The sky’s the limit for the founder of a new Lakeland aerial photography business, Simon Handley, who has been busy filming the Lake District from a birds-eye perspective, writes Sandy Kitching.

There has been much in the news recently about people getting into trouble for flying drones in airspace they shouldn’t be in.


From his base at Old Hutton, near Kendal, Simon is an expert when it comes to taking stunning videos and photos over the Lake District using the latest drone technology. Earlier this year, he turned his passion for flying Small Unmanned Aircraft (drones), into a full-time business, Skylark Aerial Photography.

“I left a well-paid job in engineering, which took me all over the world, to make a home for my family at Old Hutton,” said Simon. “I knew I couldn’t be happy in a desk job so I decided to combine my love of flying and photography and started researching building my own drones.”

Simon has been a fixed wing pilot for the last 22 years, currently flying out of Carlisle airport, so he understands better than most, the safety issues of operating a drone in the sky. He has been building and piloting drones for over 10 years and has developed a winning formula for getting remarkably steady, clear footage from a birds-eye perspective.

“Safety is paramount and before any filming, I will do a detailed risk assessment survey of the area and talk to the client about what they want me to achieve,” Simon explained. I have Permission for Aerial Work (PFAW) approval from the Civil Aviation Authority and I hold an aircraft radio operators licence, which allows communication with Air Traffic Control whilst flying the drones near or at airports.”

As a pilot, he is used to viewing the magnificent Lake District scenery from above, so it seemed the obvious innovative career development to put his piloting skills to use with a remote controlled drone, equipped with the latest technology.

“I currently have two Small Unmanned Aircraft, which lock on to satellites for their positioning,” said Simon. “The cameras have exceptional high definition and are the same as used by the BBC for moving film footage.”

In May Simon created films and stills for Cartmel’s Black Horses Friesian Stud, which includes footage of a herd of horses galloping across fields and a beach ride at Bardsea.

“To date, commissions have included creating aerial films and stills of the Lake District and attractions like Brougham Castle and Windermere Lake Cruises,” said Simon. “But with the horses it was the first time I had to deal with subjects that you cannot predict which way they may suddenly turn!”

It can take a long time to create a few seconds of film of a steam train chugging along the tracks. “For a Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway shoot I had to be in place and ready for the first train coming, then wait an hour for the next timetabled train to come by to get a different angle,” Simon explained. “In total, it took me four hours waiting around to get the shots I wanted for a 30 second film!”

Skylark Aerial Photography, has literally taken off to a flying start and Simon is getting more and more requests for aerial photographs and videos from Cumbrian tourist attractions and businesses. He is also travelling further afield to film in Lancashire, Yorkshire and the Scottish Borders.

“I can provide aerial pictures, video and imaging for all types of events and occasions, business or leisure,” said Simon. “And estate agents have been using me to do aerial inspections and surveys for selling houses, business premises and land.”

Simon has provided aerial photography for Eden Valley District Council Tourism, Carlisle Airport, Bendrigg Trust, Davis & Bowring Estate Agents, Lakeland Trails and the North of England Civic Trust.

Skylark Aerial Photography has rapidly gained a large following on Facebook and more information can be found at: