STANDOUT IN ROOFING: BRANDON ANTONINI, CHIEF OF DRONE OPERATIONS
I started at Complete Roofing in a telemarketing position and then shortly after became Team Leader. When the door opened for drone piloting, I was a little nervous of taking on that role. I could just imagine myself crashing the drone into the side of a house or a tree. Those drones are not cheap! But I enjoy playing video games and figured it couldn't be too hard. After some conversations with Chad, I started studying to become an FAA certified remote pilot.
I passed my Part 107 FAA test and started flying drones for roof inspections. I am so glad I took that leap! When I first started flying, I was very nervous. But I have yet to crash a drone in my two years. I’ve learned a ton. Now, I’m a lot more confident in my flying capabilities.
I believe the biggest predictor of success in becoming a drone pilot is just the drive and desire to do it. You have to study and pass your test, or wait another 2 weeks to take it again. I was never good at taking tests, but I was motivated to learn this. I could see how this connected to real life.
I like the constant changing from one site to the next. It keeps my mind busy. If you enjoy technology and working outside, then this can be a great career. You do have to get used to the idea that when you are flying the drone while it is facing you, your controls are inverted. That’s going to matter if you are flying near a tree!
We use two different types of drones: Kespry, which is able to fly autonomously, and the manual DJI Mavic Pro, which gives me more direct control. If there are alot of trees or if it's overcast, then I will use the manual drone. Neither are of much use in the rain, but the manual can handle a little mist while the Kespry is strictly for dry conditions.
I sometimes have a little fun when I am flying the Kespry. Since it flies autonomously, a passerby might ask me if that is my drone. I tell them, “Yes, it is.” Then they ask “Where is your controller?” I tap my head and say, “I’m a Jedi.” Gotta bring your own fun to the job.
I enjoy helping the new drone operators prepare for their tests with spreadsheets, bullet points and explanations. I send them videos and answer their questions to help them get ready. I think Chad saw how quickly I adapted to my new position and saw potential for me to be in a leadership role. I was very excited when he gave me the chance to be Chief of Drone Operations.
Even though I didn’t plan on a career as a drone pilot, I'm very thankful to have this opportunity. I love the different aspects of the job. I like solving problems we may run into. I like helping new drone pilots earn their wings and learn the ropes. I enjoy honing my skills and looking for ways to do things better. This job was made for someone like me.