Aerial Services Video Marketing Video Production

My aerial videography and photography journey

Aerial Video flight
Greg arming the UAV for an aerial video mission.

Unmanned aerial vehicles, better known as drones, are a big trend these days. For once, I’m actually part of a trend. Without knowing it,  I’ve been moving towards aerial videography since I was a child. It allows me to combine the two defining passions of my life.

My father was a forest ranger in northern Alberta, so I grew up on the end of a runway. I have many fond memories of being allowed to go up in Bell 47s and the forestry’s Helio Courier.

I started flying radio-controlled aircraft in high school and still remember the simple six-channel radios used at that time. My best friend Gord and I would load up a couple of gliders and search for a slope from which to soar.

After high school, I studied aircraft maintenance at SAIT. Soon, I was working on light aircraft doing everything from regular maintenance to complete rebuilds. I was one of the few from my class that actually used the lessons learned about fabric covering.

In the 1980s Alberta’s economy took a downturn, and jobs in aircraft maintenance dwindled. For a while, I pursued my other love—capturing images. I started off selling cameras, but soon I was assisting a very talented commercial photographer who taught me many things about photography and advanced darkroom techniques. Later, I did audio visual shows with large banks of synchronized slide projectors. I loved the technical aspect and started a business creating slides for business presentations.

When that market was eliminated by computer programs like PowerPoint, I returned to aviation. I became an air traffic controller. I loved working in the Lethbridge tower. Every day I went to work and watched the planes. It was perfect. But then they moved me to the Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) stream. There were no planes in sight and I was not happy.

In high school, I spent many hours in the machine shop making things. I decided to pursue a career as a machinist. Quickly, I became very good at what I did because I enjoy solving problems. I never took a production job because I knew that would kill me. Instead, I became a research and development machinist specializing in prototype work. I loved being inventive and designing things. I even made things for myself, such as a computer controlled camera mount for making virtual reality photographs, and a computer-controlled foam-cutting machine for production of radio-controlled aircraft wings. The computer-controlled foam-cutting machine was eventually purchased by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for use in their low-speed aerodynamics lab.

I was still playing with photography, and when digital video became affordable, I was in like a dirty shirt. Due to family reasons, a few years ago we started planning to move to the coast. My wife Debbie and I knew it was best to bring jobs with us, so I started making videos on the side. When we arrived on the coast, we launched Story in Focus video production.

It’s been a great journey so far and we’ve decided to take it one step further. Before moving to the coast, I started building unmanned aerial vehicles. I now have two that are ready to fly. We obtained our first Special Flight Operations Certificates a few weeks ago and have several others planned for the near future.

I have found a way to combine my love of flying radio control, knowledge of how things work, aviation safety knowledge, and film skills in one package. I am doing what I was made to do and I am loving it.

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