Meet David Hood, the Man Who Flies It
Imagine you’re enjoying Downtown Grand Junction’s Market on Main or an outdoor concert at Las Colonias Amphitheater when something catches your eye. More than likely it’s probably a drone, part of the City of Grand Junction’s drone program.
David Hood has been coordinating the City’s drone program since 2018, supervising and training the team of city employees who fly the drones.
“Drones are pretty useful,” David said. “They’re fun machines to fly and learn about. Most of us have other responsibilities, but we love flying them.”
The City of Grand Junction uses drones to capture photographs that are used in a variety of ways. The photos are used to update maps and create imagery of the City’s incredible parks and trails. Aerial photos of construction projects are fed into specialized software to create 3-D replicas and orthomosaic imagery to aid in engineering and problem-solving.
There are five certified pilots and two additional staff that David is training to join the team in the fall. However, becoming a drone pilot is no easy task. It requires Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification and a significant amount of hands-on flight training.
“The Part 107 Certification Exam is similar to a general pilot’s exam, but it’s scaled back,” David said. “There’s a little bit of crossover including some things you need to understand about planes, like where and when you can fly legally. You must take the exam to be certified, but the exam doesn’t cover the practical skills of flying the drone. That’s why our team goes out and practices. We have specific places we go to avoid people and buildings, so they can fly and gain some experience.”
David started working for the City of Grand Junction 22 years ago and he is a perfect example of someone whose career growth has followed his passion thanks to the professional development opportunities the City offers. “There are always new opportunities that arise, and I’ve always been able to move to the next opportunity — I’m never stuck in one place,” he said. “When I’m not working with drones, I’m working in the GIS department on digital maps.”
David’s latest professional focus, the City of Grand Junction’s drone program, offers him and other employees exciting and rewarding job duties. He’s enthusiastic about the opportunities to grow the program.
“We’d really like to expand into other City departments,” David said. “There are a lot of things the drones can provide that we haven’t tapped into yet — especially our 3-D models. They can be quite immersive and could lead to other opportunities within the City.”
Find out more about job opportunities at the City of Grand Junction.