- Associated Press - Sunday, December 6, 2015

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (AP) - At his computer, Charles Townsend googled “How to make money doing videography,” and as he scrolled through the results, he found a Doritos competition: Make a 30-second commercial for a chance to win a $1 million and a Super Bowl trip.

So the Chesapeake resident grabbed his son, brother-in-law, a tennis racket and one of his drones and headed to the woods. There they filmed a post-apocalyptic-like scene where the flying machine chases a man in pursuit of his cheesy tortilla chips.

“We wanted to make it seem like technology takes over the world like ‘Terminator,’” Townsend said.

Plot twist: It’s the boy who wants those nacho delights and the mastermind behind the theft enjoys that satisfying crunch as the video ends.

But while the son engineers the perfect heist, it’s really the father who’s been putting in time with drones. A Navy contractor, Townsend started Aloftpro Media earlier this year with his brother-in-law Brian Kunz, who manages an auto garage in Chesapeake. The two specialize in video and photography - plus they can add that unique angle from an unmanned aircraft.

If Aloftpro Media wins, the company wouldn’t be the first from Hampton Roads to be featured in the Super Bowl.

Townsend and Kunz have six drones in all. They used the DJI EVO S800, which is about $2,500, in the contest. For the video, they altered the machine taking off its photo equipment and adding a claw and lights. Modification is part of their business pitch.

“We’re like the A-Team making what we need to get the job done,” Townsend said.

Their arsenal also holds a quadcopter, Turbo Ace-Matrix (which takes stable pictures in up to 50 mph winds), 3D Robotics Iris and a splash drone (it can land in water). It’s not been easy getting the aerial photography business off the ground, though, with the Federal Aviation Administration still reviewing and drafting laws for commercial use of the flying machines.

“With the drone regulations, we haven’t been able to put a lot of gas in that tank,” Townsend said. “But we practice daily. We fly daily. We’ve made (Aloftpro) into an umbrella operation that includes drones.”

Doritos opens the voting Jan. 5 for 50 semi-finalists from the highest rated submissions and then the pool drops to three. The finalists will go to the Super Bowl and one will take home the big money prize.

Townsend hopes their entry will help bring more awareness to Aloftpro. The final goal is for the two partners to move into doing this full time.

“We’re pushing to get into the commercial video market and drones are just one of the tools to get that stuff done,” Townsend said.

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Information from: The Virginian-Pilot, https://pilotonline.com

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