February 20, 2019

By K. Daniel Glover

When you’re fighting cancer, it helps to know your friends are there for you. Leo Zambori has a whole host of them who showed their support in a creative way. They retained a volunteer drone pilot.

More than two years later, Zambori still cherishes the memory, according to his mother. “The photo was an amazing pick-me-up for Leo,” Natalie Zambori said after drone pilot Jeremy Lewis re-posted the image on Facebook in January for Leo’s birthday. “He loved and still loves to look at this photo. I remember him saying ‘Wow, all those people did that for me?’”

Lewis, the owner of Flying Dream Aerial Imaging Services in Martins Ferry, Ohio, captured the memory for the Zamboris not long after he started flying unmanned aircraft systems. He gained early experience on the grounds of Martins Ferry City Schools and put together a video.

When Leo Zambori was diagnosed with leukemia at age 5, school officials and students wanted to let him know he wasn’t alone in the fight. Middle school principal Mike Delatore remembered Lewis’ drone work and reached out to him with an idea – an aerial photo of the student body spelling out Zambori’s name on the football field.

Lewis did the shoot solo, and it took about 20 minutes. “They all assembled on the field in the middle of the track that morning and spelled out Leo’s name along with a heart,” he recalled. “That pretty much says it all. They all came together as one to support this little boy and his family. I was blessed to be allowed to be a part of it.”

Zambori is now in second grade. He loves sports in general and baseball in particular, and he’s a loyal fan of all Pittsburgh sports teams. He has four months left in his three-year, five-month chemotherapy protocol.

The emergence of unmanned aircraft systems rekindled a love of aviation that dated to Lewis’ youth. He took flying lessons when he was about 10 years old, and only a vision test kept him from pursuing a career as a Navy pilot.

Lewis has worked at a materials testing laboratory for more than 20 years, but he never stopped dreaming about seeing the world from the air, including from his son’s remote-control airplane. “I remember trying to figure out how I could possibly get a small camera attached to it. … Unfortunately, technology wasn’t quite there yet,” he said.

A chance encounter at a local high school football game a few years ago opened Lewis’ eyes to the possibilities. A pilot who had been flying a drone during halftime sat right next to Lewis in the stands, with his DJI Phantom 3 Professional drone still in the original box.

“I spoke to my wife and within a month I had ordered my first drone and found a whole new passion,” Lewis said. After about a year of flying, he earned his Part 107 certificate first thing in the morning of the first day that the Federal Aviation Administration offered the airman knowledge test to drone pilots.

Lewis’ primary focus is aerial imagery, including for real-estate agents. He also has conducted aerial roof inspections and completed mapping projects. His work for Wheelhouse Creative, a local advertising agency, has resulted in his imagery being used in television and Internet ads.

“I tend to lean toward the artistic side of aerial work,” Lewis said, sometimes for clients and other times to highlight the beauty of the Ohio Valley he calls home.

He sells prints and products like clothing, home décor and coffee mugs with his photos on them. He upgraded rigs from the Phantom 3 Professional to DJI’s Inspire 2 with an X5S camera in order to get better picture quality for large prints.

Lewis only flies in his spare time but already has an “expert” rating in the aerial photography community SkyPixel. “I believe there are approximately 175 or so experts out of over 10 million registered users,” he said. “I never would have imagined that when I started this journey.”

All imagery in this “Mission Report” was provided by Flying Dreams Aerial Imaging Services. If you have a story to tell about an interesting drone project, please email your suggestions to the publisher.

January 21, 2019

By K. Daniel Glover Alaska Aerial Media’s goal of convincing government agencies in The Last Frontier to explore the next aviation frontier paid off late last year after an earthquake hit near Anchorage. The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities hired the company to map the damages with its fleet of drones. The 7.0 […]

June 26, 2018

By K. Daniel Glover Throughout childhood and into college, I pictured the adult version of myself in a whole host of careers. The ideas ranged from the predictable (doctor) and practical (electrician) to the sensible (electrical engineer) and fantastical (wildlife photographer). One future that I never could have imagined, or that any aptitude test could […]

January 16, 2018

By K. Daniel Glover From CES in Las Vegas (last week) to the National Drone Show and D.C. Drone Film Festival in the nation’s capital (November/December), this year is chock-full of events that touch every aspect of the drone industry — business, government and culture. It’s a lot to track, so we’ve pulled them all […]

January 13, 2018

Collaboration with the drone industry, state and local governments, and the public is the key to successfully integrating drones into the national airspace system, federal officials said this week at the nation’s biggest technology trade show. “Let’s figure out the right balances,” Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy Finch Fulton said at CES in Las […]

December 14, 2017

By K. Daniel Glover A drone pilot crashed his Phantom 4 small unmanned aircraft system into a U.S. Army helicopter in September because he was flying it out of his line of sight, the National Transportation Safety Board concluded today. The drone pilot was a hobbyist, not a commercial operator who had passed an airman’s […]

October 18, 2017

By K. Daniel Glover When disaster strikes these days, it doesn’t take long for drone pilots to document the damage from the air – and for people to start talking about the imagery. The reactions tend to fall into one of two camps. Those who appreciate the aerial perspectives of nature’s fury celebrate the technology […]

August 21, 2017

By K. Daniel Glover This “Pilot Spotlight” is part of an ongoing series. We’re always looking for ideas. If you have a story to tell or an aerial specialty to share, please email your suggestions to the publisher. Keith Muratori has made a career out of fighting fires – and photographing them. Now he is […]

July 22, 2017

Our publisher (and Airscape Photography owner) Danny Glover is taking advantage of a long weekend in his home state of West Virginia by snapping aerial photos with his Phantom 3 Professional. The picture above was taken along the Ohio River in Paden City. The factory in the upper right is Marble King, the town’s most […]

July 20, 2017

By K. Daniel Glover The latest Innovation Scorecard from the Consumer Technology Association grades all 50 states based on their drone laws. Arizona, Georgia and Michigan are at the top of the drone-friendly list because of their efforts to harmonize laws statewide. States like Louisiana, Oklahoma and Wisconsin, on the other hand, are creating rules […]