Vinh Nguyen has been a dedicated DroneBase Pilot for about 9 months and FAA certified for nearly a year. Like many of our other Enterprise Pilots, Vinh has amassed a great deal of experience and has flown 40+ Client Missions with DroneBase to date.
He attended Unmanned Vehicle University in 2016 and obtained both the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Project Management Professional Certificate and UAV Pilot Training Certificate. Aside from the technical training through UVU, He's also part of the Drone U Community, which in his words has been "instrumental" in obtaining relatable information relevant to many industries to find your niche and develop a competitive advantage.
We had the pleasure of connecting with Vinh to learn more about his background and experience with drones. Read on to get a behind-the-scenes look at the life of one of DroneBase's Enterprise Pilots.
How did you get into drones?
I was first exposed to drones while working at my previous job in the mobile industry and through social media in 2014. One my first memories was being blown away after watching a demonstration video of FPV drone racing. Technology has always been one of my greatest passions and the thought of a pilot controlling a remote craft over long distances while receiving live HD stream was intriguing, to say the least. Some routers can barely cover homes, and I thought to myself, “How were these drones able to fly for thousands of feet?” Naturally, it left me wanting more.
Are you a full-time pilot?
Being a commercial drone pilot is my primary occupation, however, many of my other passions help to support and sustain my lifestyle in this career. I’m also a street dancer/dance teacher, DJ, and Airbnb Super Host. These other passions and pursuits have a very flexible schedule and synergize well with the necessities of living the drone pilot lifestyle.
In your own words, describe what it's like to fly a Client Mission with DroneBase.
The initial scope [of most Client Missions] is approachable for a wide range of skillsets, however through its evolution, the scope and difficulty can rise to a much steeper curve, [suitable for well-trained pilots]. Pertaining to flight paths; the difficulty remains accessible and patterns are straightforward. [The most challenging part] is accounting for the large volume of variables each location presents, while ensuring that all scope parameters are successfully and consistently met. Just missing one variable can result in an unusable deliverable.
"These missions require and encourage pilots to develop a systematic workflow and a lot of organizing, especially post flight with thousands of images need sorting."
The experience has been extremely smooth; from onboarding, pre-flight, fly day, post feedback summary and finally getting paid. The support, communication, organization provided from DroneBase on the backend is as equally important as the pilot. Nick and Chris were a pleasure to work with and provided all the necessary support at every step of the way, true professionals.
Is there a certain kind of mission you prefer?
I enjoy and value the enterprise missions I’ve been doing with DroneBase which have been R&D in nature. The reasoning being is: by going through this process, I’ve developed a deeper understanding of what works and also equally important, what doesn’t. This also encourages more creative and critical thinking into problem solving for the objective. In addition, there’s also an understanding of why, how, and when something works.
The missions were spread all over the west coast were geographically and structurally diverse, and because of all this, it provided a lot of valuable experience.
What kinds of pilots do you think Enterprise Missions are suitable for?
For cell tower inspections a pilot must be highly organized, efficient, and be able to employ a systematic approach to capture data (required by the scope) with high consistency. Things like having inconsistent gimbal angles, inadequate overlap, unnecessary shadows, and inefficiency can really bring down the quality of the model generated. These are some of the many factors that need to be taken into consideration to yield the best results.
DroneBase definitely has pilots of this caliber with the right systems and culture in place to foster such growth even in brand new pilots.
What defines you as a high-quality pilot?
Having a diverse background that marries technicality, technology, movement, visual, and musical artistry has really given me a competitive advantage in the drone industry. For example, being a dancer and DJ has given me an incredible amount of experience in understanding movement complexity, spatial awareness, storytelling with emotional content, and sensible timing to music. This has helped expand my toolbox, understanding, and connectivity to the workflow from multiple angles.
Picture this: you’re a drone pilot filming a vehicle traveling down a road and your job is to follow, and perhaps, orbit the car while keeping it in frame the entire time. For this scenario in terms of movement complexity, the drone is orbiting around the point of interest through X and Z axis’ while ascending on the Y-axis and having the gimbal pan up or down.
Now what if the car was a dancer instead? Now let’s take it one step further: what if you were the dancer being filmed. You have to do a dance combination where perhaps your feet are doing one concept, your head and body another, all while spinning in a straight line across the floor. Now imagine that all that had to be executed while maintaining constant spatial awareness (being aware of where you are going, the relationship you are in that space, where the camera is) all while being musically concise with your body in real time.
We're proud to have Pilots like Vinh on our team. If you'd like to check out more of his work, connect with him on his website, Instagram, or Facebook. If you'd like to HIRE a pilot like Vinh for your business needs, contact us today!