Last spring, “06880” chronicled Ryan Felner’s wild ride.
A few months earlier, the Staples High School sophomore bought a drone. He registered it, followed Federal Aviation Authority rules, and began taking beautiful photos. He added gorgeous videos, then built a burgeoning business providing real estate brokers with drone shots.
But he ran afoul of a new FAA regulation. Ryan lacked Remote Pilot Certification — and faced hefty fines.
Petrified, he feared for his finances, his reputation, his college chances and more.
With the help of his parents, he responded to the FAA. He passed the test. Federal regulators were pleased. In April — before giving a talk at the Maker Faire chronicling his adventures in dronedom — he received his certificate. It was presented personally, by an FAA aviation safety inspector.
Today, Ryan is flying higher than ever.
Particularly because he was just named a Crain’s New York “20 Under 20” star. He’s one of 20 young people — all under 20 years old — doing great things.
“Balancing homework and family obligations with business meetings, financial management and travel,” Crain’s says, they’re rising stars in the New York business world.
So what’s next for Ryan Felner?
His newest enterprise is more down to earth than drone photography — but only in its location.
He’s launching a sports training service linking high school athletes with parents seeking role models for their kids. SporTutors handles the transaction, for a small percentage of the $30-per-hour fee.
“It’s highly scalable,” Ryan tells Crain’s. And he’s already working with an app developer to expand the Westport pilot program into a nationwide network.