Cedar Beauregard flies his octo-copter, the newest edition to his aerial photography fleet.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Cedar Beauregard flies his octo-copter, the newest edition to his aerial photography fleet.

Steamboat man hopes aerial photography business takes off

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Cedar Beauregard/Courtesy

Steamboat Springs resident Cedar Beauregard took this photo recently showing construction on Lincoln Avenue using his aerial photography equipment. His company, Steamboat Aerials, is evolving into a full-time job.

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Cedar Beauregard/Courtesy

Cedar Beauregard stitches photos together to create these types of panoramic shots.

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Learn more about Cedar Beauregard’s aerial photography and video and see images at www.steamboataerials.com.

— On a windy Thursday afternoon last week, a helicopter, glider and new “octo-copter” were strewn across Cedar Beauregard’s kitchen counter, along with hefty remote controls, expensive cameras and modified goggles that looked like something out of “Back to the Future.”

“I brought out all my toys,” he quipped.

But Beauregard, who worked in construction for 25 years and is a member of the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission, was quick to state that the remote-controlled aircraft and related materials are not toys at all — they’re tools. He’s using the gear to try to make Steamboat Aerials, his budding aerial photography and video business, take off.

“I just love that aerial perspective,” he said. “I’m one of those guys who can get on Google Earth and surf around for hours.”

Beauregard started the business in 2005 but set it aside for a couple of years while construction boomed in Steamboat. With that industry slowed to nearly a standstill, he has returned to the remote controls in an effort to make it a full-time job.

He’s landed contracts in Vail and Aspen, Beauregard said, to take aerial photos for real estate sellers. The state of Wyoming has hired him to shoot aerial photos and video of events such as Cheyenne Frontier Days, he said, to boost the state’s tourism marketing efforts.

He’s shot aerial photos of Lincoln Avenue and Old Town during the downtown repaving project; of a recent controlled burn near Elk Mountain, known as Sleeping Giant; and of 360-degree views from locations including the giant boulders that give Rabbit Ears Pass its name.

He created his unmanned aircrafts by modifying pre-packaged kits. The camera attached beneath the yellow helicopter can swivel while taking rapid-fire pictures. Beauregard said his new octo-copter — named for its eight blades — has a GPS system and other features that allow it to hover at a fixed point.

“There’s about 4 grand sitting on the counter there,” he said, referring to the octo-copter.

Federal Aviation Adminis­tration officials said in Nov­ember that new proposed regulations for “unmanned aircraft systems” could be published in spring 2011, with final regulations in place by early 2012.

“Interest is growing in a broad range of uses such as aerial photography, surveying land and crops, monitoring forest fires and environmental conditions, and protecting borders and ports against intruders,” the FAA statement said. “UAS numbers and mission uses are growing dramatically. In the United States alone, approximately 50 companies, universities and government organizations are developing and producing some 155 unmanned aircraft designs.”

Longtime pilot Bob Mad­dox, owner of Mountain Flight Services, also said regulations still are evolving for unmanned aircraft such as Beauregard’s.

“Those things are operating at such a low altitude that they’ve never been an issue,” Maddox said. “It’s such a new phenomena that there’s really no standard body of thought on it.”

Beauregard acknowledged that the use of unmanned aircraft for commercial purposes presents legal issues, but he said the laws are directed at crafts much larger than his. He said he has a $1 million liability insurance policy related to his aircraft, which he is legally allowed to fly to an altitude of 400 feet in his line of sight.

He intends to keep pursuing commercial contracts while the regulations take shape. Beauregard said he networks with about 50 people across the country who use aircraft similar to his.

“What we’re doing isn’t being policed in any way,” he said. “We’re just in limbo … as with anything that evolves quickly, the laws take a long time to evolve with it.”

He speculated that aerial photography one day could benefit Routt County Search and Rescue or other emergency responders.

For Beauregard, the appeal is undeniable. The goggles allow him to see the view from the nose of the glider while he is guiding it through the sky.

“It’s a lot of fun to do because you’re literally flying around up there,” he said.

Comments

greenwash 4 years, 4 months ago

How much for a photo of the roof of my house?Cant I just download it from Google earth?

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CedarBeauregard 4 years, 4 months ago

Thanks for a well written article Mike.

Here is a flight over my Grandparents house in Strawberry Park..

http://www.vimeo.com/10833960

Enjoy,

Cedar

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Julie Green 4 years, 4 months ago

Cedar, I watched the Strawberry Park video and this is very cool! Good for you to turn something you love and enjoy into an entrepreneurial endeavor. Good luck!

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mmjPatient22 4 years, 4 months ago

Ever get any footage of the downtown construction workers just standing around?

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CedarBeauregard 4 years, 4 months ago

I have been asked for the original file from above.. Please respect all copyright laws.

http://www.cedarbeauregard.com/

Enjoy,

Cedar

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JLM 4 years, 4 months ago

Wow, what a fabulous and cool endeavor. I love the videos and am surprised as to how clear they are. I wonder what kind of camera is being used? The clarity is amazing.

What is the "goggles" hookup?

I love the music as much as the videos.

The business possibilities for something like this are unbelievable. Wouldn't it be interesting to have a video confirmation for something like a Tea Party gathering or the elk moving on the mountain?

Have you figured out how to make a "live stream" using the web?

From an aeronautical perspective, I guess you have no real problems with density altitude?

This is very, very cool.

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greenwash 4 years, 4 months ago

I just watched it....COOL.Different than I thought.How much would it cost me to do something like that?Web?

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CedarBeauregard 4 years, 4 months ago

JLM-

A big part of why this works is the evolution of small HD cameras.

Density altitude is an issue but because I use electrical power I don't have a power issue because of low concentrations of O2. But the stall speeds are effected like real aircraft.

The goggles are simply a way to see the equivalent of a 80" tv screen at 5 feet out in the field. Nothing more than two small tv monitors very close to your eyes and optics that fool you into thinking your looking at what the camera is broadcasting.

I'm sure you could live feed to the web.. Just need enough of an audience to make it worthwhile.

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CedarBeauregard 4 years, 4 months ago

Hi Dave,

I'm charging $249.00 to create a video like the ones you have seen.. The other options are $200.00 each after the initial $249.00 so for example you would get still photos and a video for $449.00.

Or add a spherical panorama and its $649.00. Each offering takes me about the same amount of post processing so I decided to charge the same amount for each and give a discount for the trip out..

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JLM 4 years, 4 months ago

How can I get in contact? I would like to hire you to make a couple of films for me.

I understand what you are saying about the density altitude and O2. Never thought about stalling a helicopter but I guess it's a challenge.

Just curious, what brand goggles are you using?

Thanks.

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