Have you ever wondered if drone training for kids is a good idea? Should you be the one laying the foundation by teaching your kids to fly drones?
I am often amazed at how parents are willing to sacrifice for their kids. Of course, we all want them to do well in life, be able to pursue their dreams, and work and live in security. We want them to become financially prosperous, find the right partner, travel widely one day. And do achieve this, we’ll gladly neglect ourselves miserably.
As parents, we know all too well that an easy pathway towards attaining such a desirable lifestyle, is through acquiring money-making skills at an early stage in life. These skills might become a career, or a sideline income, or simply a foundation for further development or study.
I can give many examples of the benefits of attaining money-making skills early in life. My own good wife taught herself another language while still at secondary school, and funded her own university studies by teaching her co-students. A nephew of mine learnt how to repair windscreen chips in his dad’s glass business, making money from the age of 12. One 14-year old artistic kid in our neighbourhood did a course in face painting and she is fully booked every weekend for kiddies parties. I could go on and on, but you probably catch my drift by now!
Question: How suitable is drone flying skills as a source of teenage and future income?
You might feel instinctively that drone flying holds some inherent risks and you wouldn’t want to expose the kids. You wouldn’t want your child to mess up old Jim next door’s lovely flower box, or to land his drone unintentionally in the dogs water bowl. You might also think that its expensive and you’ll rather spend your money developing computer skills for your kids.
But wait, here’s another perspective- an important one!
The FAA forecast that by 2020, there will be about 7 million drones registered in the USA alone. In Sep 2017, only about 60,000 drone pilots were registered in the US, many of which are leisure pilots (Aviation Today, 7 Sep 2017). The FAA declared in July 2018 that the 100,000 mark in total registrations has been exceeded. The commercial pilots amongst them are not enough by far and many more commercial pilots are needed.
The UK CAA reported in 2018 that there were more than 3,000 operator certificates issued to date. The USA and Europe are exploding with projects; so are Asia, Africa and Australia. There is no part of the world where drones are not actively deployed on projects yet (read our article on BVLOS operations).
Until now, drones have been used in medical supply delivery, rescue, shark spotting, building inspection, runway surveys, various agricultural applications including crop spraying, river management, search and rescue, various kinds of photography, to name but a few applications. But that’s not the real issue- the truth is that more and more applications are being discovered daily.
According to marketsandmarkets.com, the global drone services market was worth US$m703 in 2016 and is expected to grow to a whopping $m18,023 (over USD18 billion) in 2022, excluding military applications! It is one of the fastest growing sectors at a compounded annual growth rate of over 70%. If the military sector is included, the annual market forecast for 2022 is about five times as high. Although the different research firms report different forecast figures, they all agree that the expected growth is excessive.
The drone industry will become bigger and bigger and will invade our daily lives on a MASSIVE scale in the years to come.
Not convinced yet? Many academics, drone gurus and futurists have contributed and put ideas forward for future drone applications. There are many interesting ideas. Thinking of taking your wife to dinner in future? You just might receive your freshly cooked lobster by a friendly lobster-carrying drone. Do you plan to deliver a press interview? You might be talking to an attentive drone hovering in front of you. Need to water the garden? Press the “water” button on the exterior maintenance drone control panel (which will be located inside your house, I’m sure). Need a taxi? Pizza? Fight a fire? Locate and pick up doggy poo in a park? Send flowers to Mom on her birthday? Erect a pole? Photograph a wedding? And so on and so on…
The question is really not “Should I teach my kids to fly drones?” anymore. Instead, you should ask “Until such time as drone technology is taught at secondary school, can I afford NOT to teach my kids how to fly a drone?”
You really have little to lose. Even if they never use their skill to earn a few dollars, they might just one day fondly think back to the days when you taught them to master a drone. (Remember the days when you learnt how to hold a baseball bat or to bake a cup cake?)
My proposal: let those kids grow up with drones. My friend Matt and his wife are both avid musicians. Their kids grew up in a house where there were lots of instruments lying around. Many evenings went past when Matt and Shelly simply started playing after dinner, and one by one the 5 kids started falling in. Guess what? Matt’s family consist of two guitarists, two pianists, a singer, violinist and a drummer these days.
Let there be drones in the house- many of them. From the simplest and smallest self-levelling quadcopters, to the complex and advanced load-carrying hexacopter.
Of course there should be rules too (which is very much part of life within Aviation). But, within the boundaries of those rules, teach them to fly, to hover, to remain oriented, to charge batteries, to change propellers. Teach them to take a picture, download and retrieve the data. Let them assess the safety risks before flying. Give them little tasks (“Oliver, deliver this new toothbrush to Mom’s bathroom with your drone, will you?”), or challenges (“Fifty cents if you can land on this marked spot”).
You can easily eliminate all risks. Initially, buy them small hand-size drones that can be flown inside (these are cheap as chips, by the way). Make sure it is fitted with propeller guards. Establish a safe recharge station and teach them how to use it responsibly. Only spread your wings at a later stage to let them fly outside or in a park, carefully observing local drone laws.
Once they turn 18 (16 in the USA and a few other countries), they’ll be ready to promptly obtain a commercial licence, and they can start advertising their services.
Drones are not only toys, they are gifts with an enormous educational and commercial potential. Who knows, someday far ahead in the future, you (and they) may be very, very thankful that you decided to teach them kids to fly drones.
Which training drones should I buy for my kids?
Here are a few of our best recommendations from various suppliers in the below 2kg category (Click to view):
L6063 RC Drone Quadcopter with 720P Wifi HD Wide Angle Camera – $72.85 (Hobbyinrc)