We’re still waiting for flying cars, but Entergy Arkansas has acquired the next-best thing: a drone.
Admittedly, among amateur hobbyists, drones these days are a dime a dozen. But this is no hum-drum drone. We’re talking four 17-inch propellers, 38 minutes of flying time, high-rez cameras for stills and video, built-in ability to keep itself from flying into trees and tall buildings, and a whole lot more.
And while the drone sports lots of on-board automation, it does require a pilot.
Meet Eric Treadwell. A photography and aviation enthusiast, Treadwell is an Entergy Arkansas Geographic Information System database analyst. This job has him earthbound in front of his computer most of the time. But he has higher aspirations. He’s the one person authorized to fly the Entergy Arkansas drone.
Treadwell was a US Army air traffic controller. With 20 years of GIS experience behind him, he joined Entergy in 2014.
On his own initiative, Treadwell recently completed the FAA certification process to fly drones for commercial purposes, meaning he’s now legal to fly for Entergy.
Talented photographers are not uncommon. FAA-certified drone pilots are more scarce, but they’re out there. But one person who’s both a skilled photographer and certified drone pilot? A rare bird, indeed.
“We’ve hired contract drone pilots several times in the past,” said Audie Foret, operations and safety manager. “This is something we thought we could do better and at a lower cost by bringing it in-house.”
Among the uses envisioned for the Entergy Arkansas drone:
“We’re the first Entergy operating company to invest in a drone, and we’re looking forward to demonstrating its capabilities,” added Foret. “Now that we own the equipment and we already have a pilot on the payroll, we can really explore the possibilities. The sky’s the limit!”
Communications Specialist II