For Steve Wohnrade, the decision to start a company offering professional drone services came to mind a few years ago.
Wohnrade, 58, a lifelong resident of Wonder Lake, is the owner of Air1 Drone Services LLC, which he operates out of his home, working alongside his two nephews. His first encounter with drones came when he visited family members in Colorado who were using drones in business applications. What started out as a hobby quickly became a business venture.
“I found out my sister and nephew were working with drones in a professional way, and it was fascinating. It piqued my interest, and here I am,” Wohnrade said.
Air1 Drone Services officially opened for business Sept. 1 and recently celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Air1 serves northern Illinois and most of Wisconsin.
Wohnrade said the village has been welcoming and the community supportive of his new endeavor.
Air1’s offerings include aerial inspections, aerial data-collection, training for new drone hobbyist owners and, most commonly, photography and videography services. Aerial videos are often used for construction sites, mapping, surveying, inspections and even for homeowners who want to inspect
their gutters or roofs.
Another growing area of the drone market is real estate. Flyovers of a home or an estate can have great impact to potential buyers. An overhead view of a property, especially a large parcel, can give buyers a quick and immersive experience from the convenience of their homes. While aerial videography is common in places like California, for local real estate, it isn’t quite as mainstream yet. Wohnrade said it is only a matter of time.
“Drones have great capabilities,” Wohnrade said. “Almost any business can find a use for drones. People don’t realize the possibilities.”
A drone, sometimes referred to as an unmanned aircraft system, is flown by an operator on the ground. In August 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration began imposing new guidelines on drones. The use of drones commercially is a rapidly growing market. To operate a drone for business purposes, the operator must have a remote-pilot certification and the drones must be registered with the FAA.