Drones have been all over the news recently and the introduction of this technology to the commercial sector has brought about all sorts of  legal and ethical considerations. If you’re looking to avoid some potential legal minefields and still get some amazing shots from the sky, you may want to consider an older technology.

Chen Yu-Chi

©Chen Yu-Chi



The best way to get cheap air shot before the age of unmanned drones, short of renting a helicopter, was to use an Aerostat. Much like the way the Zeppelin was the precursor to the aviation age, the Aerostat was used before drone technology to get those tricky low altitude shots. These devices allow a photographer to get a camera into the sky quickly and cheaply, while avoiding all the legal red tape that has become associated with drones.


©Jennifer Krauel



©Chen Yu-Chi


One of the best known manufacturers of this tech is the UK company called Helikite. They created and patented a hybrid blimp/kite design that allowed for very simple, cheap and effective ariel shots. The technology isn’t just used for photography, it also has applications in tactical military situations, surveillance, and communications. The unique design of Helikites in particular, allows for a device to be mounted to a solid frame as opposed to dangling from a blimp. The kite also allows for a more aerodynamic structure in high wind situations.



©Phil Gyford