The dream to fly is one that many Jamaicans wish was theirs….as soon as they could figure out how to “palm” some money to buy their Aviation License. But alas all is not lost; you can get permission from the JCAA (Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority) and do what Skycam Jamaica is doing: Aerial Photography and Videography, both Live and still.
Skycam Jamaica is the brainchild of Architecture Student Ravi Sittol and his partner-in-crime Gabriel Heron who wears the cap of Commercial Director in this two (2) man joint venture that launched earlier in 2013. Their company Skycam Jamaica does Live and Still Photography and Video from a different view, that is literally flying way up above using their mini fleet of Battery powered Hexa-copters (it’s got six rotors!), as evident from Skycam Jamaica’s Facebook Pageand their Graphics Heavy website, Skycam Jamaica.
At 27, Skycam Jamaica reflects Ravi Sittol’s strong fascination with Aviation and Aircraft, but their passions isn’t at the sake of safety as surmised by Ravi Sittol, quote: “We have strict safety measures as it’s a man-made device, so we do a lot of preflight checks”.
They’re registered with the JCAA (Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority) and observe several safety rules such as a ten foot (10 ft) Take-off Radius and Logging flight plans with the JCAA. They also avoid flying within three miles (3 mi) of the Airport or above five hundred feet (500 ft).
Their rates are also very interesting as well, priced at a level that as high as their craft allows:
Video starting at $4000 to $140,000 (possibly higher cost if it’s live!)
Still pictures start at $20,000 (they betta be 1080p and in Colour for that price!)
Despite this, interest in their services remains high and climbing, with their costs justifying their service delivery and the inherent dangers involved, to quote Skycam Jamaica’s Commercial Director Gabriel Heron: “People are very interested. The reality is, because of the technology involved in the service and the risk each time we fly, we can’t give away the service. So we have to consider the possibility of an accident”
Their adventures thus far in this nascent field have been numerous and growing:
Live streaming of Two (2) Dover events
Most likely too, they’ve done Aerial video and photo shoots at Private Parties and Functions (Weddings from above??) and possibly their hexa-copters have seen action in doing aerial Search-and-Rescue, though their Skycam Jamaica Facebook Page doesn’t say.
However founder Ravi Sittol’s quick to distance themselves from their service being a remote controlled drone, oweing to the fact that it’s manually controlled and always in line of site, quote: “We fly way below that [500m]. I like to have it in my line of sight. I’d like to make it clear it is not a drone, it is an aerial camera. A drone has different connotation … about war, spying, invading privacy. This is nothing like that. It’s really for cinematography.”
It won’t be long before the JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force) realizes that this is possible not only among a select few Jamaicans but even criminal elements, who may start to retrofit these RC (Remote Controlled) Aircraft with Ethanol powered Engines for longer range flight and GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) with a NTSC Standard Mini HD Camera.
At that point too, the Police may also wish to have some of these in their fleet as well to reduce the cost of borrowing helicopters from the JDF (Jamaica Defense Force) to do Aerial Patrols over West Kingston, giving them eyes in the sky as well as on the streets as predicted in Jamaica’s National Security Ministry plans CCTV Network and Automated Traffic Ticketing System.
Competition may not be too far behind either, as for US$60 you can purchase a Griffin HELO TC Helicopter as described in “US$60 Griffin HELO TC Helicopter at CES 2012” and have similar adventures. Carrying a Camera with audio capability is what’d test your engineering skills as well as you wallet, as good RC Airplanes and Multi-rotor Helicopters cost as much as an unlocked Apple iPhone!
Locally too in Jamaica, Hexa-copters and Octa-copters (that’s 8 rotors) may end up finding uses as delivery drones for Packages and possibly even Mail! The Jamaica Postal Service in Jamaica, which is looking to cut its strings from the GOJ (Government of Jamaica) and be an independent self-sustaining entity, may opt to go into Package Delivery as well as Online Shopping.
Octa-copters could be added to their arsenal to allow for the automated delivery of small packages in the New Kingston Area and parts of Half Way Tree, Downtown as well as Sovererign. This is already being done in China, where even Cakes have been flying through the air on pre-set delivery routes.
The Postman or Delivery Man riding on motorcycles or bicycles to deliver packages may soon be a thing of the past if this trend catches on in Jamaica among the peeps in the Package Delivery Service Sector. This as it may mean the long-term survival of the Jamaica Postal Service as it’ll work out to be cheaper to not pay so many Delivery Men to deliver packages small packages. It can even be made into a special service to which certain companies subscribe.
Still, until all this comes to pass, this less-than–one-year-old startup Skycam Jamaica is in an exclusive Mile High Club by itself. Albeit limited to 500 feet, the Sky’s the Limit as to the potential of Aerial Photography in Jamaica; Live action Films, News Reporting and events and even Special Delivery of Packages and Mail by the Jamaica Postal Service may soon want an Eye in the sky of their own!
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