By Kelly Baughman
Once upon a time, drones seemed like a concept for the future, a technology that was only once reserved for government operations and wealthy hobbyist. That’s all changing here on the Gulf Coast thanks to Chantry Holdman’s Kwad Dojo Drone Services.
Holdman, who said he was raised in the video game era where eye/hand coordination and understanding how all things computerized work from the inside out, grew up in the panhandle of Oklahoma. Having worked in oil fields, served as a marine, worked as a screen printer and graphic artist, and more, Holdman’s creativity and love of flight (he always wanted to be a pilot, but unfortunately wasn’t blessed with the eyesight) led him to work with helicopters in the military.
While in the Marines, Holdman experienced three deployments and served in over 30 countries, as well as in Task Force 151, a counter-piracy task force agency that was involved in the rescue of the U.S. containership Maersk Alabama (portrayed in the movie ‘Captain Phillips’) that was taken hostage by Somali pirates in 2009.
After his run in the military, a trip to the Gulf Coast led Holdman to eventually call Pensacola home. His love of flight still strong, Holdman decided to take up drone racing as a hobby.
From there, Holdman started Pensacola FPV Racers, a drone racing club using first person point of view where drone pilots strive to build extremely fast and agile multi-rotor drones to fly around a set course as fast as possible. Some pilots fly using FPV monitors, where others use specialized FPV goggles to give them a more immersive experience.
Armed with years of drone experience, Holdman decided to take his talent from a hobby to a business he called Kwad Dojo, offering a wide array of services including aerial photography, ground photography, video production, construction site monitoring, site 3D modeling, part 107 test prep, flight training, race training, CNC machining, 3D printing, repair services, and much more.
Holdman’s Kwad Dojo was heavily involved in Hurricane Michael aftermath recon and recovery efforts, mapping Mexico Beach. With a team of twelve armed with drone technology that could reach areas too devastated for vehicles to reach, under Florida State University’s search and rescue operation. “Manned airplanes flew over the area and they were able to cover large chunks of land, but our high resolution cameras mapped the whole area without washed out photos to be able to create 3-D models of the damage,” he said.
The imagery and information about the effects of Hurricane Michael that Kwad Dojo was able to record of the coastline changes and current patterns after the storm will be studied by environmentalists, meteorologists, scientists, and local officials for years to come.
Kwad Dojo has revolutionized the industry with projects like agricultural drones that are able to scan, map, and record farmland problem areas, then return to that area carrying a solution like an appropriate fertilizer or pesticide, that can be strategically placed so that less area is effected and less time and manpower is spent pinpointing problem sites.
“We’ve done some really innovative things like equipping drones with weed sprayers so that we can spray the side of a high rise with vegetation growing on it instead of the company having to spend the money and the liability of having someone physically hang on the side of the building to reach it,” Holdman said.
Holdman said that developing new ways to use drones is what his platform for the company is all about. “The more innovation we put into our drones, the more services we can offer. Currently, Kwad Dojo is highly involved in home inspections, county building inspections, real estate photography, and television production and videography for the Beachbilly Lifestyle television show with Josh Brown.
“I knew Chantry from Big Rhino Screen Printing, and I knew how talented he was. My show was missing the cinematic types of shots that I knew he could bring to the table, so I asked him to team up with me. Since then, the show has really blossomed thanks to his equipment and his ability to get the dramatic shots on the first try which is so important,” Brown said of Holdman.
Holdman hopes that he will soon be able to transition into ROV’s which will expand his company to include in water boat hull inspections, mapping operations of fishing holes, wreckage recovery, and more.
For more information on Kwad Dojo and the services Holdman provides, visit www.kwaddojo.com.