Vermont Drone has safely located many lost pets and animals for their owners and participated in searches for missing persons.
We may be able to help assist with a missing person or lost pet or animal search if all the following criteria has been met: (If unsure about anything below, we are happy to discuss and determine eligibility with the missing person’s family or animal’s owner.)
- For missing persons: we will defer to and coordinate with local or state law enforcement or rescue teams.
For lost animals: A traditional search must already be in progress. (Posted signs around the neighborhood. Posted messages to NextDoor, Front Porch Forum, Facebook, etc. Also talked with neighbors that do not use those services.) The person or animal must have been last spotted within the last 24 hours and within a general area of 1-2 square miles repeatedly, or repeatedly spotted within the last 24 hours traveling in a specific direction along a road, trail, river, brook, or other physical boundary;
- vegitation in search area must be thin enough to still be able to spot the size and color and/or thermal signature of the missing person or lost animal from the air;
- weather conditions and flight area must allow for safe takeoff/landing and flight operation. (We do not perform SAR missions at night or twlight, during snow, sleet, or rain, fog/low visibility, or sustained winds over 25MPH.);
- flight area must be eligible for FAA/ATC flight authorization;
- and for missing persons: volunteers or professions must be available on-site and capable of transversing the landscape to a located person.
and for lost animals: persons familiar to the animal must be available on-site and capable of transversing the landscape to a located animal, should the animal be located. We highly suggest owners have humane traps/food at the ready as most lost animals are in a “survival mode” or “panic mode” and often no longer respond to their owners calling them, using trained commands, or approaching them. They may even runaway again when approached by someone they have always trusted and responded to in the past.
Other conditions which might limit the odds of a successful search may also exclude our ability to assist or locate the person or animal.
Unfortunately, it is necessary we charge a non-refundable fee upfront to cover the cost of performing the flights, maintaining our gear and equipment, other costs/fees, and cost of travel. This fee varies by location, equipment, staff availability, and other associated costs but generally is around $375-675 for the first two hours on-site (each day). Additional hours requested after the first 2 hours on-site is $100-300/hour. But please beware, we do not recommend continuing a drone SAR in excess of 2 hours unless the person or animal has been spotted again in another area.
We accept donations on behalf of anyone who cannot afford these services.
To engage our SAR services please contact us. Please provide the full street address or GPS location of the last observed location. (If a street address is not available, we highly recommend using the What 3 Words website/app instead of raw GPS coordinates.)
No, we’re not invading anyone’s privacy. We only fly our drones in full compliance with privacy laws and all other federal and state laws.
Our drones cannot identify persons from a distance. If you’re inside we definitely can’t see you. Even if you’re outside, you will look like an ant and won’t be identifiable.
We are very ethical, responsible, and respectful operators. Our drones will never be close enough to see through any windows.
Please also see: Can your drones spy on people? (In short: No, it can’t spy on you or anyone!)
Yes, as responsible operators safety is our priority. We satisfy or exceed all FAA and industry safety standards and procedures.
For example, before each and every flight we thoroughly inspect our drones, as well as all our control and safety equipment. We also perform a detailed preflight checklist to ensure nothing is accidentally overlooked or forgotten.
All our equipment is regularly tested and inspected for faults and defects and receives all service prescribed by the FAA and/or manufacturer’s suggested maintenance schedule. We only use high quality and tested parts which meet or exceed FAA and OEM specifications.
No, for the same reasons you can’t stop manned airplanes and helicopters. We are also flying within the Public, National Airspace. Only the Federal government is able to place prohibitions, restrictions, or regulations on the airspace.
We usually don’t get too close unless it’s unavoidable, for safety, a search and rescue mission, or another type of emergency. This may include, but is not limited to, evasive action to avoid birds or manned aircraft, to perform an emergency landing, to comply with Law Enforcement, or FAA limits/restrictions/orders.
In short: not legally. Attempting to damage or destroy a drone is the same as attempting to damage or destroy manned aircraft. It is a felony and a federal criminal violation (18 USC 32).
You’re likely to be immediately arrested. If found guilty, you could be sentenced to jail for years or decades. Plus, you’ll definitely lose your right to own or possess guns. We can also sue for all damages and legal costs.
- Drones are protected by the same exact laws all aircraft are. So, anyone shooting at a drone would be treated the same as if they shot at a real manned helicopter or airplane. The shooter could be arrested and charged with dozens of very serious crimes. A conviction of any one of these could result in a multiple decade prison term and permanent loss of your right to own or possess guns.
- Property owners have ZERO private airspace and for the same reasons they cannot prohibit manned airplanes and helicopters, they can’t prohibit drones. We’re always operating within the Public, National Airspace. Only the Federal government is able to place prohibitions, restrictions, or regulations on this airspace. A landowner never has any right to shoot at a drone and would be subject to arrest, prosecution and civil liability.
- If the shooter causes a loss of control and the drone crashes into a person (or people), the shooter could be charged with assault with a deadly weapon or even more serious crimes. If anyone should die, the shooter could be charged with manslaughter or even possibly murder.
- Anyone causing damages to a drone would also open themselves to very serious civil liabilities and penalties. Drone operators and anyone else with damages, can actively pursue these damages and all legal costs through civil courts.
As responsible operators, we only operate in conditions which are completely safe for us to fly. We have drones which can operate in nearly any condition except extremely excessive winds, during heavy rain or snow. We now have several which can even operate in up to 50 MPH winds.
Yes, we use are able to broadcast public or private live HD video downlinks which can be live streamed over to YouTube, Facebook, and other live broadcast sites/services. This allows viewers to tune in and watch the flight live from anywhere in the world! We typically only do this when a client requests it but sometimes will also live stream some flights to our YouTube channel.
Yes, we have a live HD video downlink which allows us to perfectly frame each scene and watch the footage as it’s being captured in real time. The video can be viewed in real time on HD monitors, tablets, mobile phones, FPV goggles, and/or even live broadcast to YouTube, Facebook, and other live broadcast sites/services.
Drones are not dogs! They can’t rollover or shake your hand, but, some of our freestyle drones are capable of 3D flying. That might include flying upside down, doing loops, and other tricks.
We can only perform such stunts in open fields, away from neighborhoods and other people. The Northern New England Drone User Group has free events monthly that you’d probably enjoy.
No! We absolutely don’t use drones for surveillance, spying, or snooping. Our drones also do not have the capability to do any of that.
The fact is, as long as it has propellers (or jet engines) there’s compression and rarefaction of the air, producing motion of air molecules. This movement propagates through the air as pressure waves. These sound and pressure waves can be heard at long distances. There’s no way to overcome this except by flying very high up so that the waves have completely dissipated and don’t reach the ground or individual being monitored.
Science-Fiction is still completely fiction and we don’t have military drones.
At just 100′ high, people only look as good or as large, as an ant from 10′ away. It’s important to point out that our drones are still heard at this distance. For an example see the photo below. Even the most advance military drones (with the most advanced optics and cameras) are still unable to take “closer” photos from a distance where they’re not heard or sensed.
Drones are also unable to clearly photograph or video anyone or anything through a window unless it’s within a few feet. In order to identify an individual or make out any specific details, the drone must fly within 15 to 30-feet of the subject. Thus, making it completely impractical for covert surveillance.
Additionally, all civilian aerial drones (including ours) are not capable of “zooming in” or enlarging the photographs/video like you might have seen on TV shows or movies. Those type of dramatizations are completely FICTIONAL and are not remotely like reality. Even the military is still wishing for all those types of capabilities and for the type of clarity that has been depicted on TV and in movies.
The reality is, those “sci-fi” features are just not possible because lenses capable of that type of magnification are very large and long and are very heavy…too heavy for civilian drones. It is physically and optically impossible to miniaturize them and make lighter versions small enough. The lens would also need very complex image stabilization technology to overcome the significant vibration and movement which is intensified by the increased magnification power of the lens.
Engineers and scientists are skeptical that any of these limitations can ever be broken in our lifetimes. So, until some non-existent genius makes an unlikely breakthrough and figures out how to alter the laws of physics and optical science, drones will continue to be the absolute worst and most ineffective way to photograph or spy on anyone covertly.
The truth is, everyone should be far more concerned about what pervs do with covertly placed “spy cameras” or camera phones and cameras with long telephoto lenses. When used maliciously they can be/are a REAL, actual threat to privacy.
Wind and other weather conditions affect flight time greatly but most of our drones can fly between 25-45 minutes before a battery swap is required. A couple can even fly for 90-110 minutes.
For applications requiring longer flight times, we can quickly swap out the rechargeable battery packs and get our drones back in the air extremely quickl or use our home built wings which can fly in excess of several hours. A few of our drones can even fly continuously for many hours with a tether/power cable.
We also have enough battery packs to keep all of our drones up in the air virtually continuously (while depleted batteries recharge in our vehicles, from solar batteries, or gas generators.)
It varies greatly but it’s definitely a very costly undertaking to fly what we fly. Once you add up the cost of one drone and everything else needed to fly it, it can be as costly as a decent sized boat. It’s also as big of a money pit!
The drone itself is such a very small piece of the puzzle and just the beginning of everything else that’s required. For example, many operators spend over $1,000 on just batteries each year!
There’s some pretty inexpensive (sub $100) toy drones that are fun to fly and are perfect for beginners (or even pros for practice). Please see Where can I purchase a drone? for more information.
It’s a small Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS) or just “drone”, for short. See our Fleet page for more information about each of our photographic/survey drones.
The following are some of the more popular usages for drones:
- Filming TV Shows/Movies and Internet videos
- Making art (e.g. landscape, nature, or wildlife photography and cinematography)
- Aerial photography of real estate or other property
- Journalism and news coverage
- Environmental compliance, environmental studies, environmental research, counting/monitoring wildlife, etc.
- Surveying or inspecting property, infrastructure, or agriculture
- Search and Rescue
- Law Enforcement/Firefighting/HAZMAT Response
- Possibly even food and parcel delivery in the future
Before you think about buying a drone, please get and practice with a smaller toy drone first. Without this experience you’re endangering yourself and others as crashes are guaranteed.
We sell several inexpensive (under $50) great practice/training drones in our shop that can take most crashes like a champ. Spare parts are readily available and it’s cheap and easy to repair if you should actually break something. Everything you learn while flying with one of these will be directly applicable to larger drones.
You will need/want at least four spare batteries and you can get multipacks from us for about $20-30. Beware, don’t buy a drone or batteries from Amazon or eBay as there are mostly crudely-made counterfeits and fakes on both sites.
Once you have your practice/training drone fully charge the batteries before use. The drone will calibrate itself as soon as you plug the battery in. So it’s imperative for smooth and steady fight that it be done on a flat and level surface without tilting or moving the drone. That in itself can be a little tricky to do and at first it might take a dozen or more attempts to finally get it right.
Practice with it inside at first and later outdoors (on a calm day) up to 20ft high. Never go higher as they’ll get caught in winds, you don’t feel on the ground, and it’ll be the last time you see it. Start flying close to yourself (10′ max) and slowly increase the distance you go as you gain experience. Try to stay away from walls and the ceiling as it’ll be drawn to them, sucking itself into any surface.
You’ll need to learn how to fly without accidentally bumping or crashing into objects, hitting the floor/ground, or being sucked into walls or the ceiling. Once you can do that and are able to easily fly around and in-between things like multiple objects, while maintaining orientation control (knowing which way it’s pointing/going at a distance), you’re ready to risk flying the more expensive drones. We’ve found that it takes at least 10-30 hours of flight time to fly with confidence and skill, rather than luck. Few can take to it quicker than others but don’t rush it and don’t get overconfident! It really does takes this amount of practice to avoid costly crashes.
It’s for your safety. Flying a drone requires the full attention of its operators. Looking over our shoulders or asking questions can be very distracting and even dangerous. So please don’t disturb us while any of our aircraft are in flight.
It is against Federal Law to disobey or interfere with flight crew. Flight crew interference incidents can result in up to 20 years’ imprisonment and fines of up to $250,000!
Shop/Drones for Hobbyists FAQs
There are two great local user groups and we’re active members of both.
The New England Drone Users Group is for anyone with any interest in any kind of drone.
In additional to traditional photography events, Vermont Photography Meetups regularly holds meetups specifically for enthusiasts/operators of aerial photography and cinematography drones.
Vermonters with an interest in Drones are welcome to join the Vermont UAS Drone Operators Facebook Group.
Everyone interested in flying should also join the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA). The AMA is an association of modelers organized for the purpose of promotion, development, education, advancement, and safeguarding of modeling activities. They’ve become the national voice for its membership, providing liaison with the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Communications Commission, and other government agencies. AMA Members also receive liability insurance for the operation of their model aircraft.
When joining the AMA, they’ll ask for recruiter details. You may provide the following details:
Recruiter Name: Steve Mermelstein
Recruiter AMA #: 544166
FPV Drone Racing is immensely growing in popularity and is loads of fun.
Our local group, the Northern New England Drone User Group welcomes all ages. It’s free to join and is the best way to get help and questions answered. Free flyins, races, and meetups are offered at least once a month. Quite a few members have toy or micro quads at each meet. They’re never looked down upon!
Don’t buy a racing drone and run out to fly without first having some experience with a toy micro quad drones. Don’t skip this step! Luckily, the toys are inexpensive and are built much tougher. They survive pretty much any type of crash without damage. It takes lots of practice to be able to understand how to fly an FPV Racing Drone as they don’t have a GPS or systems which make them easier to fly.
We’re often contacted by folks, newly interested in drones, wanting to meet to pick our brains or watch us fly. Unfortunately, our time is severely limited. The only way we can do this for free is at one of the meetup/user groups we regularly attend or if you purchase a drone from our shop.
Private (or video conference) lessons, consultations, and/or meetings are only offered in the following ways:
- In a Private Drone Wokshop through our sister company, VTPhotoTours.com;
- If you pay us for our time;
- Or, if you meet over meal at a restaurant of our choosing, where you agree to pay the check and tip.
For options 2 or 3: please email us a short bio and briefly explain why you want to meet and what you hope to accomplish. Please be sure to also include your full name, address, your cell phone number and a link to your web site or social profiles. If we’re available to meet, we’ll reply with a list of times and dates we’re available.
Unfortunately, no photography drone is crash proof or as easy to fly as the marketing leads everyone to believe. It takes lots of practice with a toy micro quad drone first. Don’t skip this step! Luckily, the toys are inexpensive and are built much tougher. They survive pretty much any type of crash without damage. Pick one up today at our shop in Burlington!
Once you can fly with confidence and skill, rather than luck, DJI is the best ‘off the shelf’ brand. The Phantom 3 Pro is a great entry level aerial photography drone and the best for the money. The new Phantom 4 is a great upgrade if you don’t mind the higher price tag.
To be guaranteed of getting the latest/updated versions, we only recommend buying DJI products direct from DJI or directly from us.
Still have questions?
Please contact us.