Drone Industry In Maine Mirrors National Growth
” Last spring, Augusta photographer Thomas-john Veilleux was betting big on the role that unmanned aircraft, commonly known as drones, could play in his business.
When Veilleux spoke to the Kennebec Journal in April, he’d just received his commercial drone operator’s license from the Federal Aviation Administration after a half-year wait. He’d also acquired at least one quad-copter drone at a cost of $1,300 and was making plans to use it for some pro bono work during the early summer.
His fleet has grown to four. He has shot senior photographs, wedding parties, real estate and construction projects using the remote-controlled aircraft. And he drives a white Jeep prominently advertising his drone services under their new name, Maine UAV.
“ I think I’ve found my niche,” Veilleux said, adding that about 75 percent of his drone work has been for real estate companies needing aerial views of homes.
The growth of Veilleux’s own operation has mirrored ongoing growth across the drone industry.
It’s now easier than ever for people wanting to fly drones for commercial ends to do so, whether to photograph football games, inspect power lines or monitor blueberry crops. Last year, when Veilleux decided to get into commercial drone photography, he had to apply for a special permit from the FAA. About 5,500 of those licenses have been issued since 2014.”