A licensed drone flying over Roswell by AirPlay Media and Adventure Services, LLC. (Submitted Photo)
Continued from March 29
Part I of the story of the new technology of drones covered the new laws and its challenges that the first drone pilots face.
While Mike Lanfor is the technical and pilot side of the company, Jenna Preston Secrist is working the business aspect of the company AirPlay Media and Adventure Services, LLC. Secrist sees a trend for commercials, inspections and advertisement where UAVs will expand into.
“I see the real estate side much more and the artistic side,” Secrist said. “It is a commercial, but it takes the artistic eye to make it a nice sales piece. We have the educational division that we are working towards, working with ENMU-R, providing a platform where we can train other pilots. That’s very grassroots.”
Secrist sees the advantage of UAVs for tourism purposes. “What is there in Roswell? We have footage from Bottomless Lakes and Bitter Lake and we can tie it all together and get the hot spots in the downtown area,” she said. “As far as tourism goes, we show the places that are nearby, Sitting Bull Falls. We flew the drone and got unique perspectives.
“Roswell has so much to offer that is hidden. We can stand in front of the Roswell Museum and Art Center, we can sit in the Roswell Little Theater, or at Way Way Off Broadway. We have arts, we have culture, we have outdoor activities,” Secrist said.
Recent projects included aerial footages for the movie “Astro” that was filmed in town as well as a commercial for a new cellphone that was filmed downtown and in the International UFO Museum. “We want to make it easy for them (the movie industry) to come back here, Lanfor said. “When they hired us, they struggled with the money side but we got paid. They were very happy with us when they saw the product. That kind of reputation will get other low-budget productions coming to us and even big production companies.
“Santa Fe and Albuquerque, those places are getting so over-saturated,” Lanfor said. “Prices are starting to go through the ceiling. People are starting to look somewhere else.
“Our drone flies on average 12 to 14 minutes per battery,” Lanfor said. “That doesn’t sound like much, but believe me, it is enough, even on a complex movie. You take off, you fly, you land, you take off. You are rotating the batteries. Batteries are very expensive, they’re very dangerous, a very high danger of explosions, so they have to be charged and stored properly. People need to be educated about the dangers of the batteries that these devices are using.
“The batteries on the principle drone we fly are $200. With the business there is the cost to be concerned about, the maintenance, there is the upgrade and continuing education, the accessories. It is not only an aircraft, but also a camera system.
“It is not only flying a drone and having a camera,” Lanfor said. “These things are not like cellphones where you just point and shoot. You do have to have knowledge about photography or cinematography, you need to know your camera setting, lighting, how to use filters.
“Biggest risk in drones is that you are multi tasking, you are a pilot and you have to be aware what your aircraft is doing, where you are flying, but you also have to manage your camera. You got to be coordinating all this with the electronic remote control. What do you do when something goes wrong? These drones are building a lot of safety things into them in our days. they are building a lot of technology. People need to be warned that the technology is not an excuse for the pilot being irresponsible. You still need to be the pilot when things go wrong and know how to do it.
“A lot of the technology that is sold is not right, it’s still not perfect,” Lanfor said. “The new drone we want to move to is about a $10,000 investment. We know somebody who has just crashed his, we crashed one, too. But he is blaming the crash on the anti-collision sensors that were supposed to detect things. He said, if he hadn’t turned it on it wouldn’t have been a problem.
“Claims are not true from the companies that the devices are completely autonomous. You need to know how the equipment works and what to do when it fails to work. If you are so focused on taking pictures, that is when you crash into power lines, trees, people or buildings.That happens every day.
“You also need to know aviation meteorology, that is part of the FAA test.That really gets people. Aviation weather forecast is complicated. I have been a pilot all my life and I barely remember how to read them. I have to refresh my memory. It’s not easy,” Lanfor said.
“He has all the photography and piloting,” Secrist said. “He is the technical side of our company. I was a business owner for 18 years prior to living here. I have the creative and business side and work contracts. I am working now on my business degree. That is my backup.”
Christina Stock may be contacted at 575-622-7710, ext. 309, or at email@example.com.