Drone builders take off

- They started by making aerial videos of properties for sale. But, these two college friends quickly decided drones could make them millionaires.

"At that time, it was the beginning of drones," says Alexander Bilous, co-founder of Harris Aerial. "We just saw the commercial potential of it."

Now Bilous and partner Benjamin Harris, both in their 20's, are working to take the drone industry to the next level. Their production facility is a three-bedroom apartment not far from the campus of University of Central Florida in Orlando, where they both earned their MBA's.

Several of their employees have workstations scattered through the apartment, assembling components and working on new designs.


Bilous says he thinks of drones as flying computers that can perform many tasks. Right now they're working on a large drone with lots of lifting power.

"It's going to a defense contractor," said Harris. "They're going to put a 50-pound, hyper-spectral image camera that can read most wavelengths of the light spectrum."

Harris says it can be used to fly close to explosions as they test new bombs and missiles. But, it's just one of a million potential new jobs for millions of new drones in an industry that's taking off.

Bilous says their ability to customize drones is what sets them apart. He says they discovered the niche not long after they formed the company.

"Let's create," he explained. "Let's not just buy parts off the shelf and assemble them."

If drone builders were bakers, they might call it starting from scratch. They struck gold when they met Bud Sano, owner of SFI in Orlando, a metal fabricator.  His shop has laser equipment that cuts aircraft aluminum with precision.

Sano is  twice their age, but believes drones will play a big role in the future.

"I think you can get some people involved and do some good things," he said.

Harris and Bilous have been at it for two years, but many other entrepreneurs have entered the drone business.

"Who could have predicted that Henry Ford was going to be so famous? He could have failed," said Bilous. 

Working long hours and always tweaking their designs, these drone builders in the apartment believe their business will fly.

For more information visit: http://www.harrisaerial.com

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