Boy (10) becomes State’s youngest qualified commercial drone pilot

Dan Clohessy got top marks in flight exam and has already built a number of drones

At just 10 years of age, Dan Clohessy’s ambitions to dominate the future drone world began with studying to become the State’s youngest qualified commercial pilot.

His 94 per cent exam result, the highest in his adult class, came as little surprise to those who know him: he has already built a number of his own machines.

"For a 10-year-old, grasping what he is grasping is incredible," said Damien Doyle of iFly, the ground school where Dan took sat his exam on Sunday.

Anyone wishing to undertake commercial drone projects like survey or film work must first get SOP (special operating permissions) approval to fly in restricted air space. This is done by first sitting an intensive two-day course with an exam heavy on law and flight theory.


Once complete, a flight test is required for the operator to become licensed to apply for professional, often highly technical work. It is a dizzying height above simple hobbyists.

“It feels like his bedroom has been covered in drones for a long time,” said Dan’s mother, Sarah. “It was one thing when he was flying them but then he got into building them.”

Her son took an interest in studying drone operations when his local priest asked about acquiring footage of a recently repaired parish church in his hometown of Malahide, north county Dublin.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times