Ashley Shelley is Airborne Vision’s main drone pilot and photographer and draws on a wealth of flying experience from his RAF career. He is the creative inspiration for the team, having completed a diploma in visual communication (photography/design/media) in Gloucester. After this, he spent 12 years in the RAF as a photographer at various stations throughout the UK and abroad. The scope of his photographic experience was wide, from the ‘desk’ photography of Senior Officers; recording the smallest hairline crack in an aircraft engine housing or photographing social events and visiting dignitaries, to getting evidence on accidents and injuries. He was able to take advantage of opportunities to fly in various types of aircraft – starting his interest in aerial photography.
RAF aerial photography experience
Westland Sea King helicopter: various air to air and air to ground photography between 2000 & 2011, including; photographing sea rescue drills with RNLI, ground survey photography, flying with a rescue sortie to South Wales from Devon, searching for a surfer who was taken out by the currents, photographing air shots of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations over Newquay, images supporting news releases in both regional and national press for the RAF. Air to air images of RAF & Navy rescue Sea Kings around the Cornish coastline – video was also produced for night time operations using night vision cameras to show the crew at work.
BAe Hawk T1: promotional images of specially painted display Hawk, for media use and promotional giveaways at air shows. This work needed precise communication and instruction to set up each aircraft while in flight.
Lockheed Hercules: air to air photos of a Hercules following in formation.
BAe Nimrod: high altitude photos of exterior and crew on transit to the Middle East.
Post-RAF aerial photography and more
Following his departure from the RAF, Ashley worked for a mapping company, which entailed working abroad in the USA, Hawaii, India and Oman, adding further expertise to his aerial capabilities.
Bell 407: ground survey images for future and existing power line towers in Oregon and Utah, USA.
Robinson R22 & R44: low-level oblique survey photography of power line towers across large parts of the USA including; New York, Long Island, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio. Some of these projects totalled up to 3,000 miles of power lines across four states, so good navigation, communication and concentration were vital to make each flight safe and efficient. Video was also produced for the same survey work. Identical work was also done in the UK with photography across large parts of the country following powerlines from London to Wales, north to Manchester, Yorkshire, Northumberland, down to Hull then returning to London, with additional survey images taken down to the south coast near Lydd.
Eurocopter Squirrel/A-star: air to ground photography of powerline support towers in the UK, primarily around and over London.
Ashley has also undertaken filming of the ancient Falaj’s in Oman, for historical recording purposes (Falaj is a man-made watercourse, channelling water from the mountains to the villages in a controlled manner, to provide a water supply as well as for the cultivation of crops.)
Meet John Shelley