The last few weeks have been pretty stressful for everyone. Without a doubt, there’s uncertainty in the air about what the next few months could look like, and we’re all working on setting up this new normal we’ll be in for the next little while.

Many of you are supporting the essential services and critical infrastructure we all rely on, and I wanted to reassure you that Skyward is right here to support you. We’re continuing to offer airspace access, professional services, program management tools, and support. We’re available to talk, and if you have concerns about your drone program, don’t hesitate to reach out.

For the Skyward team, remote work has always been a part of what we do, with our steadily growing team spread across the country. Now, we’re safely set up in all our home environments, working hard to keep up with our customers and prospects as we continue to step forward together.

But for many of the companies we work with, a whole lot of things are on pause right now. Response to the coronavirus is top of mind, and rightfully so. But smaller initiatives — like drone programs — might fall through the cracks for a little while. There’s a chance your usual flight ops have been scaled back or put on hold for a bit.

So what can you do to move your program forward while your ops are in a holding pattern? I have a few ideas.

1) Study for Part 107 certification (or recertification)

Never has there been a better time to get some prospective pilots started on Part 107 certification training. There are some great training courses out there that can quickly bring someone up to speed on what they need to know before going to take the FAA’s test — even if they have no prior experience with aviation.

Skyward partners with Drone Pilot Ground School to provide online training both for our own internal pilots and for our customers. It’s a fantastic service that puts together a video-based training course, quizzes, full-length practice tests, one-on-one support, and lifetime access for any time you need to brush up on your knowledge.

If you’re interested in pursuing certification training, let us know. We’re happy to set you up with what you need.

2) Attend a Skyward webinar (or watch recordings of our past webinars)

For years, Skyward has been hosting webinars on all kinds of topics in the drone industry. We’ve shared hundreds of best practices and invited in some of the greatest industry pros and customer partners on the planet.

Just this week, we hosted a webinar called Drone Program Dos and Don’ts: Tips to Build, Scale & Innovate, featuring two Skyward experts offering advice for drone programs at any stage and answering live Q&A. Or check out a webinar we recently co-hosted with Skyward customer Moss to see what they’re doing with drones in the construction industry.

We have more great live webinars coming up soon. We’re also planning to release some free online content soon that can help you support and grow your program during this challenging time. Stay tuned for more updates.

3) Invest in program training or consultation

Skyward’s Professional Services team really shines when they’re conducting in-person services and training sessions for enterprises around the country. But our consultants have been working on options for remote training, enabling them to deliver learning sessions instantaneously to customers thousands of miles away.

While we can’t come train you in person at the moment, we’re ready to help you build and customize your standard operating procedures and connect you with the information you need. With crews potentially unable to fly missions, now is a great time to invest in shoring up program processes and standards.

Keep an eye out for communications from the Skyward team about some great educational content coming soon. Again, if you’re interested in finding out more, just let us know. We’ll be happy to connect with you.

4) Practice your drone piloting — and learn a new skill

While your crews may not be able to go out together, there’s nothing to say that you can’t practice flying for fun if you have your own drone at home. In Skyward’s hometown of Portland, Oregon, we’ve had some beautiful weather lately. I’ve been taking advantage of it by shaking off my rusty winter piloting skills and getting some great aerial shots of my neighborhood.

Now is a great time to practice your flight skills. It’s easy to keep your social distance while putting up a drone and getting some great shots. Just make sure you check Skyward’s airspace intelligence map first — it’ll let you know if there are flight restrictions or other airspace considerations to worry about. You definitely don’t want to interfere with any emergency operations that might be going on.

If you’re already feeling good about your piloting, consider acquiring a new skill. Maybe you’ve been wanting to learn how to put together an orthomosaic with all those aerial photos you’ve collected. Or you could look into what it takes to measure stockpile volumetrics with drones, or conduct vertical infrastructure inspections, or how to master a new camera control technique. It’s a great time for skill development.

5) Work on your business case and program plan

If you’re still in the launch phase of your drone program, this is a perfect opportunity to work on your plan for pitching your program and launching it successfully. You have the opportunity to brainstorm what kinds of use cases you’ll go after and plan the steps, equipment, personnel, and software you’ll need to get there. Plus, you can sit down and crunch the numbers for the budget and set a clear path to ROI — all things that stakeholders will want to see in a new program.

Even if you already have a program in place, it could be a great time to reconsider the use cases that are immediately at hand. You may want to aggressively pursue the ways drones can help the community in a crisis. For example, with the current limitations on person-to-person interactions, the timing is perfect for drone package deliveries.

Most importantly, stay healthy during this challenging time. And if you have any concerns about your drone program, please reach out. Skyward is here to support you and your drone ops.