Give a Kid a Drone and Watch Their Minds Soar

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or UAVs, or more commonly, drones, are increasing in popularity as they become more affordable and commercially available. Once the exclusive province of the military, drones with cameras then made their way to law enforcement for search and rescue operations, mining and technology firms to scout sites and equipment, to professional photographers taking impressive footage for REALTORs or advertisements.

Now, drones are in the hands of regular folks, who are intrigued by the technology and have a love of flight. Drones can be fun for everyone if they learn how and where to use them. They are especially fun for kids interested in science and technology. The skills learned in drone flight operation are transferable to many careers that need drone pilots.

Let’s take a look at some reasons why giving kids drones with cameras is a good idea, along with some precautions for eager parents to be aware of. At Sky Eye Films, we run Kids’ Drone Classes, so we’ve been around the block a few times with the awesome -- and not-so-awesome -- things that can happen when you put a drone controller in a kid’s hands.

You Learn About Piloting

To control a UAV, you need to learn to think and talk like a pilot. There is a lot of vocabulary and many concepts to master. Terms such as telemetry, pitch, roll, and yaw, accelerometer, and gyroscope will need to be part of your lexicon. Not only do you need to know what they mean, but how they affect the drone’s flight. You need to know when and how much to adjust them to orient the drone in the direction, speed, and height you need. DRONELIFE has a  Drone Definitions Guide that can help teach your kids (and help you not appear dumb when talking to them about their drone).

You Get Outdoors

It is advisable to start learning to control your drone indoors, in a gymnasium or other open space with a high ceiling and not much to bump into. However, the real fun of drone piloting is being outdoors. As parents, you’ll need to be prepared to take your kids to unused sports fields or parks for practice. You’ll also want to check your local regulations to be sure drone flight is permitted in those areas.

While there is some transfer of skills from playing piloting video games such as Call of Duty, flying a drone requires you to understand environmental conditions and spatial relationships. These skills are not needed when sitting in front of the video game monitor. Plus, there are no cheat codes when learning to fly a drone. You get better at it the old-fashioned way -- by practice.  

You Learn About Drone Pilot Careers

Many people only think of the military applications of drone piloting. But the fields in which UAV flight is now a full-time job continue to grow. Your child’s hobby of playing with drones with cameras may turn into a viable -- and high-paying -- career.

Here are a few:

  • Motion picture or sporting event camera operator: Drones dramatically reduce the cost of action and aerial footage, which previously required booms, dollies, or helicopters.

  • Geological and agricultural exploration: Drones fitted with electromagnetic sensors can be used to gather information to help approximate the location of minerals, oil, and natural gas. Drones can also be used for geological surveying and even to aid in agriculture to measure the height of crops or look for the presence of livestock.

  • Aerial Surveillance for Businesses: This isn’t just for security. Farmers use drones to monitor livestock. Power companies monitor lines as well as windmills and turbines. Oil companies monitor rigs and pipelines. Fire departments use drones to monitor and track wildfires. There are many commercial applications.

  • Search and rescue: Drones fitted with infrared sensors can be used to detect humans by their heat signature.

  • Disaster relief: Drone footage has been extremely helpful in learning the extent of a flood or other natural disaster. Drones can even be fitted with additional sensors and attachments to be able to deliver supplies and medications to otherwise inaccessible areas.

Drone Cautions for Parents

Drone piloting comes with its share of mishaps. Drones that make contact with a hard surface may break and require parts -- and patience -- to repair. Use this as an opportunity to help your kids understand consequences and budgeting. Be prepared for some breakage. It is inevitable. Your kids need to learn.

Parents and youth pilots should familiarize themselves with the rules governing recreational flights, including which geographic areas and altitudes are prohibited. This and much more information can be found at www.faa.gov/uas.

Check out regulations in your area. If you live in a place with a Homeowners Association, it may be against their covenants to fly a drone over someone else’s home. In some areas, you need to get a permit to fly, such as on college campuses or some municipalities.

Give your neighbors a heads up at the very least. You don’t want your kid’s new drone to be shot down or start a rift with someone. This can also be a great teachable moment for your kids to learn respect and how to be part of a community.

Join a Flying Club

UAV hobby groups and flying clubs exist throughout the United States and the world. Joining a local club or interacting with an online group is a great way to meet others who are passionate about flying drones with cameras. It’s also great for picking up tips and techniques for both flying and repair and maintenance. Being part of this group is something you can do together with your kids.

KIDS DRONE FLYING CLASSES

At Sky View Films, we train UAV pilots of all ages. Our Peak Drone School runs for one week, in most cases, and gives participants all the knowledge they need to pass the FAA Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Certification Exam, and enables them to get into the market quickly. Our one week class is perfect for realtors, police officers, firefighters, construction companies, and even roofers.

Our Kids Drone Flight School trains kids on a variety of drone platforms and teaches them how drones are used. This is a hands-on program where kids fly real-world missions. They will participate in search and rescue ops, obstacle courses, code-breaking activities, and individual and team challenges. Kids use the drones we provide for them, for learning, and get a mini-drone of their own through the program. Our instructors are also available to recommend drones, to the parents, based on their needs and desires for their children.

Let us help teach your kids both the wonders of drones and the intricacies of flying one. Contact one of our instructors today, and we’ll help get you started with this fun and exciting hobby and possible career.