry. One of many of his works include an Animal Planet production of Marshall the Miracle Dog, which just so happens to be a movie shot locally and was released in the fall of 2014. Besides shooting with the use of drones, his company often captures air-to-air photography and video from airplanes and helicopters.

Hiring a company that is fully insured with certified remote pilots is essential. Why, you ask? Take for instance a running event that I attended along with 3,000 other participants. The event coordinator hired a company to fly drones over not only the event itself, which they used for promotional sake on their website, but then used it to keep a watchful eye on the available parking space. The drones were literally sent out to survey the area in an attempt to help guide race goers on “open parking” spaces many blocks away. The parking attendants then radioed to other attendants to allow for better event coordination.

A more recent event I was a part of was a car tent sales event. The man running this event has, for several years now, hired a licensed drone operator to film commercials promoting this sale one year in advance! He said people love the drone footage. and that it allows potential buyers to see the enormous inventory they have to choose from when buying their next car. Both Schulte and Hendrickson agree it’s better to fly smart and not compromise your shoot with inferior and uninsured pilots. So before you go out and buy your first drone, you may want to visit This way you can learn all the laws and inquire about every certification you’ll ever need on how to be a responsible drone owner and operator!

One other small fact: drones can be useful in all sorts of situations. Law enforcement are just now incorporating them in their daily function. Please keep in mind, drones can ne as small as your thumb, or can be as big as golf cart. Like anything, the bigger the “toy” the bigger the price tag. If you want something special, you will be paying for it. The average drone can costs upwards of five thousand dollars!

There is no better way to promote your business than by hiring out a professional company to do aerial photo shoots or cinematography for special events or simply as a way to promote your business, but before you do, please consider doing a little research. The legal ramification you’ll suffer through by not hiring experts will only end up costing you more in the end!

Trent Koppel is a St. Louis-based detective and adjunct professor at Maryville University.

For 20+ years, the MEET family of products have provided regional and national resources that have kept corporate, association, medical, education, independent, and religious meeting and event planners informed about relevant vendors, industry news, tech innovations, and resources that impact and influence how and where they plan their group business.

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