Photography Questions

Does SkyPix use radio-controlled aircraft (a.k.a. UAVs, USVs, quadcopters, "drones")?

NO – absolutely not.

SkyPix St. Louis provides aerial photography & videography services using a full-size helicopter (with pilot).

While helicopter aerial photography is more expensive than using a radio-controlled aircraft, it offers photographers greater flexibility – and MUCH better photos.

What are the benefits of helicopter aerial photography vs. radio-controlled UAVs / "drones"?

Compared to an unmanned aerial vehicle, a real helicopter offers several key advantages for taking aerial photos & videos.

For one, helicopters can fly MUCH faster (100+ MPH) in order to arrive on site more quickly. Plus aircraft safety regulations permit helicopters to fly at a MUCH higher altitude, allowing our photographers can capture your whole property from the best possible angle. UAV operators, on the other hand, are limited to a maximum of a few hundred feet in the air — which often produces less-than-desirable aerial shots.

Also, be aware of new pending regulations that may restrict aerial photography from UAVs. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is currently working to revise regulations concerning unmanned aerial vehicles in the interest of aircraft safety. Failure to follow strict government regulations about UAV photography could result in fines or other legal proceedings. You can avoid these risks by using a real helicopter, flown by an experienced professional pilot.

What kind of camera equipment does SkyPix use?

SkyPix uses professional digital SLR cameras, including the Canon 5D Mark III and Canon EOS 7D, combined with an assortment of high-end optical zoom lenses. Our camera equipment is capable of producing amazing aerial photos at up to 22+ megapixels. At such high resolution, SkyPix aerial photos are ideal for enlarged / oversized printing.

To provide the highest quality images, SkyPix may also employ a Kenyon Labs gyroscopic stabilizer. This professional device dampens the helicopter vibration to produce crisp aerial photos and videos.

Who are your photographers?

SkyPix works with several St. Louis-based professional photographers who specialize in aerial photos (including air-to-air shots of planes and helicopters in flight). Our photographers have tremendous experience shooting and filming from the air.

Can I bring my own photographer?

SkyPix St. Louis recommends using our experienced professional aerial photographer & videographer partners. However, we also welcome you to take pictures yourself or bring your own professional photographer. We also provide helicopter services for pro photographers working on assignment.

How do I get professional photo prints of my aerial photography images?

SkyPix St. Louis specializes in helicopter aerial & videography services. Custom aerial photo shoots always include digital pictures provided on CD or DVD. This provides SkyPix clients the flexibility to choose their own printer or print the photos themselves. As a result, photo prints are not typically included in the cost of an aerial photo flight.

Where desired, we can also provide professional photo prints (including oversized printing). Please let us know if you are interested in learning more about purchasing prints from SkyPix.

How should I prepare my property for aerial photography?

At altitude, our aerial photography captures the entire appearance of your property, so it’s important to prepare your location for aerial photos. Roof damage or discoloration, pavement cracks, faded or missing paint and other imperfections which may not seem obvious from the ground can be visible from the air. Likewise, any cars parked in driveways/ parking lots (or on the street) will be captured in aerial photos. Same is true of open garage doors, pool equipment left outside, unkempt gardens or flower beds, bare patches in grass, etc.

If you have any flaws or property features you do not wish to appear in your aerial photos, SkyPix recommends attending to and repairing those issues before scheduling an aerial photo flight.

We also recommend mowing your lawn ahead of your scheduled photo flight. Grass that has been recently mowed produces a pleasing “striped” pattern which is typically visible from the air and remains visible in aerial pictures.

Helicopter & Aviation Questions

What kind of helicopter does SkyPix fly?

SkyPix St. Louis uses the Robinson model R44 helicopter, the most popular helicopter ever built. The R44 is one of the safest and most reliable helicopters ever produced. The R44 can handle up to 4 individuals: the pilot plus up to 3 passengers, depending on weight and fuel load. Maximum cruise speed is 113 knots (130 mph). Range is approximately 300 miles.

Read more about our aircraft

Who is your helicopter pilot?

Our Chief Pilot, Charlie Duchek, is also the owner of SkyPix St. Louis. A lifelong aviation enthusiast, Charlie has been flying helicopters for over 25 years. In that time, he has logged more than 6,100 hours of helicopter flight time in various aircraft, including nearly 1000 hours in the Robinson R44- the same make and model SkyPix uses for its aerial photo and video missions.

With hundreds of hours of aerial photography experience in his 6,000+ total hours of helicopter flight time, Charlie founded SkyPix St. Louis, LLC to serve the St. Louis aerial photo and video market.

Read Charlie’s full bio

What is the difference between airplane and helicopter aerial photography?

Generally speaking, aerial photos taken from a helicopter are higher resolution and offer more detail. Federal aviation regulations allow helicopters to fly at lower altitudes compared to airplanes. Helicopters are also capable of flying much slower- including hovering in a fixed position- to capture aerial photos. Additionally, the doors on the SkyPix helicopter are removable, allowing photographers to shoot images directly instead of through a window pane.

Please note: Low-altitude helicopter aerial photography will always produce photos at a diagonal (a.k.a. oblique) angle. SkyPix does not offer direct overhead aerial photography.

Can I (or my spouse/employee/photographer) ride along in the helicopter?

The SkyPix Robinson R44 helicopter can accommodate the pilot, photographer, and up to 1-2 other passengers, depending on fuel load required and the weights of the passengers. With prior approval, SkyPix clients have the option of “riding along” to suggest shots to the photographer and oversee the photo shoot.

Pricing & Payment Questions

How much does aerial photography cost?

The cost for a custom aerial photo flight depends, mainly, on the distance between your location and our home base near Wildwood, MO. Helicopter flight time is billed per hour, in 0.1 hour increments. Because of the time and effort involved in planning and pre-flighting the helicopter for flight, there is a minimum charge for one half-hour of flight time.

The cost also depends on whether you will you use our photographer, or choose to bring your own photographer (or take pictures yourself). If you wish to use another photographer, Helicopter/Pilot Services (only) are available at a rate of $395 per hour or fraction thereof.

Please note: Photo prints are not typically included in the cost of an aerial photo flight. Please see above for more information about obtaining prints of your aerial photos.

What payment methods does SkyPix accept?

SkyPix accepts payments by cash, approved personal or company check, or MasterCard or VISA. SkyPix does not accept American Express or Discover at this time.