Introduction to UAV (Drones) Aerial Surveys and Other Applications

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Houston Geological Society
Continuing Education Committee

Introduction to UAV (Drones) Aerial Surveys and Other Applications
Workflows and Demonstration
A Half-Day Short Course

Mike Allison
Raptor Aerial Services LLC

Friday, October 26, 2018, 11:00 am – 4 pm

The use of UAVs, unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones as they are more commonly referred to, is rapidly growing in many industries including oil and gas. The first drones were used for military purposes. Today, even though there are over 20,000 drones used by various armed forces worldwide, most drones are used for civilian purposes. In a recent report, the estimated number of Enterprise or Commercial-use drone shipments in 2016 was 110,000. This number will reach over 800,000 by 2021. Consumer drone shipments are expected to be around 29 million by 2021.

This overview course will cover types of drones, how drones work, and how they are being utilized to solve business problems in a more efficient, safer manner, and at a lower cost than traditional methods. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements and regulations for operating small unmanned aircraft (UAS) will also be covered. Data products with quantified operational use, generated from drone imagery, include: high-resolution aerial photos and videos; Orthomosaic (photo maps); Digital Surface elevation / Terrain Models (DSM, DTM); 3D models involving detailed measurements, such as Area, Volume, Length, Surface Profiles; and Infrastructure Inspections (optical zoom, thermal imaging). How drone data seamlessly integrates with other applications, such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) will be discussed.  Specific applications in flood control and surface mining will be demonstrated. Examples will be shown of other types of sensors being used on drones, including gas leak detection, air quality, Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and other geophysical applications. The last part of the course is hands-on, and will involve laying out and surveying Ground Control Points (GCPs) and flying drones to acquire small aerial surveys.

Course Outline:

  • History of Drones
  • UAV Growth & Industry Adoption
  • FAA Rules for Operating a UAS
  • Basic Components of a Drone System
  • Types of Drones
  • Drone Sensors
  • Software
  • Ground Control Points (GCPs)
  • Drone Aerial Survey Workflow
  • Photogrammetry and Elevation Modelling
  • Drone Aerial Inspections
  • Summary of Actionable Data Products from Drones
  • Demos and Aerial Survey Field Exercises


Star Creek Ranch.

25801 Stockdick School Road

Katy, Texas 77493

(north of Clay Road and west of Highway 99)




$65.00 HGS Members

$45.00  HGS Student Members

$105.00  Non-members **

$50.00 Unemployed Members (call the office for this prices)

Registrants wishing to participate in the Drone Field Demonstration should wear long pants and boots.

Those Registrants should also print and deliver the accompanying Waiver, signed, at check-in.  Otherwise they will be required to fill in and sign a blank copy on the spot.

** Non-members can save $10 and receive the Member registration price IF they apply for any category of HGS membership online  (, submit the application, including payment, then register for the course by calling the HGS Office (713-463-9476) before receiving formal acceptance.

Notebook, Certificate for 4 hrs PDH (continuing education), Networking Lunch, and refreshments are included in the Registration price.

Doors open at 10:30 AM, Lunch begins 11 AM.   Presentation and field exercises 12 Noon – 4 PM


Mike Allison, Founder, and Owner, Raptor Aerial Services LLC

Mike Allison holds a BS and MS in Geology. He has 34 years of experience in the upstream oil & gas industry. Mike’s experience and background in both Geoscience and IT make him uniquely qualified to recognize how technical solutions can solve E&P business problems. Much of Mike’s experience has been focused on leading IT teams directly supporting key E&P departments including Geosciences, Engineering, Spatial/GIS, Land and SCADA. He has worked for different O&G companies including Majors (Gulf Oil and Chevron), Independents (Devon Energy and Fieldwood Energy) and several Service Companies (Exploration Logging, Landmark Graphics, Geoscience Data Management and Moblize).

After leaving Fieldwood Energy, he founded a drone services company named Raptor Aerial Services (RAS). His company provides aerial mapping surveys, stockpile volumetric calculations, inspections, data collection and marketing to a variety of industries. The company provides solutions focused on increasing sales, reducing costs, saving time and improving safety. RAS is fully insured and FAA Part 107 certified.

Mike is an active member of AAPG, HGS and SPE. He has severed as the Treasurer-Elect and Treasurer on the HGS Board. As a member of the HGS Continuing Education committee, he conceived and initiated the recording of HGS presentations now available at Last October, Mike taught an HGS Continuing Education Course entitled, “Introduction to Drones (UAVs) for Surveying in the Energy Business”. He has made several presentations on the use of drones to various industry groups including the Montgomery County Extension Office, Energy Drone Coalition Summit & Expo, HGS Flood Conference, Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists (SIPES) and the Texas Association of Environmental Professionals (TAEP).


October 26th, 2018 10:30 AM   through   4:00 PM
Star Creek Ranch
25801 Stockdick School Rd
Katy, TX 77493
United States
Event Fee(s)
member $ 65.00
student member $ 45.00
non-member $ 105.00
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