HOVERING high above the clouds, the latest craze in British technology is capturing the Lancashire as if it has never been seen before.
Flying drones are the cornerstone of former pilot Paul Wane’s AirXdrones photographic business, as he uses the miniature aircrafts to picture the county’s landmarks from the skies.
The best of his work is now on display at Knott End Library on Lancaster Road, and is set to debut at Fleetwood Library on North Albert Street on September 1.
Paul, who lives in Hambleton, said: “Because we have a three-dimensional view from above, it’s totally different from anything you see on the ground; it’s quite amazing.
“My idea was to show people their homes from the air. It gives them a new perspective of where they live and shows them how nice a place it is to live.
“We’ve had a lot of interesting comments so far, and the public seems to like it.”
It’s my belief that unmanned flight is the future
The history of drones, or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) can be traced back to 1849, when Austria sent unmanned hot air balloons filled with explosives to attack Venice.
Since then, the development of UAVs has had a distinctly military focus, from the pilotless aerial torpedoes of the First World War to the remote-controlled aircrafts used to train German air gunners in the Second World War.
Only in recent years has the drone branched out into more peaceful exploits - taking photographs, flying in disaster relief, and even exploring space.
Civilian drones now vastly outnumber military drones, with more than a million sold by 2015.
Paul, who first went into piloting drones three years ago, said: “Though they look small and light, a drone is an extremely stable platform to take pictures on.
“It has a high quality, 4K camera which is really good for taking pictures. It’s state of the art and there’s nothing better.”
While commercial drones like Paul’s require a special pilot certificate to fly, there is nothing stopping the average Joe from splashing out on one of the tiny aircrafts
Paul said: “There are rules against drones flying near airports and you need special permission to do it. If the drone senses you’re getting too close to an airport it will bring itself down.”
Other potential hazards for drone pilots aren’t so easy to regulate.
Paul said: “Birds don’t like drones. Seagulls really don’t like us.
“Once they start circling around the drone I bring it down straight away. You’ve got to watch out for them like a hawk!”
He added that he foresaw a bright future for the unmanned flying aircraft, which he believes one day could replace pilots on board the country’s largest commercial aeroplanes, from British Airways to easyJet.
He said: “With banks these days technology has taken over many of the jobs that were once done by people, but you still need a manager overseeing everything, and that’s what I can see happening in the flight business too.
“Most large aircrafts are automated fully already, from navigation to actually landing the plane.
If you have a bumpy landing chances are it’s because they’re training somebody.
“Apart from aviation drones, a lot of submarines are also being made as drones as well.
“It’s my belief that unmanned flight is the future.”