Featured NewsTrending NewsPilots StoriesPilot Story: Mark Weber


28 February 2024

By Mark Weber

It has been many years since my service as a tech technician working on F15 fighter jets for the the United States Air Force, with many different jobs since then in businesses and government.

But now, I find myself coming full circle in my career working with unmanned aircraft systems. 

I love that as a drone pilot, videographer, and remote pilot in command, I get to put to use all of the knowledge and skills I’ve acquired along the way for different clients and different projects. 

For example, I spent several years working for the California Governor’s Office of Homeland Security, receiving training and certifications in security by environmental design and threat mapping—experience I now draw on to advise clients on establishing drone programs for security and law enforcement uses.

Later, I led a startup e-commerce, social-enterprise business with my wife, where we partnered with artisans and nonprofits in Asia and Africa to market and sell their products in the U.S., and with a focus on telling their unique stories. I bring this experience with me when working with small business and nonprofit clients that want to tell their story through video and reach new audiences in an impactful way.

I lived in Thailand and taught English to children and working professionals. Now, I love teaching people the basics of drone piloting and advising new pilots how to get certified, as well as educating the many curious bystanders who approach me when flying (though I have them wait until I have landed to talk—safety first!).

I feel so lucky to get to put all of my cumulative experience to work for my clients. 

Above all, I love to have conversations with my clients, dig into their needs and their vision, and figure out how we can partner to deliver a product that exceeds their expectations. I ask a lot of questions, offer a lot of outside the box ideas, and end up building relationships that last well beyond the project. 

I got my first drone shortly before the COVID lockdown, and kept my sanity during that tough time by practicing flying through the steep, narrow canyons of the San Gabriel mountains near my home in Sierra Madre, California. It also got me out of the house, which helped my wife keep her sanity!

I learned a lot, crashed a little, and fell in love with drones, aerial videography and photography, and all of the amazing capabilities and applications of new drone technology and sensors. 

A lifelong film nerd who follows directors and cinematographers, and whose personal hero is David Attenborough, I love the process of creating a work of art through film—especially involving nature. I feel so fortunate to have been able to film in such stunning locations as Homer, Alaska, Traverse City, Michigan, and multiple locales around Lake Michigan, Madison, Wisconsin, the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, the Grand Canyon, all over Southern California, and Maui, Hawaii.

Capturing the changing light and colors of the landscape, the lights of the cities and streets, the architecture and construction always provides a thrill. I especially love shooting over water, despite the challenges that can present. I am a surfer and beach boy at heart, and take every opportunity I can to film the coast, rivers, streams, and lakes (though I stand by my opinion that the ocean is best!). It’s my dream to get to film some big wave surfing, and I know I’ll get there someday.

I’ve also had the amazing opportunity to provide aerial filming for a soon to be released documentary film. That project included technically challenging shots in both indoor and outdoor settings that taught me a lot about things like magnetic and electrical fields and how they affect drone communication equipment and flight controls.

Fortunately, the basics of mechanical and electrical engineering I learned in the Air Force served me well then, and continue to serve me well when it comes to monitoring and maintaining my drone fleet. It was also fascinating to be part of a production team working with an experienced Director who is also a Director of Photography in Hollywood productions. I learned so much from him. 

Beyond film, I enjoy the challenge of mastering all of the capabilities that drones can offer, such as 3D mapping, volumetric measurements, and project site progression monitoring. I am constantly researching the newest developments in drone, camera, and sensors technology, changes in FAA regulations and practices, and trends for drones in different industries and applications, from agriculture to climate change mapping to drone-based goods movement. I love experimenting with my drones, testing new techniques and capabilities, and figuring out the best way to nail a specific shot, data collection, or project goal. If it’s something I haven’t done before, all the better! 

I have my FAA part 107, Commercial Remote Pilot Certificate. I believe strongly that understanding the intricacies and developments within an evolving industry is crucial for staying ahead in today's competitive market. That is why I continuously seek out opportunities to improve my skill set through training and ongoing professional development.

As a result, I recently received the following credentials: 3D Mapping and Photogrammetry through Citrus College, Certified Drone Photographer through the Professional Photographers of America, Certified Drone Program Administrator, Certified in DroneDeploy Aerial Fundamentals, Certified DroneDeploy Pilot, and I am currently in the process of completing a certification program in Drone Search and Rescue (estimated completion date of 3/1/24). 

By consistently educating myself about industry trends, best practices, and emerging technologies, I am equipped with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions and drive innovation within the drone industry. Continuous learning and self-education in the industry ensure that I remain adaptable, agile, and ready to seize opportunities for growth and success.

I maintain a diverse and growing inventory of equipment that currently includes DJI’s Mavic Air 2S, Phantom 4 Pro, and Mavic Mini 4 Pro (accompanied by a variety of accessories, including filters and lighting) with a wide range of capabilities including professional photography, videography, and various forms of data capture.

In addition to aerial services, I can provide videography and photography services using anything from a Sony A3 camera and various stabilizing tools to 6k capable action cameras well-equipped to capture stunning visuals and create compelling content. The combination of drones and videography equipment offers you the versatility and flexibility to produce high-quality videos, photogrammetric data capture, and aerial shots for a variety of projects.

Leveraging this array of equipment effectively can helps showcase creativity, capture point cloud data for a variety of 3-D mapping projects, and capture stunning aerial photography. In addition to video and photo capturing, I can also provide editing services if needed. Prices will vary for editing services, depending on the complexity and timeline of the project.

In closing, I feel privileged to work in this exciting and rapidly evolving industry, and I bring that excitement to every new project I take on. I am committed to understanding customers’ unique needs and developing customized products and solutions that solve problems, contribute value, and enhance their lives in some way. From the technical to the data-driven to the cinematic, I look forward to hearing about your needs and contributing value to your project!

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