- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

RICHMOND, Ind. (AP) - Doug Philbeck saw an important piece of local history crumbling more and more each day, so he decided to show a new perspective of that history - from the air.

Philbeck, who works in the city’s information technology department, took his drone on March 31 to the former Reid Hospital campus along Chester Boulevard. Along with friend Jamie Miller, Philbeck recorded video as the drone soared over the hospital and grounds. He uploaded the video onto YouTube, an online video site, and shared it on social media.

“In my opinion, our community should be updated on the progress, or the lack thereof, in regards to a place where many of us have made a connection with in some way,” Philbeck said. “I can only imagine the thousands of hands that were held as a loved one passes, the broken bones that were mended or the miracle of watching your child come into this world.

“It’s not just an old, dilapidated building to many of us in the community. It’s a place where immense memories have been imprinted on us. I simply wanted to take the technology that was available to me and give viewers a glimpse of what has transpired over the years.”

His efforts drew a passionate reaction online, with comments about personal memories and outrage at the building’s continued demise.

“It’s how I thought the reaction would be,” he said. “People feel a personal connection with it. I know how they feel, because I feel the same way.”

The 10-minute video from Philbeck’s 500-millimeter quadcopter, which he said can travel at 55 mph, shows broken windows, graffiti, puddles, debris and even people walking on the roof. The drone’s smooth flight enters a broken window to show a room and soars high above the grounds to a height where the new Reid Health facility is visible.

Philbeck said his visit to the old Reid grounds made it abundantly clear there are many safety issues on the site, from hidden pits where the HVAC system was housed to long drops through areas such as elevator shafts. He said he saw seven people exploring the building and stressed they were not vandals, merely the curious.

“I love my community and want to make a difference,” he said. “I have the technology to bring this to other people. It means so much more to a lot of people and has so many memories.”

Owning and flying a drone seems a natural fit for Philbeck, who said he developed an interest in flight from family members in the military, particularly a grandfather in the Air Force.

“It’s kind of in my blood. I’ve always been interested in it,” he said. “I’m in technology, so it goes hand in hand with what drones can do.”

Philbeck has not limited his drone and his skills to just the Reid video. He said he will head out on his lunch break and shoot videos the city can benefit from, too. The City of Richmond, Indiana Facebook page showcases his work at Veterans Memorial Park, the renovated Starr-Gennett area of the Gorge Park, Middlefork Reservoir, Glenn Miller Park and downtown Richmond.

“It’s just a hobby. It’s really fun and really cool,” he said. “There are so many beautiful things out there and you can’t appreciate them all while walking or biking and you can’t afford a helicopter. The technology and what it can do is amazing.”

Philbeck said he would like to promote drone technology and its uses. As government attempts to get a handle on drone regulations that make sense, he sees benefits for public safety, citing a case he heard from the 2015 Digital Government Summit where a hobbyist found a missing child in 20 minutes after a ground-level search in a cornfield had dragged on for hours.

“I would like to also raise awareness to the fact that drone technology has many more pros than cons,” he said. “Think about how these machines can and have helped people.”

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Source: (Richmond) Palladium-Item

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Information from: Palladium-Item, https://www.pal-item.com

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