Beautiful (and Successful) Day in Playa Vista – Flying in LAX “Zero Grid”

The Sky Ladder Drones team was treated to a beautiful day in Playa Vista today. You could see from the Pacific to Getty Center to Hollywood Sign/Observatory to Snow Capped Mountains. We had 3 teams flying at one point… on two different jobs. It was great having some new people (welcome to Miguel and Edgar) who came out to start learning about commercial drone operations and mapping. And Jordan and JJ were our videography team for the day. And special thanks to my partner, Barry Brennan from Flying Lion who helped keep everything organized and provided us with the very comfortable command post van.


Barry, Edgar, Miguel and Steven pose between flights.

Steven, Barry, Jordan and JJ take a “drone-selfie” with the Ballona Freshwater Marsh in the background.



Playa Vista Mapping – Approval from LAX Received to Fly in Restricted “Zero Grid” Airspace

We just got approval to fly in LAX restricted airspace (aka “Zero Grid”) to support a mapping project of Ballona Marsh and Teale Creek in Playa Vista. Planned for this Friday.


Great Press!!! Sky Ladder Drones included in Santa Monica College Article

Through our close partnership with Flying Lion, Inc. who provides training programs at community colleges and law enforcement agencies – Sky Ladder Drones was included in an article by Santa Monica College Extension. They published the article in their Spring 2019 Class Catalog (page 5) about our Point Dume Club Mapping project and how two extern students (Adrian and JJ) participated in this operation.

The partnership with Flying Lion benefits both organizations — Flying Lion provides professional, well training  students who need externship hours… and Sky Ladder Drones is able to provide “real world” commercial operations where they can take their theoretical education and turn it into practical skills.

Here is a link to Santa Monica College’s article. Flying Lion’s Commercial Drone Pilot Training courses have been taught at four different Southern California community colleges.

Spring 2019 – Santa Monica College Class Catalog (see page 5)


Article on Santa Monica College Externship Students  (see page 5)


Irvine, CA: Onsite Testing of the New DJI Phantom 4-RTK Drone & Propeller AeroPoints

We were onsite in Irvine to test out the new DJI Phantom 4-RTK drone and RTK base station. This was truly a collaboration: Site access from the customer, drone borrowed from one partner, Propeller Aeropoints from another partner and services from our team at Sky Ladder Drones. Also, the site already has fixed ground control points (GCPs.)

We flew multiple test flights — including having the DJI base station RTK on and RTK off. Also, we flew both our DJI Phantom 4 Pro and Phantom 4 Pro v2 drones.

Also, thanks to our friends at Propeller — they are processing one flight with their new PPK Processing. If we can get results with similar accuracy as using the bulky and cumbersome DJI RTK base station with only a single Propeller Aeropoint, it could significantly streamline our client’s capture workflow. Also the GCPs are difficult to maintain on a active work site — so eliminating (or minimizing) the GCPs would also save a lot of time and money. The customer is doing cut/fill analysis on the site to measure the amount of dirt movement completed, and what is still required. So accuracy is critically important.

We’ll keep you informed as the results come in…


Setup with the Phantom 4-RTK & DJI D-RTK 2 Mobile Station (aka “Base Station”)

Close-up of DJI D-RTK 2 Mobile Station in field

Propeller AeroPoint placed over a known point (for testing of Propeller’s new PPK Processing) – 10 AeroPoints were placed strategically for GCP/checkpoints.

Level on the DJI D-RTK 2 Mobile Station (I thought it would be a cool photo to share)


Point Dume, Malibu: Donating our services

Sky Ladder Drones had a good… no, a great day today! We had operations with our newest team members in Northern California mapping 300 acres, a second pilot mapping 600 acres in Irvine, and what I’m most proud of — donating our services to a Malibu community.

We are donating our drone mapping services to a community in Malibu. A friend of mine lost her Point Dume home in the Wolseley Fire and are providing a current map of the whole community including the homes that burned. Thank goodness, the majority of her community which was saved by some heroic residents.


2/5/19 – UPDATE:  Santa Monica College Extension published an article in their Spring 2019 Class Catalog about this project and how two extern students (Adrian and JJ) participated in this operation.

Spring 2019 – Santa Monica College Class Catalog (see page 5)


Article on Santa Monica College Externship Students  (see page 5)


After the rains

After being rained out on Monday… this was my office yesterday at a site in Santa Clarita, CA. Largest mapping mission we’ve done to date!!! And it was a beautiful sunset also! #dronemapping #skyladderdrones

[I know I’ve been posting a lot of team and personal pictures recently… I hope to be able to share some “results” links later this week.]

What a difference a year makes

What a difference a year makes… check out the Monterey Park Market Place where I’ve been documenting the construction progress monthly for the last year. Home Depot, Costco, Chick-fil-A, and In-n-Out are now open for business. This location was a landfill (and an EPA superfund site)… and now a really busy shopping center. Checkout these 360 spherical panoramas from December 2017 and December 2018. It was a beautiful day yesterday… clear view of downtown and snow on Mount Baldy. #iloveLA #skyladderdrones

December 2018

December 2017

Scripps Mercy Hospital San Diego

I had a great day today with a terrific team of professionals. We got authorization and safely flew in San Diego Class B “zero grid” and at a hospital with an active heliport. It was a lot of coordination that will hopefully payoff for our client. Pilots were positioned at the top of the tower with a ground crew handling batteries and memory cards 200feet below. skyladderdrones