A Fylde coast pilot’s new venture is off to a flying start despite having to go through months of qualifications.
Paul Wane of Hambleton has launched airXdrones after getting an aerial drone licence from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
It means he is one of the few people in the county who can professionally fly the remotely controlled helicopter style aircraft.
Drones have hit the headlines in recent months after owners got into hot water for flying them over built-up areas or into aircraft airspace.
And Paul said enthusiasts flying them illegally could end up landing a hefty £5,000 fine for the CAA.
The former Blackpool Airport helicopter academy pilot said it had taken seven months to gain the full qualifications and insurance to be able to use his drone professionally and cost around £6,500.
He said using drones to take photographs or shoot film was becoming increasingly in demand.
Paul said: “You are not allowed to do any work whatsoever flying a drone without all the paperwork.
“You have to carry out risk assessments for every job and flying in the Fylde you need to notify the Ministry of Defence due to proximity to Warton.
“I had to do a test at RAF Leeming but it got delayed four times due to bad weather and I ended up doing it in South Wales.
“I also had to write an operations manual for the aircraft - 64 pages long and exactly the same as on any normal aircraft.
“So it is not easy but I am delighted to have qualified and have set up office back at the executive jet hangar three at Blackpool Airport.”
Paul’s drone has four engines, a speed of 35 miles an hour and can climb at five meters a second.
It is equipped with a state of the art 4K camera for still photography and video and has Sat Nav guidance using GPS satellites giving accuracy in flying to half a meter.
For safety reasons it has built-in ultrasonic sensors for flying indoors and a fail safe system which makes it return to the place it launched from when the battery runs low.
Paul added: “It has cost around £6,500 to set up airXdrones but I am getting a lot of interest.
“I have already had enquiries from Knott End Golf club, a country house in Abersoch in Wales, a luxury hotel spa in Barbados and a country estate in Clitheroe – and that is just word of mouth.
“It can have so many potential uses from building inspections, wedding shots and corporate photography.”