The Making of an Aerial Memory

Originally published at Drone Book
By K. Daniel Glover

When you’re fighting cancer, it helps to know your friends are there for you. Leo Zambori has a whole host of them who showed their support in a creative way. They retained a volunteer drone pilot.

More than two years later, Zambori still cherishes the memory, according to his mother. “The photo was an amazing pick-me-up for Leo,” Natalie Zambori said after drone pilot Jeremy Lewis re-posted the image on Facebook in January for Leo’s birthday. “He loved and still loves to look at this photo. I remember him saying ‘Wow, all those people did that for me?’”

Lewis, the owner of Flying Dreams Aerial Imaging Services in Martins Ferry, Ohio, captured the memory for the Zamboris not long after he started flying unmanned aircraft systems. He gained early experience on the grounds of Martins Ferry City Schools and put together a video.

When Leo Zambori was diagnosed with leukemia at age 5, school officials and students wanted to let him know he wasn’t alone in the fight. Middle school principal Mike Delatore remembered Lewis’ drone work and reached out to him with an idea – an aerial photo of the student body spelling out Zambori’s name on the football field.

Lewis did the shoot solo, and it took about 20 minutes. “They all assembled on the field in the middle of the track that morning and spelled out Leo’s name along with a heart,” he recalled. “That pretty much says it all. They all came together as one to support this little boy and his family. I was blessed to be allowed to be a part of it.”

Zambori is now in second grade. He loves sports in general and baseball in particular, and he’s a loyal fan of all Pittsburgh sports teams. He has four months left in his three-year, five-month chemotherapy protocol.

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An Aerial Farewell Fit for a President

Clockwise from top left: George H.W. Bush as a naval aviator; Bush’s presidential portrait; son George W. Bush and family board for “Special Air Mission 41”; and the plane on the tarmac before the funeral flights began (Photos: George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, White House, U.S. Air Force)

Originally published on the FAA’s internal website and at Medium
By K. Daniel Glover

As America reflected on the life and legacy of former President George H.W. Bush in December, the FAA worked quickly behind the scenes to keep the funeral procession going — from the Houston area to the nation’s capital and back.

Bush, who served as president from 1989 to 1993, died Nov. 30 at age 94. The events in his honor began Dec. 3 with a flight to the Washington, D.C., area for services at the U.S. Capitol and Washington National Cathedral. Then his body was flown back to Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base near Houston, where it was taken by Locomotive 4141 to the grounds of his presidential library for burial.

The aviation aspects of Bush’s funeral included: “Special Air Mission 41” between Texas and Joint Base Andrews in Maryland; a flyover of the presidential library by the plane carrying Bush’s body; and a 21-aircraft tribute at the library as part of the burial ceremony. The FAA coordinated all of those activities with the Air Force and the Navy.

George H.W. Bush’s body arrives at Andrews Air Force Base. (Photo: U.S. Air Force/Andrew Lee)

Ryan Keenley, manager of the FAA’s National Capital Region Coordination Center, served as a liaison between the agency and the military. He started making the necessary connections the Friday Bush died and worked through the weekend.

The last presidential funeral was in 2006 for Gerald Ford, but the NCRCC regularly manages national special security events in the D.C. area. Evangelist Billy Graham’s funeral last year is a recent example.

“We’ve kind of got it down,” Keenley said. “We know what we have to do in terms of airspace restrictions, and then we accommodate the extras.”

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