Local photographer finds niche in drone repair

Posted at 7:12 PM, Jan 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-26 04:56:20-05

They're fun to fly, but easy to crash.  

"People hit trees. They'll run into their home. They try to land them on the ground, and they just tip over, and the gimbal will get bent."

Tim Hileman knows because he's crashed five of his own. The Tampa entrepreneur runs an aerial photography company.

"The lead time to get my drone fixed for my business was about three to five weeks, and with us having a job every other day, I had no other choice (but) to learn to fix them myself,” said Hileman.

Hileman is a USF mechanical engineering graduate who can get your drone back in the air in about a week -- sometimes less.

"I started out with a Craigslist ad, and I was getting a call about every day,” he said.

"This is the most common issue we see. The gimbal will break,” he pointed out. "We will bend that back, epoxy, weld anything if needed."

His new company Fix ‘N Fly is taking off, and not just in Tampa.

You can start a repair by emailing Hileman at

You'll soon be able to mail your drone from anywhere right to his work bench, and he’s bringing on extra engineers.

"There's quite a few out right now. The most popular one is DJI. The Phantom 2 is the one that I work on the most,” said Hileman.

Repairs run about $60 to $70 per hour, and Hileman fixes most in under an hour.

"People think their thousand dollar investment is complete garbage now, and with a hundred bucks, some new parts and knowledge, you can get that thousand-dollar investment flying again,” he said.

Repairs Hileman says it puts a smile on customer's faces and his.

"I love doing this. I absolutely love it. Every time you give a drone back to a customer when they think it was trashed, and they see fly again, the amazement is just, makes everything worthwhile,” he said.