ShareThis Page
Drone camera takes hobbyist to new heights in Dayton |

Drone camera takes hobbyist to new heights in Dayton

Louis B. Ruediger | Trib Total Media
Lars Rosell uses drones to take aerial photographs of the area.
Louis B. Ruediger | Trib Total Media
Lars Rosell of Armstrong Aerial Photography flies his drone at Kittanning's Riverfront Park.

Lars Rosell hoped to make money by selling photographs taken with a camera-mounted drone he owns, but until government regulations catch up with the technology, his Armstrong Aerial Photography business is going to have to stay grounded.

“The FAA is in the process of regulating drone usage,” Rosell said. “I thought I’d be able to make money out of it, but I can’t because regulations are not set yet. So it’s just a hobby.”

Rosell is from Sweden and lives in Dayton. He is retired from the Royal Swedish Air Force and is the technology coordinator of Lenape Technical School in Manor. For 30 years, he has been flying remote controlled airplanes and helicopters for fun. Now, with the development of camera-mounted small-scale drones in recent years, hobbyists like Rosell are getting to see the world from new heights.

Taking photos or videos for recreational use is permitted by the government. But making money from the footage pushes the activity into a hazy area that requires special authorization, Rosell said.

On Thursday, Rosell took his DJI Phantom drone for a spin near the steps of the John P. Murtha Amphitheater in Kittanning’s Riverfront Park. He maneuvered the white plastic drone easily above the Allegheny River, viewing the aerial footage on his smart phone which was mounted to the remote control device.

The drone is surprisingly light and small, weighing in at about 1.5 pounds and measuring 15 inches across in two directions. It sounded like a swarm of bees as all four rotors spun to a barely visible blur.

“It’s a lot of fun, but you have to take time to learn,” Rosell said.

People who decide to get into flying drones need to be responsible and practice a lot, he said. And people have to follow guidelines established by the FAA. That means flying under 400 feet, clear of obstacles – and always flying within the line of sight. Drone operators must also steer clear of people, stadiums and airports or risk getting fined.

Rosell suggests those planning to take up the hobby practice flight coordination using computer simulated programs. Once that is mastered, it’s time to practice outdoors.

“It takes a lot of practice. And you will crash – everybody crashes,” he said. “But without practice, it will end up in a pine tree on Christmas Day.”

He said drones have gotten a bad rap because of misuse by inexperienced people and their association with spying. But since small-scale drones used by hobbyists don’t have the capacity to get detailed photos, they don’t pose much of a privacy problem, he said.

“There’s more of a privacy issue with Google Street View,” he said.

Rosell, who is a member of Ford City’s Civil Patrol Squadron, hopes that once definitive regulations are passed, the drones can assist rescue workers at emergencies.

“It’s a new technology and there will be new ways of using them. If you handle them right, they will enhance our life,” he said.

And until government regulations are shored up, Rosell said he is content to fly his drones for pleasure.

“My mission right now is to take pictures around where I live and find interesting views,” he said. “You get to see the world from a perspective you usually don’t get to see.”

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or [email protected]

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.