CRPAA is a U.S. based non-profit (501(C)(6)) founded by independent videographer and certified remote pilot Eric Pensenstadler to represent those for whom drone flying isn’t just a hobby. Requiring FAA certification for membership, CRPAA brings together the top tier of drone pilots—videographers, surveyors, photographers, and others—who want to maintain high standards of expertise and safety, grow their businesses, stay current with trends, and share ideas with like-minded professionals.
WE HELP professional drone pilots grow and operate their business safely and legally.
OUR MISSION is to be a national association which will establish credibility and business growth of its members and promotes the safe and legal use of drones in our national airspace.
CRPAA will provide valuable content and trainings for its members, educate consumers, and, market the importance of employing professional certified remote pilots.
OUR VISION is to be the leading resource for certified remote pilots to continually learn, share their experiences, and grow their business.
CRPAA will become an industry leader by educating the general public and industries on the rules, risks, and benefits of using drones, then connect our members with these consumers.
OUR PROMISE: CRPAA vets all members, ensuring that they are certified remote pilots meeting the federal aviation requirements for small Unmanned Aerial Systems.
Eric Pensenstadler, the owner of Video Horizons, LLC, started his career as a videographer for national and international touring artists such as David Copperfield, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Brooks and Dunn, and Juanes. He worked and performed in over 30 countries, on 4 different continents, and in all 50 U.S. States. After returning home from his whirlwind adventures in 2002, Pensenstadler took root and established his Pittsburgh-based video production company, Video Horizons.
Pensenstadler grew up racing radio-controlled cars and flying radio-controlled planes and helicopters, so when aerial camera drones came on the market, they were the perfect complement to his video business. However, after receiving his certification for sUAS, Pensenstadler discovered that there were no remote-pilot-specific associations for pilots to join or become affiliated with.
Knowing that a trade association would lend him and his fellow remote pilot’s additional credibility with clients, Pensenstadler reached out to other industry leaders and formed the Certified Remote Pilots Association of America (CRPAA). The Association’s mission is to help certified remote pilots gain additional piloting skills and business know-how to better serve the American public.
In a recent interview, Pensenstadler said, “One of the biggest things I noticed was that manufacturers are making drones very easy to fly but they’re still hard to ‘control’ for most pilots. And strategically integrating [drones] into marketing videos, surveys, and mapping, search and rescue missions, inspections, etc. with proper precision is very difficult for most pilots, especially new pilots and new entrepreneurs. It’s kind of the ‘I got a drone, now what?’ syndrome. We’re going to change all that and help our members become the best pilots possible while helping them serve their ideal, target markets!”
Dave King has been building and flying copters since June 2011. In 2011 there were no ready-to-fly drones on the market so Dave hand built the very first drone that he ever flew. His first drone was a Cinestar 8 Octocopter on 4S Mikrokopter electronics. For the first 6 months of flying, he went all around Pittsburgh filming what he could so he could produce a demo reel of work to show clients. In mid-2012 he started taking aerial pictures for real estate agents and things took on a life of their own from there. To date, Dave has over 3000 flights under his belt.
In 2015 Dave got a Sports Pilots license and was trained to fly on a Cessna 162 Skycatcher so he could fly commercially under his 333 license.
In 2016 Dave started Steel City Drones as a full-time operation dedicated to client work through the production company division but also to train students on how to fly drones safely.
Laura DelFratte – Laura is a certified public accountant and licensed attorney. She is a tax manager at Schneider Downs, a public accounting firm in Pittsburgh. Laura has 10 years of experience in tax planning, tax compliance, and business valuation. Her legal practice focuses on succession planning for closely-held, family-owned businesses.
Dave Tomasic is born and raised in Western Pennsylvania, Dave attended Penn State University for his BS degree and completed additional study programs at several post-graduate institutions and trade schools. Dave began a career that spanned over 37 years as a public-school teacher. During that time interests in aviation and photography have led to development and exploitation of credentials in commercial aviation as pilot and flight instructor, sUAS remote pilot, skydiving, photography, photo-technologies, IP network administration, teacher coaching, and agriculture among other less technical interests. Currently, Dave continues his CFI responsibilities and is the principal partner and pilot for TOOL, LLC located in San Antonio, TX that provides a variety of UAS related services.
Dave’s current organizational affiliations include: CRPAA, AOPA, AMA, AACA-MVR, SDC.
Married with one child, two grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and several pets, Dave remains a resident of SW Pennsylvania. His hobbies include HAM radio, model aircraft/UAS construction, photography, and refurbishing select antique cars
Joseph H. Bucci – With more than 42 years in the construction, design, development and real estate industries, Joseph Bucci counsels his clients on numerous construction-related matters.
Joe represents contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, owners, developers, architects, engineers, sureties and property managers in matters including commercial, industrial, heavy and highway, healthcare, petrochemical, gas and oil exploration, pipelines, pumping stations, wind farms, landfills, treatment plants, federal government contracting, marine and public works construction/development projects.
What makes Joe particularly attuned to the construction and development industry is his hands-on experience prior to becoming a construction attorney. Joe was formerly a journeyman steamfitter who worked with the tools in the field. Joe also worked as an estimator, project engineer, construction manager, mechanical/electrical coordinator and a designer/builder for a major general construction company. These experiences in the construction industry gave him years of ground-up, practical construction experience that he shares with clients. He also served as in-house counsel to a large general construction company. Combined with his legal skills and dispute resolution abilities, Joe’s work history has proved to be invaluable to his legal career. He offers clients technical insight and the unique perspective of someone who has personally been in their shoes, as well as on the other side of trying to resolve the legal and/or operational issues associated with construction or real estate development matter.
Abbe Lyle – Abbe is Creative Director and pilot for Visual Law Group. Visual Law utilizes both terrestrial laser scanners and drone technology for use in forensic crime scene animation. She is a licensed private and remote pilot.
A professional photographer and creative writer for over 20 years, Abbe has instructed and presented to corporate groups, individuals and at conferences in the art of still, aerial and infrared photography. In addition to her workshops with industry leader Scott Strimple, Abbe has been featured in the film Drone Invasion, That Drone Show, Women and Drones, and The Drone Girl.
Abbe is an advocate for the safe use of drones as a form of creative expression and passionate about encouraging and mentoring women in the emerging UAS industry.
Stan Khlevner – Stan is the Founder & CEO of DroneVX, an aerial media (i.e. images, footage, 360 videos, panoramas, etc.) and remote pilot services marketplace. DroneVX was founded with the goal of providing a risk-free residual income source for remote pilots and aerial photo/videographers looking to promote the safe, FAA-compliant use of sUAS technology and art of aerial media. Stan is himself a certified remote pilot with 10+ years in both graphic and digital media design and management. Aside from flying his Phantom 4, he enjoys well-made movies & shows, electronic and rap music and teaching his daughter new things.
William Gaddy – Will is a media and network technology executive with 30 years of experience managing sales, networking, audio, image, and video signal processing research and development teams, in addition to developing mass-market software and electronics products. His specialties include hard problems like distributed/cloud GPU, vision systems, high dynamic range and multispectral imaging, and virtual reality optics, processing, and client software.
In addition to his work with GemVR and A2Zlogix, Will is on the Board of Directors and Board of Advisors for several other companies, was VP of Research at Clique Communications, Chief Systems Architect at LegatoVideo, Team Lead at IBM Software’s Web Content Management Group. He also held positions as a member of IBM TJ Watson Research’s Visualization and Geometric Computing Group. Will founded, and constructed successful exits for an ISV/publishing company and a technology licensing company, and attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Computer Engineering. Will’s other memberships include: IEEE, IEEE Communications Society, IEEE Computer Society, IEEE Broadcast Technology Society, IEEE Signal Processing Society, ACM, SIGGRAPH, SMPTE, SCTE, AOPA, and AMA. Will also holds a commercial UAV pilot license with a FAA nighttime flight waiver.
Christopher Newman is a professional remote-controlled aerial videographer/photographer. 12 years in film and cinematography helped as a foundation in his aerial career. He has been flying as a full-time Drone Pilot for 4 years with his company CineChopper. His passion and drive lead to amazing, dynamic, and cinematic shots.
Chris started CineChopper Drone University in 2014 to help support the rapidly growing drone industry and to promote drone safety and professionalism. CineChopper University consists of over 30 hours of online video content, over 1500 members and growing, and, is an amazing, supportive, family-like community.
A sampling of Chris’s clients include:
Alex Kavanagh moved from Sydney, Australia to Los Angeles in 2013 to pursue his dreams in the fast-growing drone industry. He previously project managed and built architecturally designed homes where he grew a love for photography and marketing the family business, which then led to a passion for drones.
After establishing Drone Gear, a media company, Alex pioneered the first ever drone-sharing community on Instagram, sharing drone users’ content from around the world as well as providing giveaways, tutorials, and product reviews.
When he’s not droning, Alex will be running, surfing or mountain biking somewhere around California or Sydney whilst having a drone glued to his back, just in case.
“As the saying goes, ‘No man is an island. Business people do not thrive when they are isolated from colleagues. Regular interaction leads to learning, personal growth, and career progression.” —Stephen L. Lamb, executive vice president of the Mechanical Contractors Association (MCA) of Chicago.
Many of us in the remote piloting field began as amateurs, fulfilling our enthusiasm for flight. We learned by doing, by experimenting, and by turning to others for advice and techniques until we matured into professionals. As professionals, though, we’re responsible for serving clients, building businesses, and continuing to grow in skill and expertise. On top of that, drone pilots must comply with rigorous certifications and evolving regulations.
By banding together in professional associations, like-minded professionals can share ideas and opinions, help one another, share opportunities, and amplify their voice to speak for their industry.
CRPAA feels that credibility and trustworthiness are essential for every practitioner in our field. We require all members to be FAA certified. In addition, guided by a clear Code of Conduct, our members know what’s considered best practice and what’s accepted in the industry. CRPAA members are recognized for their high standard of operation and character.