HAWKES BAY PHOTOGRAPHER FIRST CERTIFIED DRONE OPERATOR
Hawke’s Bay professional photographer Tim Whittaker, has become the first U.A.V. (unmanned aerial vehicle or drone) operator to be certified by CAA ( Civil Aviation Authority ) in the region and one of only 14 in New Zealand. In August strict new rules were introduced to help control the explosion of U.A.V.’s in the air. CAA designed two new sets of rules for the Radio Controlled devices. CAA rule Part 101 for most users include regulations such as a 400′ height limit, no flying after dusk, no flying over people or property without explicit permission and not within 4km of an aerodrome.
Mr Whittaker has spent nearly 4 months gaining the Part 102 certification which will allow some extensions to the Part 101 rules including flying at night, flying over property if permission cant be obtained. Part of the process to get certified included providing CAA officials with his criminal record, driving record, pilots licence record, obtaining a fit and proper persons report, C.V. and references. Also required, were several large manuals based on operations, safety and maintenance. These were written for Mr Whittakers operation by an Auckland firm . The whole exercise has cost several thousand dollars but he says will be well worth the investment.
Flying U.A.V.’s was a natural extension to Mr Whittakers love of photography and all things airborne already having held type ratings in several fixed wing planes, paramotor and paraglider, microlight and hot air balloon. He has been flying U.A.V.’s now for over five years having built his first models from scratch.
With local authorities, police and emergency services now requiring certified contractors, Mr Whittaker said he hopes to get more work in these areas as well as expanding areas of his photographic business.
The U.A.V. Mr Whittaker uses is the latest technology capable of ultra high resolution video and stills as well as 3D mapping.
NEW TECHNOLOGY GIVES FLIGHT TO PROPERTY SALES
It started life as a top secret toy for the US military but Hawke’s Bay man Tim Whittaker has taken drone technology from the battle field to the property market in a move that is set to revolutionise how houses are marketed and sold.The developer of the Photodrone, photographer and pilot Tim Whittaker, has spent the past two years converting a six-blade radio controlled helicopter fitted with state-of-the-art camera technology from its original use as a spy device to a highly specilised tool for capturing still and video images of property from previously impossible angles.”The Photodrone lets me get high definition still frames and video sweeping right across a property from an aerial position that is quite simply impossible to capture any other way.”These are the angles that most often show the spectacular features of a property and give it a sense of scale and location and so it will become an important future tool in the marketing of all type of commercial and residential property, particularly at the premium end,” said Mr Whittaker.In a competitive market where marketing can make or break the effective sale of property, Mr Whittaker said the Photodrone was giving agents a point of difference and was especially suited to the increasing shift towards ‘online browsing’ for property.”People looking for property like to do it from the comfort of home and to be able to take them from their armchair and instantly have them soaring 40 metres above their dream home and show it to them from every angle and in motion is quite a spectacular experience.”Harcourts estate agent Bronwyn Trafford said the Photodrone had changed the way she was able to promote properties to potential buyers, particularly in coastal areas where the best view was always the previously impossible one to capture.”Tim’s drone can capture a home and it’s best feature – a sweeping rural view or the ocean – in the one shot. If a picture says a thousand words, suddenly I’m telling two thousand in one picture. It’s fantastic.”Mr Whittaker’s Photodrone is now in it’s sixth generation and incorporates micro electronics with constantly evolving UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) technology and an 11 mega pixel camera. The latest version carries a range of sensors all packed into a ‘brain’ the size of a matchbox. Inside it has three gyroscopes, an accelerometer, a barometer, magnetometer and a circuit board to monitor and adjust each of the six motors 400 times a second to keep images steady. The device has now become a daily tool of the trade for Mr Whittaker’s Hawke’s Bay Open2view.com franchise but he has even found it useful for a point of difference in commercial work and even the occasional wedding.”In today’s market with anything we’re trying to sell, point-of-difference and offering something a step up from the guy beside you is what it takes to succeed. That’s exactly what the Photodrone does, and by god it does it beautifully,” said Mr Whittaker.