High Hopes at Low Altitudes

Rollins grad sees big business in small remote-controlled aerial cameras.

(Aerial footage provided by FlyBy Aerial Productions)
Tom Hirschmann ’07 ’11MBA learned his love of flying from his grandfather and father who operated a flying service for decades.

Although Hirschmann has set his sights on a slightly lower swath of airspace—below 400 feet—his hopes for success are just as high with his remote-controlled flying cameras.

Combining an undergraduate degree in studio art from Rollins with a sharp business sense gained from his MBA from the Crummer Graduate School of Business, he found a way to fuse his love of photography and his entrepreneurial acumen with FlyBy Aerial Productions—the Winter Park operation run by Hirschmann and his wife, Lindsay Freese Hirschmann ’08.

Initially, he was toying around with aerial photography strictly for the artistic effects. “I just wanted to get a camera in the air,” he says. But after putting some videos online, he was surprised by the interest in his method, which is accomplished by mounting cameras on small, propeller-driven, remote-controlled devices. (Essentially, they are tiny helicopters, somewhat larger than hobby planes.)

That led to a job offer to fly one of the minicopters through a large factory warehouse to produce a promotional video. Since 2012, the couple has done work for many clients, including golf courses, manufacturers, realtors, and hotels.

Today, Hirschmann describes FlyBy this way: “We can do anything a ground crew can do, anything a helicopter can do, and everything in between. And we do it faster and cheaper.”