Mapping Mission Adjacent to Torrance Airport

We recently got a call from a property owner who wanted a precision map of their property. After learning about their needs, the first question we asked was — what is the address of your property so we can confirm it is someplace we can safely fly. When the owner shared that the site was just across the street from Torrance Airport (Class D airspace) we immediately shared that his property’s location might be an issue… but that we’d try to get authorization.

We regularly fly in what is considered “zero grid” or “do not fly” airspace, but this was the closest to Torrance Airport we would had ever flown. So, after reviewing flight patterns and the heights of surrounding buildings, we submitted a request to the airport for our 1 hour flight. We included mitigation to fly lower that usual — but which would avoid any possible conflicts with aircraft. We also shared that we would monitor the airport’s traffic on a special airport traffic frequency radio to ensure a safe mission.

We received permission to fly a few days after submitting our request and we took this “selfie” of intern Mariel and pilot Steven just to document the historic (and safe) event.


Mariel and Steven all setup in a parking lot adjacent to Torrance Airport.

Sky Ladder Drones Supports the FAA’s National Drone Safety Week at Redondo Union High School

Partners WH4, Flying Lion and Sky Ladder Drones supported the FAA’s National Drone Safety Week with a demonstration/presentation during lunch at Redondo Union High School. #DroneWeek #FAANationalDroneSafetyWeek Sky Ladder Drones


Some stickers we handed out.


Barry Brennan of Flying Lion being interviewed by RUHS student TV.

New Randy’s Donuts in Downey

We got to capture history this week with the 2nd ever Randy’s Donuts sign being installed. Yes, it’s a deviation from our construction site mapping work — but I would definitely call it historic documentation! Randy’s Donuts

Congratulations to Randy’s Donuts and San Pedro Electric Sign Company (SPESCO) for the flawless sign fabrication and installation.

Randy’s Donuts new Downey, CA location — Grand opening on October 23, 2019 at 5am!!!

Verifly Case Study Featuring Sky Ladder Drones Published Today

I was interviewed by insurance carrier Verifly a few weeks ago who supplies “on demand” insurance to the drone industry (and now just added General Liability insurance ‘on demand.’)  They did a good job capturing how we use their products.

Their insurance offering allows thousands of “startup” pilots to fly responsibility (with drone liability insurance) — which is exactly what it did for us here at Sky Ladder Drones.  The Verifly offering now provides us the ability to add insurance for additional drones “on demand” when we have large jobs beyond our standard annual liability policy. And, their new offering of ‘on demand’ General Liability insurance is really reasonable when our customers require it.


Monitoring Ship Emissions at the Port of Los Angeles

It was a beautiful day at the Port of Los Angeles today – clear, warm and a light breeze. We were there to support the Danish company,, demonstrate their emission monitoring system for dignitaries in politics and environmental monitoring. Their system mounts on a DJI M600 drone and when flown in the plume of a ship’s smokestack can monitor emissions.  (Think of it as a smog check for large ships — but without ever having to board the ship!)

Getting the permit to fly at the Port of Los Angeles took many long hours of applications and insurance paperwork, but in the end we are now qualified to fly missions at the Port of Los Angeles. Now that we’re qualified, we just need to submit a request and pay for the Port Police escort!

Currently ship emissions are mostly unmonitored — meaning that the emissions laws for the United States and State of California are not enforced. This solution can change that in a very non-invasive way!


The sensor mounted on the M600 drone — you can see the small white tube protruding from one of the arms if you look closely.  The drone is lined-up with the plume from CSUMA Golden Bear ship.


The California State University Maritime Academy (CSUMA) Golden Bear ship was the host for the demonstration and a terrific lunch reception.


Guests of and ADEPT get briefed on the technology and watch the demonstration from our 65inch TV monitor inside the command center van.

Drone ‘Over-Watch’ at the 1st Annual Beachlife Festival

It was a great weekend… we arrived back from the AUVSI XPONENTIAL Conference in cool Chicago to 75-80 degree sunny weather in Redondo Beach.

Via Flying Lion’s contract with Redondo Beach Police Department, we provided aerial ‘over-watch’ for the first annual Beachlife Festival. Supporting the Redondo Beach Police, Fire and Public Works department — the Flying Lion team had at least one drone in the air for all 27 hours of the festival. Drones remained over the perimeter of the Festival to avoid flights over people.  This helped monitor medical emergencies, traffic and police activities.

In addition to over-watch support, we had a technology team that was able to detect and monitor non-sanctioned drones in the area. This allowed the Police to contact pilots to have them avoid the Festival area to ensure a fully safe environment for Festival attendees.

Here’s a photo of the command post:

Flying Lion drone and Police Command Centers support the Beachlife Festival.


Photo from within the 1st Annual Beachlife Festival in Redondo Beach.

My Business Partner and friend Barry Brennan (Flying Lion) won the 2019 AUVSI XCELLENCE AWARD!

This year’s AUVSI XPONENTIAL conference was terrific. Besides visiting with some amazing vendors and seeing new/old friends, the big news is that my business partner and friend Barry Brennan of Flying Lion just won the 2019 AUVSI XCELLENCE AWARD for Training and Education!

And yes, I can take a little credit since I nominated him… but he really deserved it for creating a very unique community college program which includes Part 107 test prep, flight training and 120 hours of externship “on the job” training.

auvsixcellence auvsixpo


Barry Brennan received 2019 AUVSI XCELLENCE AWARD from AUVSI President & CEO Brian Wayne


Fellow Flying Lion instructor Yvonne Watkins and I pose with award winner Barry Brennan (Founder of Flying Lion.)


We arrived in Chicago (L. to R) – Barry Brennan (Founder of Flying Lion), Yvonne Watkins (Instructor, Flying Lion), and Steven Katz (Instructor, Flying Lion)



Great (but Hot) Day Capturing Images to Map 1,200 Acres for Cut/Fill Analysis!

Terrific job Adrian in piloting today! He took the lead as the remote pilot in command on a large 1,200 acre image capture. It was close to 90+ degrees today (and when you are on a pile of dirt with no vegetation it felt even hotter!)  Our client will be using the data to do a cut/fill analysis of this very large site.

The capture was successful but there were two casualties — Our iPad overheated and the screen broke and the adhesive on Adrian’s shoes failed and started flapping around. So what do you do when this happens??? You just pull the soles off the shoes and keep working!!!

Great job in this hot and difficult location.


Steven and Adrian after a successful 1200 acre mapping capture!


In the middle of the job, the adhesive on Adrian’s shoes failed from the heat outside and on the dirt… so what do you do???  You just pull them off and keep working!


Adrian at the top of the hill while mapping 1200 acres.

Beverly Hills – Construction: Documenting Rebar Before Concrete Pour

It was a cool and windy afternoon today in Beverly Hills documenting the construction of a high-end “private residence” property. It made flying a little more technical — with the takeoff zone on the ground level (supported by JJ) and a Visual Observer/Pilot positioned at the top of the new 11th floor. (See picture of how our operating areas were setup.)

Why the urgency in flying today??? Because we were helping to document the rebar and other utilities which will be buried when the concrete is poured tomorrow.

To ensure a safe flight, we had a “Split Operating Area.” — this helped maintain visual line-of-sight and ensured we avoided the crane in the middle of the property.

The crane operator shared that his equipment recorded wind gusts of 26mph. Our Phantom 4 Pro v2 handled the wind beautifully and resulted in a terrific capture.

This 360 degree panorama which captured both the progress of the project and the beautiful/clear day. In the distance you can see the Hollywood Sign, Griffith Observatory, Downtown LA, and even snow on the San Gabriel Mountains in the distance.

#IloveLA #dronemapping #constructionprogress


Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Count Cars

We’ve been experimenting with a new car counting Artificial Intelligence (AI) feature one of our software partners has in beta testing — and it is really impressive! Check out the video link below to see the feature in action.

We’re also working with another partner who has a system which can be trained to recognize almost any object… and automatically count the objects. Here are some applications we’ve thought might benefit from this technology…
– Counting people in a crowd (without flying over the crowd)
– Counting animals
– Counting of autos, buses, cars, or train cars
– Traffic surveys counting moving cars in video or real-time
– And, by adding additional technology, reading trailer ID numbers on the top of trucks or trailers

Do you have a crazy idea??? If so, please send us a note.

Here’s a video of artificial intelligence counting in action:



Here’s a screenshot from the video if you don’t want to watch the 2 minute video: