Every act of aloha counts. Click here to DONATE to the MAUI RELIEF Fund.            

Buying And Flying A Personal Drone

Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), more commonly known as drones, have been around for a while in the consumer market, but after seeing all the different types at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year, I seriously considered purchasing one.

I was very blessed though, because I did not have to spend any money — I won a DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ in a contest.

The author's drone all decked out with carbon fiber stickersMatthew Flickinger photo

Image 1 of 3

The author's drone all decked out with carbon fiber stickers. Matthew Flickinger photo

The Phantom 2 is easy to set up and fun to fly. It’s well-constructed, and great for aerial photos and video. By using an app on your phone, you can see what the drone sees and control its flight path and camera. Its battery life is about 20 minutes, so it’s a good idea to invest in a spare.

If you’re a novice, this is a good entry point into flying and aerial photography. You even can outfit it with customized propellers and stickers.

Recent media hype has given drones a bad reputation. In reality, they have so many different uses, including aerial photography and search-and-rescue efforts.

I do quite a bit of hiking, and when I’m out and about, I enjoy taking scenic pictures and video. Therefore, having a drone is a great way to take shots off the trail I never would be able to get with a standard camera or my cell phone. Phantom 2 pricing starts at $679, and just two weeks ago DJI released Phantom 3. This variant features upgraded motors, an expanded network of satellites and an upgraded camera system with 4K video capability (starts at $999).

Along this flight path of learning about consumer drones I met Mike Elliott, CEO of Drone Services Hawaii, along with his wife and co-pilot Ellen.

The company just launched a few months ago and focuses on local drones sales and repairs. Co-owner George K. Purdy IV and wife Stacey live on Lanai, and run the company’s repair shop. Purdy is deeply involved with FAA issues around drones. Elliott says the company hopes to “promote the safe and responsible use of the personal drone products.” And with that in mind, the company’s mission is to “provide high quality drone products and services for personal, professional, commercial and government use.”

Drone Services Hawaii carries drones from DJI, Ghost Drone, Align and Plexidrone, and they hope to add more manufacturers and open a storefront later this year. As a veteran-owned company, it is a big supporter of Wounded Warrior Project, as well as STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) students. It hopes to provide opportunities for both, and has been participating in local community events.

If you’re interested in purchasing a drone, you can buy one from Drone Services Hawaii (buy local!) at dronesserviceshawaii.com, and visit facebook.com/DroneServicesHawaii to view some nice pictures. Elliott will help set up your drone and help you learn how to fly, if you need the assistance.

Fly safe!