GALION — Don Zsigray hasn’t owned a drone for long but it has quickly become a passion, so much so that he after two months operating a smaller one, he now has a drone that necessitated he get his license to fly—drones that is. He is now a drone pilot.
His career is far removed from drone piloting, though surely the drone requires some technical expertise. He said he needed a hobby, something to do after working on computers all day.
“I have well over 20 years building and repairing computers. I do run Galion PC,” he said.
He and his family have been Galion residents since 2009 after moving here from Lorraine County. He and his wife have two teenage sons and a five-year-old daughter.
“I’ve had a smaller DJI Mavic Air for a couple of months and that was my foot in the door,” Zsigray said. “They weigh less than 250 grams so you do not have to register them with the FFA.”
Now, just a couple of months later, he has another drone, a Mavic Air DJI 2, a much bigger drone. Its specifications include a 1.5 inch image sensor, video and photo capabilities (which is smaller does also has), cinematic 8K hyperlapse and quick shots, and a flight time maximum of 34 minutes, but Zsigray said it depends on flight speed and weather conditions.
“It has much better picture and video quality,” he said.
He recently spoke to another drone pilot who builds his own drones, which can fly up to 90 miles an hour.
“Those are used for tricks and stunts and racing. I don’t know how fast actually his go but he’s told me he gets make two to three minutes of flight time,” Zsigray said. In other words, the demands made by the operator significantly impact battery usage.
“It [a large drone] does have to be registered with the FFA. You have to take a safety course: you also have to pass that safety course,” he said. He added that a drone pilot must be at least 13 years of age to be registered with the FAA. However, they do make drones for children as young as five; they are smaller and don’t fly as high.
Rules for recreational hobbyists include, but are not limited to, passing the UAS safety test, registration with the FAA, follow community-based safety guidelines, and never fly near aircraft.
Certification is required to commercially fly a drone for selling photography, for example. Certification also applies to YouTube videos, because they can be sold.
Zsigray has shared some impressive images on Facebook with ranges that give the impression he might be flying an airplane, but it is his Mavic Air DJI 2.
“It doesn’t matter what size drone you have, you cannot fly past 400 feet without approval from flight controllers, which most of your smaller drones won’t allow you to go above 400 feet,” he stated.
Don’t think about asking to hire Zsigray, at least for the time being.
“I am not a commercial drone pilot,” he said. “I am recreational only. I cannot get paid whatsoever.”
If a drone pilot wants to offer commercial drone services, they need to begin with Part 107 remote drone certification. The FAA grants this certification to all drone pilots who satisfy the minimum requirements, pass a Part 107 knowledge test, and clear a background check.
Drones are used for photography, surveillance, package delivery, journalism, search and rescue, disaster response, asset protection, firefighting, agriculture and more.
For example, most recently drones are being used by the Ukraine military in its defense against Russia, including Turkish drones and the Mavic DJI 3.
Drones helped Ukraine stall a convoy of armored vehicles headed toward Kyiv, dropping small explosives on the lead vehicles. Ukraine has also used drones for surveillance of Russian troops.
Zsigray started a Facebook group page called Galion Drone Pilots in the past week.
“It’s a group for pilots and for the public in general,” he said. “Pilots can talk about our drones, our hobby, the public can learn from us, the public can see whatever photos and videos we post. People are more than welcome to post a sale listing for their drone,” he added. Currently four or five members of the group are pilots, one of them a commercial pilot.”
Visit the group page and enjoy the images and videos by Zsigray and the other pilots. Fans are particularly intrigued by the 360 degree images that are actually 20-30 shots taken by the drone and then “stitched” together into one rotating image.