Drones take flight in Liberty Hill
By Dana Delgado
While small drones have been all the rage across the country for their unlimited potential, UAV Direct in Liberty Hill is in on the ground floor and has been drawing a stream of customers to its full-sales, service, manufacturing and training facility.
“This industry will be huge,” said UAV Direct Technology Manager Eric Davis. “It’s not even 1 percent of where it will go.”
Located at 14365 W. State Highway 29, UAV Direct has established itself as a leader in selling custom, high performance, reliable, and easy-to-operate small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or drones as they are commonly referred to, for commercial and recreational use. As the models have evolved, the possibilities for aerial photography and videography are growing exponentially and expanding with the development of more practical applications in far-ranging fields.
Not surprising there has been a groundswell of interest that has fostered a serious following of the industry. Every Wednesday at 8 a.m., a training session is offered at the facility to familiarize individuals with the industry, explain the design and capability of various aerial models, and allow guests the opportunity to experience flying one of the drones.
John Ancheta of Copperas Cove was among those at a recent training session. The auto repair shop owner said that once a friend shared some photos with him taken from a drone in his native Hawaii, he was hooked.
“I loved it from day one,” he said.
So taken by the experience, Ancheta invited a friend and brought his son along to the Liberty Hill training in hopes of getting them interested. Completely captivated, Ancheta is on his second drone, upgrading from a basic model he purchased several months ago.
Richard Sivage made his way from Georgetown to the UAV Direct training to learn a little bit more and was blown away by what he discovered.
“I had seen drones on YouTube and had been following them for about a year,” he said. “When I came down to Liberty Hill for the training, I expected to find a little hobby shop. I was so surprised – impressed with the whole facility.”
Property attorney Lale Korkmaz of Houston also found irresistible the opportunity to learn more first hand. The experience of flying a drone at the facility, however, surprised her quite a bit.
“It was amazing,” she said as she passed the controls to another training participant. “It was very easy to operate. I’m just a hobbyist right now with no specific applications in mind, but it’s a developing area.”
In an hour of training, these attendees along with many others who have visited the facility have left impressed by the technology and its ease of operation or were affirmed by its unique purposefulness and sheer enjoyment.
“These are not remote control toys,” said Davis. “They are unmanned aerial systems – smart yet complex, but pretty darn easy to fly depending on the conditions. Their capability is limited only by one’s imagination.”
Davis said this was an “interesting era” for unmanned aerial craft, a new frontier much like the “wild, wild west.”
Being a relative new industry, Davis said the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration have been deliberate in their development and adoption of specific guidelines regulating the use of unmanned aerial craft. Recent and recurring rogue flights at airports, buildings and events, Davis believes, have contributed to the delay in final rulings by the FAA and the NTSB. For that reason and obvious concerns for safety, the tech manager emphasized the company’s persistent advocacy for safe and proper operation of the craft.
While there are no formal guidelines in place, unmanned aerial craft can still be used. Davis said that the craft must always remain in sight of the operator; it cannot exceed an elevation of 400 feet and it cannot fly over private property.
Davis said that professional photographers, cinematographers, ranchers, hobbyists and many others have taken to the idea of flying unmanned aerial craft.
Whether one is seeking to learn more or seeking guidance with a basic model or are in need of a tailored craft for a specific mission, UAV Direct is prepared to meet any need with its staff of experts and highly trained technicians.
The UAV Direct team is a member of the Association for Unmanned Systems International. Its diverse staff includes law enforcement veterans who actively participate in the Airborne Law Enforcement Association.
For additional information, visit www.uavdirect.com.