Remote Controlled Aerial Imagery Aircraft!
A unique set of tools for creative image acquisition.
In-House Custom Built, RC Aircraft for capturing spectacular aerial imagery!!
Some Background on the Aircraft:
What they are NOT is DRONES! Well, at least not what most people think of when they hear that term. Most people think of the government UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) which are normally deployed for military observations or campaigns (combat engagements). This term has seemingly become synonymous with remote-controlled multi-rotor aircraft or “quad-copters” as they are more popularly known. Our RC aircraft fleet has evolved from a series of helicopters in 2005 to hex-copters in 2010. This was a natural evolution do to advances in flight control systems, physical footprint of the aircraft, it’s flight time durations, and most importantly safety. Our largest helicopter had a length of 6 foot tip to tip. It weighed 16lbs and spun a 5′ Kevlar rotor disc at 2000 rpm. This machine had a multitude of moving parts of which any failure could end fatally. (My legs would shake every minute it was airborne, regardless of my piloting skills, pre-flight safety inspections and the fact that I custom built/assembled every aspect of the helicopter.) This lead me to use the vehicle only when absolutely necessary and initiated my constant search for a better alternative. Currently I’ve found that alternative in my custom built hex-copter. I use the term custom built for very serious reasons. Today anyone can walk into a hobby store or professional camera shop and walk out with a $1500 mass-produced quad-copter. A quad-copter whose manufacturer touts is ease of use because of the built in GPS flight control systems, basically making anyone a pilot. This is where the danger comes in. The great majority of these pilots have never operated any type of RC vehicle and certainly have no knowledge of the governing rules and regulations. Therefore they carelessly fly over crowds of people, over busy city buildings and streets without thought of the consequences when the system fails. Yes, I specifically said “when” and not “if” because in 27 years of piloting RC aircraft I can tell you ALL RC vehicles will have a failure at some point in time. Wisdom and understanding regarding failure possibilities makes a huge difference in the outcome. Being a very conscientious person and the fabricator of our air-crafts I can confidently say, not only have I greatly reduced the chances for mechanical failure, but I have practiced piloting/landing without the aid of auto-piloting or GPS assistance.
Public and Regulatory Issues and Concerns:
Compound this naming issue with the rise in the quad-copter hobby and ease of availability and its no wonder the FAA wants to ban their use (until regulations can be passed). Having been an RC enthusiast and pilot since 1987 I can understand, relate and appreciate all parties concerns. The public as a whole has one main issue with “drones” and that is the invasion of privacy. This is totally understandable and something that any ethical pilot would be mindful of. I will not pilot my vehicles over property that does not belong to me or my client while capturing aerial imagery. The FAA’s main concern is the safety of NAS (national air space). This is the airspace that is occupied by private and commercial aircraft. It typically begins at an altitude of 400 feet with the exception of airports and airfields. Use of remote-controlled vehicles in this airspace poses unforeseen dangers to the pilots and passengers of manned aircraft. For this reason, I do not fly my aircraft above a 200′ ceiling. In fact, using the correct camera/lens combinations, we can usually obtain the desired aerial imagery between an altitude of 50′ and 100′ posing no danger to manned aircraft. Additionally, we will not fly within 3 miles of any airports as regulated by the guidelines set forth by the AMA.