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Whether you are an amateur photographer who wants to capture a friend surfing or a farmer monitoring crops, the tools to do so can now be found at a store on Route 17.
Xtreme AeroPix, a shop selling drones and drone accessories, celebrated its grand opening last month at 2643 B George Washington Memorial Highway in Tabb, and owner Tony Jones said his new store is drawing people with diverse interests.
“It is common for me to sit here and spend hour and a half, two hours or more with a customer that comes in,” he said, adding his is the only store he knows of in the area that sells and repairs drones.
Commonly thought of as “flying cameras,” or unmanned aerial vehicles, drones are battery-operated and allow the user to attach a camera to the lightweight, GPS-enabled aircraft that is roughly the size of a large briefcase.
Some of the models come with cameras already attached, and others allow you to attach your camera or smartphone to the device.
The drones are programmed by a controller, and the machine can fly from 15 to 45 minutes, depending on the life of the battery.
Jones said drones are used most frequently for taking aerial photography, usually for real estate and advertising. Other uses include surveying for engineering companies, crop monitoring, cell phone tower inspections, insurance damage assessments, windmill inspections and bridge inspections.
He keeps the latest products — including accessories and spare parts — stocked in his store and said he is constantly reevaluating his inventory based on the demands.
“We carry what people need to get started,” he said.
The drones listed on the Xtreme AeroPix website vary in cost from $500 to $5,400.
Jones, a retired U.S. Navy submarine officer who moved to York County from Chicago upon retirement, went into defense contracting for nine years before becoming interested in smaller commercial aircrafts, something he said is quickly becoming popular worldwide.
His store had a soft opening April 1, and local officials such as York County Board of Supervisors Chairman Tom Shepperd and Chamber of Commerce President Tim Meyer attended its grand opening May 9.
Jones said one of the challenges with operating a drone in Hampton Roads is the federal regulations that bar people from flying drones near military bases and airports. This map shows the areas where flying drones is prohibited.
Jones urges first-time drone to take advantage of free demonstrations, flying lessons and Saturday morning workshops offered at the Xtreme AeroPix store.
“It’s a fun technology, it’s a fun time, and it’s a great industry,” he said.
The store’s hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays.