Log In

Reset Password

Flying high for a living

First Prev 1 2 3 4 5 Next Last
Kade Stallard uses drones to map and survey large properties in the US (Photograph supplied)
Kade Stallard travels the US surveying and mapping large properties (Photograph supplied)
Kade Stallard travels the US surveying and mapping large properties (Photograph supplied)
Kade Stallard travels the US surveying and mapping large properties (Photograph supplied)
Kade Stallard travels the US surveying and mapping large properties (Photograph supplied)

In what seems like another lifetime, Kade Stallard spent his days crisscrossing the US producing music videos and taking pictures of underground punk, rock and grunge bands.

When the pandemic hit, his career came to a halt.

“Everything just shut down,” said Mr Stallard, who was then living in Houston, Texas. “There were no venues, tours, or anything. Everyone lost their jobs.”

A friend told him about a position opening up at Landscapes Unlimited, a company that uses drones to survey and map large properties, across America.

The 28-year-old “jumped ship and moved to Augusta, Georgia within a week”. He was very familiar with drones thanks to his father, the photographer Scott Stallard.

“He got me my first drone and got me set up learning the controlling of them and things like that. I was always interested in them because it offers such a new fresh way to take pictures and videos.”

He went to one ultra exclusive club in California, that he described as a lush oasis in the desert.

The constant travel that the job demands can get a little tiring, he admitted.

In the last ten months Mr Stallard has visited Colorado, California, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina and Alabama – multiple times.

“I am thinking of moving to Dallas because that would be more central. From Dallas, it is three hours to either coast.”

Back home in Bermuda for a few days last week, he spent most of the time catching up on sleep.

“A lot of the clubs I work with, whenever I bring up the fact that I am from Bermuda, they will say, ‘Oh, I know about Port Royal and places like that,’” he said. “They always have the highest regards for those properties. Bermuda definitely has its place in that industry for sure.”

What once took photographers weeks to do on foot can now be done in a couple of hours.

“A few weeks ago, I was in Texas and did six properties in four days,” Mr Stallard said. “Some were smaller and some were very large.”

It can take him two days to work a 7,000 acre property, depending on the terrain and weather conditions.

“It depends on the shape and elevation of the course,” he said. “It also depends on how much time you have. If you are flying in the winter you have fewer hours of sunshine, and it is very dependent on the perfect hours of sunlight. High noon, when there is much less shadow, is ideal.”

The drones fly at 25 to 30 knots, about 300ft above ground level. They take thousands of pictures and collect millions of data points, to create a model of a piece of property.

They are all expensive pieces of equipment. Mr Stallard relies on a large, fixed-wing drone; if something smaller is required he usually picks up a Phantom 4 or Autel Evo 2.

“The fixed wing has a styrofoam body so it can take some wear and tear. On some of the courses you can get very close to hanging branches. You try to keep an eye on it and make sure you are not getting to any dangerous points. And the drones have safety features where they start flashing when they get too close to something.

“They are worth more than my life,” he laughed. “You work out of fear and adrenalin.”

The challenging part is taking all the data and transforming it into the final product before it is sent off to designers, architects and any other construction industry-related fields.

“Lidar is becoming a big thing,” Mr Stallard said. “Lidar uses light to reflect back surfaces. It can go through trees. A lot of these courses have tree canopy and vegetation, particularly the undeveloped properties that they are planning to create something new with. That can be very hard to use regular drones for. You are taking pictures and that can distort the data with the shadows. Lidar shoots lasers back and forth to take measurements.”

As a millennial, he is happy to have found a career that he enjoys.

“I think that is something my entire generation is really struggling to do,” Mr Stallard said. “For a lot of people of my age, there is no real goal other than to keep food on the table, pay our rent and hope to retire one day. It is really hard to exist off of one form of income today – rent is doubling, everything is going up in price, I think it is a universal thing. I think everyone is having a hard time these days.”

Despite his relative good fortune, he misses Bermuda.

“You don’t know how great it is, until you go away and come back to it,” Mr Stallard said.

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published September 15, 2021 at 8:13 am (Updated September 16, 2021 at 3:27 pm)

Flying high for a living

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon