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Employee blog: Reaching greater heights


When Jason Rouse was a kid, he always dreamed of flying. Find out how he’s combined that dream with his American Family Communications career thanks to a new FAA ruling and a drone.

Ever since I was a little kid, I have wanted to fly.

I seriously considered being a pilot growing up. During high school, I had the opportunity to take an aerospace class where we actually flew in a small aircraft. Pretty quickly, I realized being in a plane made me motion sick. With that in mind, I figured this line of work was probably not a wise career choice, and I never thought I would do anything with it going forward.

During college, I found my passion for video and photography and have not turned back. After college, I worked at a local TV station before being hired to work in the Media Center of American Family. Never did I think I would be able to combine my passion for video with flying.

Fast forward to December of 2013 when I saw an ad for a drone that could carry a small video camera. Wow, what a great combination of technologies! This held the potential of uniting my two passions in one.

The only issue – which turned out to be a big one – was that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was not allowing anyone to fly drones for commercial purposes. Bummer!

Fast forward again to summer of 2016 when the FAA announced that in the next couple of months, it would allow some commercial drone operations if you passed their test to obtain a remote pilot certificate with a small unmanned aerial systems rating. Very exciting!

There sure was a lot to learn to pass the FAA test and get my commercial drone license. That included learning to read aviation sectional charts along with various weather reports. I studied on and off for about four months and, thankfully, passed my test on the first try.

After passing, I was fine to fly in the FAA’s eyes, but I still had to go through AmFam training. I worked with Taylor Horsager in Flight Operations and did the three-day, in-person training. Thankfully I passed and, as it turns out, I was the first employee (besides Taylor) to pass the AmFam test and be certified to fly for commercial purposes here at AmFam. My boss was impressed and saw the need for that type of footage so he allowed our department to purchase a new drone.

I immediately started to incorporate drone shots into different videos and projects I was working on including the AmFam Championship golf event, All American Convention award videos, the Habitat for Humanity panel build, the solar panel installation and more. Using a drone to shoot photos or video gives you a perspective that is otherwise very difficult or expensive to get.

Choose image at left to see footage I’ve shot with a drone for various American Family projects.

I only see drone use increasing as time goes on. They give a great view and raise the production value of the final product.

Even though flying drones leaves my feet on the ground, it is still a fulfillment of my desire to fly and a wonderful combination of two of my passions.

Photo captions: Jason has used a drone to take aerial photos of American Family buildings, the AmFam Championship Golf Tournament, our solar panels and more.