By Sam Elliott
Hamilton Southeastern High School class of 2014 graduate Daniel Majestic spent his summer home from college like a lot of his peers — finding a summer job.
But he and fellow Ball State student Matt King, a Cincinnati native, have spent the summer building their own business from scratch and teaching kids to aim for the skies as they pilot drones and learn the basics of aeronautics.
“I’ve been flying drones for about two years professionally, and I’m also a pilot and fly planes,” King said. “We wanted to really offer something that kids can do whenever and there weren’t any good science and technology camps out there, so we decided to do it and do it well. We got the drones, we got up and running and the rest is kind of history. The kids love it.
“We haven’t had a single crash since we started the camp, thank the lord — right, guys?” he adds in the direction of a brother-and-sister duo receiving the day’s lessons. “We’re not going to have any crashes today.”
Drone Camp attendees fly around the parking lot and land surrounding Life Church, 9820 E. 141st St.
“When we wanted to do this, the hardest thing was getting land,” King said. “We couldn’t find land. We called probably 100 locations in Fishers, and Life Church has been so great. We’re truly blessed to have this property.”
The drones used by Drone Camp retail for near $1,000, can fly at up to 400 feet and reach 35 mph. King and Majestic conducted approximately 35 camps in their first summer. The duo also founded Droning About, where clients can hire them for their piloting and video services.
“We do a lot of real estate, we do golf courses, we do races and runs, we do goods and deliveries, like dropping things off, that’s kind of where we’re going with it. I think it’s only going to grow from here,” King said. “I think next year — I don’t even want to think about next year. It’s going to be crazy. It’s been cool. It’s been a really fun journey. And we’ve met a lot of fun people, and it’s neat when they call us about wanting a drone. Like 80 percent of the kids who go through our camps, the parents call us and say, ‘I want to buy that same drone.’”
Campers Megan and Drew Watson estimated the learning curve for learning to fly the drones at approximately 30 minutes.
“Your first flight, you’re going to be like, ‘OK this is medium (difficulty),’ but on your second flight you’ll just get it and be good to go,” Drew said.
Groups can play search-and-rescue games with drones or map out flight plans and even learn advanced maneuvers like manual landings. The camp’s curriculum also covers Federal Aviation Administration rules and regulations regarding drones.
“We teach them how to manually land them, which is pretty hard to do,” Majestic said. “Our age range is 7 to 15, and sometimes even we have trouble manually landing them. Then, we’ll actually teach the kids to catch the drones as it’s coming down out of the sky, too.”
From dorm room to board rooms
While developed in a Muncie dorm room and implemented in Fishers just this year, Drone Camp is already spreading across the nation.
“We have a presence now in Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Houston, Texas — two more coming in Iowa and New York,” Drone Camp co-founder Matt King said. “We wanted to set the thing up to build. People can purchase licensing agreements with us, which basically means they can purchase the brand, the logo, the name and can even have a portal on our website to conduct around camps. We’re not really responsible for anything that happens at those camps, we just provide the service to register kids.”
“They have access to our website and our material we use in the camp, our curriculum and books,” co-founder Daniel majestic added. “They have access to people who may the Drone Camp shirts and pins, too. It’s a pretty good deal, so they can book through our portal to all the locations we have and can register from there.”