River City Six – Tom vonAhlefeld
Meet Tom vonAhlefeld, co-owner of Mirage Aerial Imaging (mirageaerial.com).
Tell us a little about your business.
My wife Sara and I own and run the business together to provide a multitude of aerial imaging services, from thermal imaging for commercial low slope roof inspection to high resolution photos and videos for advertising, construction progression, insurance claims, and real estate. We also provide 360-degree virtual tours for commercial businesses as well as real estate. We pride ourselves on providing individualized services to each of our clients.
How did you get started in the business?
While on my last tour of duty with the Air Force, I also worked as a professional photographer with a focus on college sports and professional rodeo in the Pacific Northwest. I transitioned into aerial photography in 2012 and was one of the first to obtain an FAA 333 Exemption to legally fly remote aircraft for commercial use in Cincinnati. I maintain my certification to fly drones legally for commercial use by maintaining my part 107 certification through the FAA.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally?
Getting the business started, making meaningful business connections and educating the community on the benefits of drone technology. We also had trouble deciding which areas of drone technology to focus on here in Omaha. Drones are incredible tools and can be used in so many ways, but the hardware and software can be quite expensive and deciding what the community will most benefit from and want was very difficult. We had many conversations with people, who were interested in the technology but as a small business we had to choose the most cost effective option for ourselves until drone technology became more widely accepted in the community.
What is your favorite thing to do on a day off?
Relax with Sara, the kids, and the dogs.
What is the most unique or interesting thing about you that most people probably don’t know?
I flew as a commercial pilot in rural Alaska.
Who inspires you?
Everyday people who step outside their comfort zone and succeed when they didn’t think they could.
Which talent would you most like to have?
Play the piano.
What local nonprofit organization(s) are you passionate about or involved with, and are there any special reasons why?
As a family, we are active in the community through our church. Earlier this year, we connected with Habitat for Humanity Omaha and planned to provide aerial imaging of a couple community builds they had scheduled for this year. Unfortunately, COVID-19 struck and the plans changed so we followed the builds that occurred due to the volunteer efforts of local construction companies over the span of a few months. The effect wasn’t what we had planned, but they still had a different view of their work which was the goal. We hope to work with them again when the community can work together again. These photos can be seen on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages.
What is your favorite movie?
What is your favorite TV show?
It’s not my favorite show, but my go-to show when I’m bored and can’t find anything else to do is Forged in Fire.
What is your favorite local restaurant?
Taste of Thailand. My wife and I avidly follow the “Omaha ~ #Keep Local Alive” Facebook group and try new local restaurants to support other local businesses. We have not been disappointed.