People say pictures are worth a thousand words and Derek Bouza likes to tell stories from a distance—400 feet to be exact. Three years ago, he took his lifelong interest in photography and flight to new heights when, at the suggestion of his brother, he pre-ordered an unmanned aircraft system better known as a drone. Bouza is among a growing number of recreational small drone pilots but also used his Phantom model aircraft to launch Ninth Planet Media, an aerial photography business. The equipment weighs less than five pounds and is about the size of a small microwave. The Consumer Electronics Association predicts that U.S. consumers will buy 340,000 drones this year. That’s double the number purchased last year. For Bouza, the thrill is in doing something he loves and seeing people’s reactions to his images. “I love seeing things from up high,” he explained. “To be able to capture a view like that for others is amazing. It’s not about whatever money I make or the business. It’s all about the passion for me.” The device is able to hover over a location by linking to satellites. In addition to photography, it can also stream high-definition video back to a smartphone or tablet. “It takes the point of view to a whole new level,” said Bouza, who mounts his iPhone to the drone.

“I can see what the drone sees even though I’m on the ground. The images are un- matched. It’s just amazing.” The drone is powered by a lithium battery, which has a 25-minute life. When the battery begins to die, Bouza explained, it “knows” to return to takeoff location. While it can travel a couple of thousand feet in the air and up to five miles away. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules require users to follow the same guidelines governing model planes. Users must keep the aircraft in sight at all times, below 400 feet, well clear of manned aircraft, people, stadiums and obstacles such as power lines. A 2014 FAA report cited about 200 drone incidents nationwide involving the flying of drones too close to aircraft and the illegal use in residential neighborhoods. A drone was also intercepted flying over the White House. Some states have enacted laws restricting drone usage.

Last year, Tennessee enacted two laws making it a misdemeanor for a private entity to conduct video surveillance of a person hunting or fishing and for a person to use a drone to conduct surveillance of an individual in a place where that person has a reasonable expectation of privacy–particularly, their property. Bouza said that privacy is a concern he often hears when describing his work. “I respect people’s privacy and never take photos of anyone without their express consent,” he said. “It’s the same as with any camera, this one just happens to be in the air.” Article by Tiffany Dale, GCANews.com – June 10, 2015 http://www.gcanews.com/local-man-uses-drone-to-view-the-world-from-400-feet/

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