Project Description

Featured Member – Richard Gilmore

Emerald Sky Media - Richard Gilmore

This month’s featured member is Richard Gilmore, the man behind Emerald Sky Media offering general aerial photography and videography but specialising in event coverage.

Richard set up the business at the end of 2016, led into it from a drone hobby that he had enjoyed for a number of years.  While keeping his full time employment as an electrical engineer, he had reached a point where he needed to get his PfCO so he would work commercially.

Based in Newtownabbey, north of Belfast, his company prides itself on offering great quality at competitive rates. However, he feels that drone work pricing in Ireland still remains problematic.  He believes that the public perception of UAVs as toys means that they quite often want to pay fun sized prices as well.  It’s a commonly stated issue when you talk with any commercial drone operator and one which DSR are working hard to change.

Richard is most proud of his event coverage work and would love to leverage his skills in this area to double his business turnover in the next 12 months with a view to it becoming his full time occupation.  In fact the only regret he has about obtaining his PfCO, and going commercial with his hobby is waiting too long.  Starting with so many others in the UK ‘drone explosion’, he feels that he entered into an overcrowded marketplace.

Still this doesn’t deter him from ambitious expansion plans,

‘I was always told, the worst anyone can tell you is NO, so always go for it.  You rarely get a second chance so go for it’

Emerald Sky Media - Richard Gilmore

In fact his brand building plans was one of the main reasons that he joined DSR in the first place.

He boasts a range of UAVs in his fleet from DJI, from Yuneec and a self build craft which he loves.  Despite loving all of the copters themselves, he often finds himself frustrated with the camera control. He’d love nothing more than to see the systems become more independent from the main manufacturers so he could design and build his own camera / gimbal system and fly it under his craft of choice for the job.

In terms of the industry as a whole, geofencing and distance restrictions are one of his main frustrations. He believes that legal commercial operators should be favoured with reduced distances.   He also, like many other operators, feels that illegal operators should face stiffer penalties from the CAA to discourage them from taking the chance and undercutting the folk that follow the law.

Still despite all this, he remains optimistic for the future of the drone pilot.  If he had to give advice to someone starting out, it would be that simply buying a drone isn’t a guarantee of success on the bottom line.  A good business plan and an understanding of your target market is essential if you’re in it for the long haul.  Film and TVV work hold some glamour and certainly there’s money to be made there but getting your foot in the door can be a problem if you don’t already have contacts.    Inspection and survey work is the next biggest income area to look at if you have the necessary flying skills and tools to output the data.

All in all he believes that there’s still room to grow in this industry for serious commercial pilots.  The ‘cowboys’ will eventually fall away, leaving the professional operators to lead the way.