NPR

From Cockpit To Controller: Former Pilot Finds A New Way To Fly

When former helicopter pilot Tony Zimlich retired from a 20-year military career, he worried about his civilian job prospects. Then he discovered the burgeoning world of commercial drone work.
Tony Zimlich, a former military pilot, helps to train and manage a new generation of drone pilots. Source: Alexi Horowitz-Ghazi

On a recent sunny afternoon at a solar farm outside Philadelphia, Pa., commercial drone pilots Tony Zimlich and Gunner Goldie are preparing for flight.

Dressed in hard hats and matching yellow vests, they run through a series of safety and equipment checks, and survey the surrounding terrain and airspace, before picking up what looks like a pair of oversized video game controllers. Then, with a streak of beeps and whirs, their drone — about the size of a milk crate — rises steadily

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