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Conversations with Paul Jones

Today we’d like to introduce you to Paul Jones.

Hi Paul, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
It all started in May of 2017, Memorial Day weekend, with a hot air balloon festival called the freedom balloon festival in Fuquay-Varina, NC. This event attracted 20+ thousand people a day. Cody Whitelock (now my business partner) was working the event with the project coordinator, Brian Hoyle, when I asked if they would be interested in the aerial footage of the festival.

Brain agreed and instructed I would be flying under Cody’s wing during the event. Little did I know the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) was attending this event and requested our intent with a follow-up meeting. After submitting our flight plans the FAA granted us permission to operate our UAS during the festival. The story goes we were the first drone pilots in the nation to have worked with the FAA during a live airshow event. This was a HUGE achievement! There’s a large stigma with drones all around in general and with manned aircraft, especially. It takes SO MUCH PLANNING and safety mitigation to successfully pull something like this off and we did, so well they asked us to come back again in 2018.

This was the year Pinnacle Eye Productions was born and I became a licensed commercial drone pilot. I remember praying to God saying “Lord, I don’t know what’s going on, but this business is not mine. I want it to be yours and to glorify you.” Boy was I in for a ride. After working two airshows successfully it started opening doors to networking with some amazing people in the aviation community, government officials, city and state officials, news networks, moviemakers, photographers, and videographers from all over the world.

It was like a crazy roller coaster ride from the beginning and so much great stuff was happening in such a short amount of time. It really became overwhelming at one point, then I remembered, the Lord will not give you more than you can handle. Here we are, 5 years later, and still going strong. Since the two hot air balloon airshows, we have done three more airshows, Sky Fest, First Fruites Farm Freedom Memorial Festival, and Raleigh Glow Tour. We’ve filmed in Washington State, worked a huge building implosion, made Fox News Nation, and much more.

We’ve been so humbled by this experience and the people we’ve met. Some of these people took me under their wing and taught me so much about aviation as a whole and how it needs to be respected. It’s not as easy as showing up with a backpack and a drone and taking off, that’s not how it legally works. You must have everything in line before taking off for that mission, safety mitigation, airspace approval, weather conditions, permits, FAA Waivers, and much more. What makes it hard is when people don’t follow the laws. This hurts the UAS industry a great deal.

This is when new rules and regulations are created and the industry becomes more and more tightly controlled all over the world. December 2020, I became a FAASteam (Federal Aviation Safety team) safety representative for the Carolinas. I understood there was a need to educate the community and our children about drones, aviation, and how we all can fly safely together. This has been another milestone achievement that has introduced me to some great walks of life.

I’m hopeful Pinnacle Eye Productions will continue growing as it has been in the past five years. I have a passion for this and would love to see just how far God will take us. I would also like to give a huge shout-out to my wife, Chandra, for sticking by my side during this crazy ride and for always being there to help. Thank you and I love you.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Some challenges are a breakdown in communication with clients. Some don’t understand that we hold an FAA Part 107 Commercial license and there are rules and regulations we must follow that govern us. The last thing we want is to jeopardize our license, our clients, and most of all safety.

This is quite a serious business. Last year, the FAA fined a Chicago drone pilot $180,000, a North Carolina Realtor $50,000
and the list goes on. We strive for excellence by gaining the trust of our clients and ensuring the very best experience legally and safely.

Obstacles arise when dealing with a heavily regulated industry, like drones, by the government. It’s sensitive controlled airspace, to a TFR (temporary flight restriction) for the President and/or VIP. We must have everything in order to be granted approval for that flight operation.

Sometimes this can take up to 90 days for the FAA to process the paperwork and it is still not guaranteed approval.

We do a lot of work with. Non profits also. Mainly veteran owned non profit. Because we support our military service members. past and present.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
We’re a commercial aerial drone service provider.

We specialize in:

  • Promotional marketing material
  • Festivals
  • Private events
  • High profile hosted events
  • Airshows
  • Real estate
  • Power and structure inspections
  • Progress monitoring of construction sites to improve efficiency and avoid waste.
  • 3D mapping and data analytics
  • Photography
  • Videography
  • Public safety auxiliary
  • Training classes
  • Video production services

Where known for pushing the envelope in the drone industry legally and safely, and as airshow drone pilots. Most proud of being the first drone pilot in the nation to work with the FAA during a live airshow. What sets us apart – We like to be unique and diverse in what we do. That’s why we feel Pinnacle Eye Productions – Aerial Drone Services, covers a little bit of everything.

What do you think about happiness?
What makes me happy is to see others succeed in life. This world is full of different walks of life and as human beings, it’s our duty to embrace, learn, love, and grow together. I love meeting different people with different ideas from different cultures.

It is what makes us all unique in our own way. Sometimes, the best ideas and visions are from strangers just passing by during our journey.

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