Jan 102013
 

Dateline – January 5, 2013

A rare bird flying over south Denton County.

A rare bird flying over south Denton County.

On Saturday I had the great privilege of joining featured photographer David Mimlitch as he worked on his latest project. I couldn’t have been more thrilled to have been invited along.

David’s forte is aerial photography. He captures absolutely stunning images using a camera mounted on a custom built, remote controlled airplane. David’s work is frequently seen accompanying local news reports, and Dallas area governmental agencies uses his images on websites and promotional pieces.

David sizing up the construction site before take off.

David sizing up the construction site before take off.

David’s airplane is constructed mostly of light weight Styrofoam. Thin sheets of plywood add strength and rigidity at key spots. Colored packing tape applied to the 80in/203cm wings helps David keep the plane oriented from the ground. A small electric motor drives the propeller and provides ample thrust. The stall speed for this plane is very slow—right around 6mph(10km/h). The aircraft literally crawls through the sky.

At 6.5lbs(3kg) the plane is light enough to carry with one hand. The wing is removable to accommodate transport. When assembled the whole thing is held together with ordinary rubber-bands.

The custom built, remote controlled airplane.

The custom built, remote controlled airplane.

Talking shop with David about the technical considerations of designing, building, and controlling his RC plane was fascinating. So too, were the discussions we had about the challenges of taking photographs while on the wing.

A Canon Rebel XS 10.1MP Digital SLR Camera is mounted up front for picture taking duty. Photography is accomplished remotely and intuitively. David triggers the camera from the ground, but he cannot see the view being photographed. He has to use his best judgement about when a picture should be snapped. He kills the motor for brief periods to reduce vibrations while the camera is recording images.

Visible in the is photograph are the control electronics, the small electric motor, and the nose-mounted camera.

Visible in the is photograph are the control electronics, the small electric motor, and the nose-mounted camera.

Pictures are taken remotely with a Canon Rebel XS 10.1MP Digital SLR Camera.

Pictures are taken remotely with a Canon Rebel XS 10.1MP Digital SLR Camera.

For today’s flight, David chose a location at the corner of Sam Rayburn Tollway and Plano Parkway. A massive construction project was recently initiated at this site. Soon a 1.8 million sq ft retail behemoth will stand at this location. I believe it is David’s intention to document the development from start to finish.

On the flight line.

On the flight line.

Airborne at last!

Airborne at last!

This picture gives a good impression of the construction site's massive size.  That's the Dallas North Tollway on the horizon.

This picture gives a good impression of the construction site’s massive size. That’s the Dallas North Tollway on the horizon.

This is a small business park adjacent to the construction site. This picture faces southwest.  Visible in the distance are Schiff Lake and downtown Dallas.

This is a small business park adjacent to the construction site. This picture faces south. Visible in the distance are Schiff Lake and downtown Dallas.

David's airplane at altitude.

David’s airplane at altitude.

This photograph shows the view face north.  The Colony and Lake Lewisville are visible in this picture.

This photograph shows the view facing northwest. The Colony and Lake Lewisville are visible in this picture.

That's me waving at the plane as it flew overhead.

That’s me waving at the plane as it flew overhead.

Coming in after another successful flight.

Coming in after another successful flight.

David has recently created a blog (A Plane Guy’s Perspective) to showcase his projects. Its a good place to get an introduction to his work. His post about this session can be found here.

The full collection of aerial photographs can be found on David’s Flicker page. Some of my favorite sets are listed below, but there are many, many more to see.

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