It’s safe to say that the vast majority of drone pilots should consider the winter season as a lean time. Winter poses many obstacles for a drone pilot than any creative or tech job out there.
Even in places where it snows very little if at all, a drone pilot should expect to see a drop in their flights. However, all is not lost. Below are a couple of things to consider as well as things to do during the winter months.
You are Going to Lose Flight Time
The most notable attention for the actual drone will be a drop in the battery life. Low temperatures slow the chemical reactions within the battery which limits capacity and output. The optimal temperature for the battery is at or above 68°F (20°C).
You want to keep the batteries heated for as long as possible, before the flight. Whether it is for a job or for personal reasons it is best to keep the other batteries somewhere heated, such as a car or house, before swapping them in and out.
Less Sunlight and Quicker Sunsets
Less sunlight and quicker sunsets can lead to darker photos and less time to complete a job or task.
I do an aerial survey of a large tract of land that takes me a few hours to complete per visit. I use to be able to complete between 9am-3pm, now with the sunset being at 5 pm, I now have to be at the site from 7am-1pm.
For beauty shot drone pilot a quicker sunset means less time to get the right shot and fewer pictures to actually take, plus from my own life experiences, sunsets are at their best during the spring and summer months.
You are (Most Likely) Going to Have Less Work
The reason for this is not the most obvious. One thing that winter affects throughout the United States is vegetation. You might be wondering why does vegetation matter?
If a company is looking to purchase drone photos or video for their properties, they may wait for warmer months. Since a drone can capture a larger area, a bunch of dead vegetation in the background might not make for the most appealing marketing material.
Also, another opportunity that you may miss out on is capturing large events. During the winter months, there are going to be a lot less outdoor festivities and therefore even less demand for a drone service.
What should a drone pilot do during the cold months?
Your health takes precedence over any drone or job out there, so if you do get jobs in the winter make sure your attire keeps you warm and able to function. When flying in the cold it is best to invest in touchscreen gloves.
Develop Yourself and/or Company
The winter months provide a great time for a drone pilot to develop all areas of their career. The winter provides the perfect time for a drone pilot to build and market their drone reel. By getting yourself and your work out there, you can increase the chances of getting a lot of work when it gets warmer.
The winter is also a great time to prepare for the industry’s overall peak season, which is between March and October. You can use this time to network and come up with a marketing strategy and material.
Industries Best Suited to Weather the Winter
While I highly recommend that even as a drone pilot you need to have a niche industry and skills to provide your services. The below industries should be able to keep you steadily working during the winter months.
Construction: If a site manager is utilizing construction progress photos, they will need them on a weekly or monthly basis, therefore marketing plays a less role.
Inspections: While getting into drone inspections has a much higher overhead, the fact of the matter is that inspections are going to be ongoing and will need to be conducted (weather permitting).
Ski Resorts and Lodges: While most real estate and hospitality companies are looking to acquire aerial pictures when during lush months. Ski resorts and lodges might be the complete opposite and that they want to give off a presentation of a “winter wonderland”.
While you may not get as many calls during the winter, this period can prove to be a great time to prepare for warmer and greener pastures.