FAA Grounds Local Aerial Photo Business



BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. (WCCO) – Charles Eide and Mike Danielson have been flying radio controlled aircraft since they little kids growing up in the same neighborhood.

As adults they formed a business, sharing a love of video production and photography.

Soon, they discovered their hobby could merge with their business, which took a huge leap when they began taking on aerial photographic work.

By mounting stabilized cameras onto the bellies of the drone aircraft, Eide and Danielson can offer customers a bird’s-eye view of anything from construction sites, to city attractions, to real estate listings.

“It helps sell houses, which is really in my opinion a huge economic impact in the Twin Cities — helps houses move faster,” Eide said.

Business was booming, until a call came from the Minneapolis office of the Federal Aviation Administration. They were simply told to ground their commercial use of the aircraft. Turns out, current regulations don’t allow unmanned aircraft for commercial purposes.

In fact, their use is strictly prohibited from operating in what the FAA defines as “Class B” airspace. That’s found in densely populated areas around key airport traffic routes, most often the airspace surrounding the busiest airports with a high volume of commercial air traffic.

Eide says he understands the need for safety regulations, but argues that his company has its own flight safety protocols. They rarely fly more than 200 feet above the ground and will never operate near airports.

“What we’re doing is low-range stuff to show off the real estate market and features in a house or property,” Danielson said.

The FAA says the urban airspace demands strict safety restrictions. Eide understands, but argues with tens of thousands of dollars invested in radio controlled aircraft, flying safely is job No. 1.

“I agree that there should be regulation on this stuff because there are more and more hands touching this stuff,” Eide said. “However, we need to work together here.”

The duo wants to work with the FAA over this. The current rules are clear, but the FAA is going to look at these rules on Friday.

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  • Moderator

    Sure, will do.


  • Gary we have developed our own sylabus. Much of it is based on AMA regulations, RCAPA guidelines and our own company guidelines we have internally developed. The purpose is to start creating standards that are taught and implemented. We may open the safety segments to the public for free access to watch online. 

    Dwsparky, I appreciate it. Lets stay in touch. 

  • Moderator


    I am man enought to stand up and admit that I was wrong, My apologies for that .

    Good luck with your ventures and the FAA.


  • Yes. I am new here. Had no idea about this until i started getting hundreds of pissed off drone enthusiasts. The reporter was told about us by someone in our community. He immediately identified with our situation and came out the same day he called. I had no idea the response from all of the people. The class is banding together people, showing we care about this and the safety of it. No offense taken. 

  • Moderator

    What approved training syllabus is being used?? I guess the AMA guidelines are the only ones over there that hold any sway. If you really want to become a pro perhaps move to Europe and operate legally until at least 2020, the year the FAA itself says it may start allowing civil commercial operations. 2015 is for RAPS. Having said that if they don't do something soon I can't see how on earth they will control ops in 2020.

  • Moderator

    Hi Charles and the others .

    I think you all bring a lot of very valid points to this and I was not trying to be offensive with my post, it was just an observation. I wish you good luck with the FAA and the AMA and I will be very interested on the outcome of the legal discussions that the interview refered to that were going to be held the next day.

    I am just a bit curious how the journalist got wind of this situation when the FAA called your company. ? someone must have told them.

    Good luck and I sincerly hope you get a good resolution to this. I actually do agree that the average Rc modeller usually operates in a less secure enviroment than a everyday operator.

    Best regards




  • Mathew Beck brought the article to this community.. and I highly doubt that Charles even knew this place existed before a bunch of us started emailing him directly (which I did).. only then did he appear on here. 

    The other nice thing about offering a class is to find other people in the immediate area to show the FAA that there is a community that will fight it.

  • Moderator


    I have no interest in trying to find a secret agenda with this, I want to fly UAV's. it is my passion and I will support anyone who shares that passion. I took the time to visit the website of the company and they seem to operate in a correct and proffessional manner with all that they do. They have been in the photography business a while.

    So on that basis I would have expected a proffesional response when they received the alleged call from the FAA,

    As a business owner myself if someone claims to be from the FAA (or any other organisation ) and they want me to stop doing my activity then I want a written comfirmation of what law I'm breaking, who is accusing me of doing this and why I should stop.  A telephone call would not be acceptable to me in your society.

    On the other hand bringing this claim to a community of 36000+ UAV minded people and then offering a training class to use UAV's correctly in a business IS extremely targeted advertising.

    Just an observation, no malice intended.

  • Thanks Josh and LanMark. You guys hit it on the head. Dwgsparky, when we were approached about the story, we had to proceed with caution. Thank goodness that the journalist took our side on the piece. No way could I gain that kind of exposure as a publicity stunt. If I had that power, I would use it in far better ways. The point is this issue needs to stop being avoided. We need to push the FAA to understand that this is a viable commercial application and is safe in the right hands. We decided to take action on it by SHOWING the FAA and the AMA that we are serious. So we are going to teach others how to do it safely. They are doing it anyways....lets be safe and in the open about it. Thats why we are having the event. To make safer pilots, and prove how many people are serious about this as a legitimate profession. 

  • It got picked up because someone caught wind of it here and then its a firestorm of people bringing it to the attention of many many other people that are all wanting a resolution on this matter.

    The class thing is likely to show that we can be respectable business people... which is in response to the FAA saying to stop doing what they are doing.

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