John, 34, who did his commercial drone flying qualification with leading UK drone training company Flyby Technology has already used his drone skills to help a farmer find dozens of missing cows.
It’s one of the more unusual jobs he’s had since forming his own company, Aerial Blue Sky Productions.
John, of Crewe in Cheshire, has always been fascinated with flying and sent model aircraft soaring into the skies from the age of 8. He started with drones in 2012 before getting his first ‘serious’ drone in 2015, the Inspire 1.
John was a chef working exceptionally long and anti-social hours at the time and yearned for a career with more flexibility which his drone company has given him – especially now he has a young daughter.
While taking a one-year break from being a chef, John worked organising pyrotechnic shows for a fireworks company and when the videographer who usually filmed the displays using a drone was unable to make it, John took to the controls and did a great job filming the display. He knew from then on that this was what he wanted to do as a business.
John was very unimpressed with the first drone training company that he joined to do his Permission for Commercial Operation (PfCO) course.
“I did a week-long course with them but wasn’t getting anywhere with my operations manual,” said John. “They kept saying they would help me but never did, so in the end I just gave up with them and went to Flyby Technology.
“Since then I’ve never looked back. Right from the first phone call they were very welcoming, organised and efficient. My operations manual is now very different and has absolutely everything in it I need and laid out in such a way the constant reminders are there to make sure I do it right first time, every time.
“Almost all the instructors come from a military background which means they look at everything down to the smallest detail and you are taught the right way. Everything they teach is fully thought through and proven with reasoning behind it.”
John learned everything from air law and flight planning to the over-riding importance of risk assessment.
He added: “They also taught me how important it can be to sometimes have to say ‘no’ to a client when they want you to do something that can’t be done safely and within the law.”
John will soon be doing the new General Visual Line of Sight Certificate (GVC) with Flyby Technology and aims to eventually do all the courses offered by Flyby.
“Anything I can do to make me a better drone pilot then I will do,” he said. “I just want to be the very best I can be.”
One of John’s strangest tasks so far was to use his drone to help a farmer find 100 missing cows. It turned out some had wandered into a neighbouring farmer’s fields while two were discovered stuck in a brook. Five were never found and it’s thought they had been stolen.
John also helps a roofer do close-up, high resolution filmed assessments of house and business roofs.
He said: “It can save hundreds of pounds in scaffolding and means the roofer’s customer can clearly see the evidence of the problem which he can explain fully to them and advise them what needs doing to repair it. With one lady, the drone showed little wrong with the roof even though another roofer had said it needed thousands of pounds of repair work. My roofer could see only a couple of tiles needed replacing which he did and saved her an absolute fortune. Drones can bring such clarity to things people usually find impossible to see.
“It’s great that the drone’s cameras can zoom right in which means the drone can be kept a safe distance from the buildings at all times. It can even pick out the smallest of cracks in tiles.”
John is well used to working under pressure and during the coronavirus lockdown helped a friend livestream funerals via Vimeo to up to 50 family members who couldn’t be there.
He said: “That really was pressure – especially at first. Only a very few family members were allowed to actually attend the funerals so we had to make sure the live-streaming was spot on no matter what internet problems we needed to overcome.
“I’ve always had that ‘can do’ mentality which I’ve taken into my drone business alongside what I’ve learned from Flyby and its founder Jon Parker. Their mantra is ‘there is never a problem, there is always a solution’ and that’s why their training is the best there is in the UK.”
Jon said: “When we heard that John was expanding his business we were delighted. It is always a pleasure to work with those who wish to take things to the next level. We can’t wait to help him achieve everything he has planned.”