Assume some guy or dude walk up to your company and offer drone services show he done this and that and got certified paper that he can handle the drone flight? Was the paper good enough to convince you to hire them? By 2013 drone flying for aerial photography services grown like mushroom, anyone can grab any out of box flying drone and fly without need extra flying lesson thannks to electronic assist flight/autopilot. However if the electronics fail will they able to recover into safe flight without cause severe injury to ground property and lives. Will the client able to responsible for the insurances. OK lets cut the chase and do some check list what you should check before hiring one.
- Check if he/she has a background of competent R/C hobby flying or with R/C flight clubs. People from R/C clubs are extremely experience and always follow flight rules, pretty much common sense when you're in their packs.
- If he/she good and reputable drone pilot try google.com around the internet. You should able to trace the individual easily. Internet is your friend.
- Experience in flying wing/airplane models. People who are flying planes for many years know how to handle through various wind condition and dead stick control. These people understand the airflow, stall speed control and how to get around various weather condition. If they are R/C "Scale" airplane or 3D pilot that is even better since they are very good at perfect smooth maneuver, take off and landing with limited space to spare.
- Is he/she "Master builder"? A person who build/assemble flying models have higher understanding how flying hardware works and knows what to do if technically something happen in the air. Things like GPS Hz reliability, servo stress load, wind vs propeller pitch, ESC load, video frequency propagation and etc.
If none above were met don't even try to hire them. Basic flight experience talk bigger than just showing some approval paper.
Okay try this simple test especially if the pilot is a multi-rotor flyer or autopilot assisted flight:
- Go buy any R/C model airplane you think its nice. Go buy a beautiful warbird or scale plane for more challenge eg: Electric jets, Corsair, P-40 or something looks nice to keep at home (usually they are cheap and mass in the market). Give them something more challenging to fly, by rules they should already be prepared to expect something beyond expectation coming for them, if they are highly experience they should have no problem flying it.
- Then ask the drone pilot to fly that plane that you choose "Visual Line Of sight" (LOS) just like any normal R/C flying hobbyist do (as per FAA requirement too). Check how he/she take off, circuit flight in the air and do perfect landing on wheels or belly landing if its on the grass especially in restricted landing/take-off space.
- If he/she flies the plane like Pro such as perfect slow landing, glide and etc he/she is good to hire. If the plane crashes, dented, scratches or ruin the finishing then you'll be the judge. As a FPV/drone pilot he/she should anticipate strict flying discipline and should never shows error in flight even slightest mistake because flying a drone like tossing a knife in the air and see where it drops in the crowds. Pilot must be proficient in flying regardless what platform they are in, this shows their level of past flying experience.
- That's it, easy right? If he/she complaining this and that go hire someone else highly experience before someone get injured or dented your reputation.
Well that's my simple advice above. Simple and dumb proof.
Okay here the real story i encounter at our local airfield.
An alleged UAV pilot working for oil company show up at our club field went to visit around and sight seeing... he got some buddies he went to meet. Seeing me flying my little mosquito size home made FPV V929 quad rotor around the bushes chuckles him a bit. So he approached and had chat saying he's a Pro Un-manned Aerial pilot flying thing high tech thing similar to my quad configuration but bigger in sized fully Auto pilot assisted. He was slightly mocking saying i should get a real big boys toys drone with serious FPV platform for real drone flight experience. Admitted himself the FPV V929 looks easy to fly so i passed my controller and FPV video goggle for tryout. Not even reaching 8 second he bumped around, crashes into several places and complain that the toy 3 axis gyro stabilization was bad, poor china boards. After wasting 2x packs of my lipo battery he ruined my GWS 5443 rotor blade, he gave up and passed to me saying i should get a real multi-rotor and walk-off. I didn't say anything, better not for someone talks big with crappy flight experience. I wonder how did he ended up getting a UAV job....hmmmm.
Few month later met my buddies who works in a similar field saying they had to spend thousand just to fix their company UAV thanks to some incompetent UAV pilot. That figures..