The flying Scotscam!

Michael with his remote controller and Forfar Probus Club member Ian with the flying platform before the talk.
Michael with his remote controller and Forfar Probus Club member Ian with the flying platform before the talk.

Michael Smith from Kirriemuir addressed 45 members of Forfar Probus Club as guest speaker on Tuesday.

Michael had tried a career in Canada but returned to the ‘Wee Red Toon’ and four years ago as a 27-year-old took a gamble along with his father and started a novel business taking aerial pictures.

The core equipment is a German-made drone radio-controlled flying camera platform, a two-foot wide V-shaped 1.6kg helicopter with eight rotors powered by a 450g rechargeable battery.

Michael controls this from a neck-slung radio transmitter on the ground up to half a mile away, with a TV screen showing what the camera in the sky is aiming at, taking stills or video as he chooses.

The flying camera has a ceiling of 2000ft but under Civil Aviation licensing is restricted to 400ft.

Battery life also shortens flights to 15-20 minutes duration. Michael brought along beautiful examples of large pin-sharp prints he achieves using this cutting-edge technology, the glens of Angus, a panorama of Kirriemuir and close-ups of Craigievar and Glamis Castle.

Before this, such pictures could only be taken by a camera mounted in a fixed-wing aeroplane or helicopter, costing up to £1000 an hour, and often cancelled in adverse weather.

Now, anyone wishing an aerial picture of their own house or garden or favourite mountain scenery from a previously inaccessible viewpoint can engage Michael at a reasonable cost.

He has also earned commissions photographing inaccessible buildings, roofs and parapets for local planning authorities, owners of stately homes, National Trust and Historic Scotland, using computer software to produce accurate 3D views and architectural plans.

After a dramatic demonstration flight close to the ceiling across the Forfar hall of the Royal British Legion, Ian Whitton proposed the vote of thanks for a talk which had prompted considerable interest and many more questions than normal from members.