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Madison Daily Leader home : news : content
Sioux Falls man builds remote-control helicopter business
By: The Associated Press 06/16/2003
The Sioux Falls resident, formerly of Seattle, suffered setbacks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. National security officers keep a close eye on his miniature remote-controlled helicopters, since they can carry a payload of equipment

But Brady's choppers carry only cameras that produce digital video sharp enough for broadcast.

"I've had Homeland Security all over me, although things are easing up a little," said Brady, who just finished an ariel shoot for a Seattle documentary filmmaker. "I think the guys who fly the full-size helicopters have a harder time."

Video and stills from his unmanned system are as good as images produced by full-size systems, he said: "You really can't tell the difference, which is great for me."

Since his system is digital, sharp still-frame shots can be taken from video shoots, too, for use in print productions.

Insurance issues and gaining special permission for on-location shoots are a big part of his job, since there is some liability in flying equipment over people in sports arenas, or with possible damage to landmark buildings.

"Again, 9-11 hurt me in another way, when insurance companies just dropped people like us," Brady said.

"One company said they could insure me as long as the equipment doesn't leave the ground," he said. "But I'm back in business now. I just finished another project in Grand Forks."

Brady shot aerial footage for the University of North Dakota's Aerospace Radio Control group. The footage will be used for an orientation video for incoming aviation students, said UND-ARC member and university senior Stewart Langenberg.

"There are great scenes of our aviation building, the hockey arena, and some of the UND campus," Langenberg said. "The video isn't finished, but now that we have the footage we'll be working on it again this fall."

Brady's RC helicopters are called UPVs, or unmanned piloted vehicles. It was just a hobby for a decade until he experimented with video equipment, taking it up to 600 feet high. For some jobs, he simply turns over the digital video tape to the client, while he does the editing himself for others.

Brady hopes to turn Helivision into a full-time job. Meanwhile, he has a sideline, called Enviroclean. The vacuum-looking appliance uses only a little water to sanitize, clean and deodorize virtually any surface without using chemicals.

"Aerial photography and Enviroclean: I guess I couldn't be doing two things that were more opposite," he said.

Meanwhile, he's pursuing more contracts for his aerial photography business. The price for projects varies widely, he said, depending on what the client wants, although it is a fraction of the price of hiring a full-sized helicopter

Brady's helicopters also can do low-level photography that full-sized helicopters can't do.

"We don't have the large, obnoxious turbine overhead beating the wind like for full-size helicopters," he said. "And now a company that perhaps couldn't afford the fuel of a full-size doesn't have to have such deep pockets to accomplish the same thing."

©Madison Daily Leader 2003
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