Cautions for a FAA-Licensed Drone Pilot on the (Easy) Job

Cold, early and quiet. Lonely but out in the open at sunrise. Beautiful space with festive decor.

As a UAV pilot in command, I'm always assessing safety risks. Let me tell you, they are EVERYWHERE. While I have those controls in my hands and bird in the air, I have to be constantly aware. Sudden weather changes, that off-leash dog coming to say "HI!" and heck, even unperceivable magnetic forces can turn a flight into a disaster. Most of the time, though, its me trying to stay the hell away from everything. This project was a simple and controlled environment that I'll walk through these "must avoid ________" concerns with you.

Out here at the Barons Creek Vineyard in Fredericksburg, Texas, it was pretty much just me and the drone. Two villas, a nearby highway and the cold were my most ever-present avoidances. The villas because they were most likely the vacation slumber shack for some of my clients' paying guests. At 7AM, I had to be mindful not to rouse them. Specially by drone. Only drone-heads like me would want to be woken by a drone. And even I would probably not be too amused. The highway is to be avoided because FAA says no flying over moving cars with people in them. (But what about the moving cars with no people in them???) A side note, almost every drone operator, whether licensed or not, breaks this rule. The cold was a threat because it caused my hands to shiver. I didn't wear gloves because, well, I didn't have any, and I probably wouldn't use them if I did because it would be weird to manipulate the controls while wearing gloves. Even minor changes on the sticks can mean big errors, specially in tight spaces.

Like this controller flub at 0:25 that almost ended my drone:

Really fun job and paid in wine! WINeING?!!!!!!!