Drone Jobs: Spotlight on Jim Bonnardel

Jim Bonnardel

DroneUp Callsign: jbonnardel

Badges: DJI Intermediate, DroneDeploy, Part 107 Training, DJI Expert, Cinematic Pilot, Part 107 Certified, Dji Pro, Drone Registration, Social Engagement, 360 Image, Airdata Intermediate,Pix4D, Litchi, Aerial Mapping, Verifly Member, Aerial Inspection, Refer a Friend, Airdata Expert, Hangar 360, R.C.P., Airdata Pro

Jim started in “drones” early-on learning to fly radio control and building aero equipment with his father who was active in the modeler world. By the age of 10, he had built several airplanes and had become an accomplished radio control pilot. As a young adult, he joined local radio control clubs to keep his skills honed. Within those clubs, he was elected to sit on their boards, taking on leadership roles that helped with networking through events and media relations he oversaw. While family and career brought his radio control days to a halt for a time period, he soon became the R/C provider to corporate America.  

Radio Control Specialties (RCS) launched in 1982 to provide radio control services to corporate B2B entities. After a job for PepsiCo, RCS was put on the map. While building RCS, Jim was full-time at The University of California in vehicle fleet management, taking on work outside the scope of his radio control “hobby”. There, Jim’s innovative upbringing sparked an invention of an oil additive formula. When he sold the invention patent, it allowed him to focus on RCS, starting with DJI’s Phantom 1. Over the last five years, he has added-on and upgraded his fleet and equipment allowing Jim to turn RCS into a flourishing aerial imagery business. 

In addition to his business, Jim is an instructor at Grossmont College. Through “America’s Promise Grant” he provides 100% free workforce skills and materials to drone pilot trainees. His students boast a 100% pass rate to-date. “The classroom thing has given me joy. I love watching these students succeed,” Jim said deeply moved, “I had one student that was burned by a California forest fire, but he can still hold a controller. This business is the great equalizer allowing many to experience success.” 

Jim has completed more than 750 precision mapping missions, more than 1500 residential and commercial property shoots, dozens of creative projects such as television and music videos, and has made successful deals with Getty Images. Jim offered that he has “learned from every failure” and while he doesn’t “nickel and dime each piece of work”, he does stand firm on being paid for his skill-set.

Jim has picked up several DroneUp jobs since he downloaded the app in 2017. One of his first was a construction site in downtown LA working with both DroneDeploy and DroneUp for their mutual customers. “Having performed over 1500 missions in 2018 and 2019, every mission I get from DroneUp has the best recon information and clear mission objectives. Their pay rate is above average. I have been out on missions for DroneUp and have been better prepared and equipped for the mission because they take the extra time to ensure they communicate precisely what the client needs and allows us as pilots to do what we do best – get the client required data. I really appreciate working with DroneUp. They make a personal connection with the pilot, not just email the details and hope for the best.”

Stay tuned for more installments of our Drone Jobs series, as we highlight some of our best pilots and the missions they fly.

DroneUp Media Contact: Amy Wiegand | marketing@droneup.com | droneup.com