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Meet Louie Northern of Ascend Aerials in Midtown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Louie Northern.

Louie, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My professional career began in design. I graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelors degree in Landscape Architecture, and I practiced as an Urban Designer and Landscape Architect for ten years. I designed projects all over the world, with a specific focus on Resort Design, and in 2013, I encountered my first UAS/drone.

I had never seen anything like it, and I was immediately taken with the technology. I was also an avid photographer, and I also frequently made adventure videos (for fun), so buying my first drone didn’t take long to occur after my first encounter. Very shortly after that, I visited one of my Mexican resorts, and I brought it along.

During that visit, and in a last-minute change of plans, I ended up trading aerial footage of a neighboring resort for a week-long (free) extension of our trip. I negotiated a free stay for me and three other friends, and during that stay, I laid the groundwork for what would become Ascend Aerials with my best friend (and now) business partner… Scott and I built and sat around a fire on a beach, and we discussed what our life would look like if we could DESIGN it… What would your life look like if you could CHOOSE every aspect of it?… Every bit of it…

Together, we decided that we needed adventure and travel and creativity and autonomy and more adventure and all the things that are great for being fulfilled with our work, but we also decided that we needed meaningful relationships. and love. More than anything, we discussed the idea of CHOOSING what our lives will contain, and we committed ourselves to the notion of actually LIVING those plans… After all, planning anything is only of any real use to those who are capable of living those plans fully, and in that moment.

Upon my return to the United States, I decided that I would set myself into the direction we discussed. I did not have even the beginnings of the capital necessary to execute on our idea, but I did have the will. That, coupled with a healthy tolerance for risk, allowed me to develop a bold plan…

I would quit my job, and ask to be re-hired as a ‘consultant’ for TWICE what I was being compensated at the time of quitting… Seems reasonable right? Well, that is what I did, and it worked! Making a more substantial income allowed me to work less while dividing my focus between building a new brand from scratch, launching a start-up (Ascend Aerials), and attending flight school to be a pilot (so that I could satisfy the FAA’s requirement of needing an FAA licensed pilot for commercial operations).

I completed my flight training within ten weeks, and Ascend Aerials’ first project was the unveiling of the naming rights for the new Mercedes Benz Stadium for the Atlanta Falcons. From there, we were fortunate to win projects with companies like Google, CNN, and many other fortunes 500 companies until we ultimately transitioned into exclusively filming for Feature Films, Narratives, and Television. To date, Ascend Aerials has been in operation since 2014, we have hundreds of hours in flight/film experience, and I am proud to report that we are now LIVING the plan that we outlined on that Mexican beach. We are a leader in the industry, and we continue to expand our offering (for the purpose of even MORE adventure).

When I describe what we are building, I always say, we are designing a LIFESTYLE, not a career… I believe this has everything to do with our progress, and my feeling this attitude is contagious to our clients. Our motivation remains purpose driven, not profit driven, and our thinking is this philosophy has everything to do with our continued success. We are aware it could all end next week; if it does, I will be thankful for the ride, and I will probably just begin another one of life’s adventures.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Every day presents its own challenges, but we have made a point to become experts in creating solutions. Problem-solving is actually one of the more enjoyable exercises that we engage in because each issue, by virtue of it being a new one, is different from the one that superseded it. This construct delivers variety to our daily operation, and we crave the diversity (even if it seems stressful at the time).

Ascend Aerials – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Ascend Aerials is an Atlanta based, 333/FAA Approved, an aerial operator that delivers a comprehensive offering of cinematic services focusing on specialty camera movements with remotely operated heads. Specializing in the utilization of UAS [Unmanned Aircraft Systems] for capturing aerial content, Ascend Aerials is the leading aerial expert in the Southeast. We are fully FAA compliant and are a team exclusively made up of Local 600 members.

We capture breathtaking low-altitude imagery not possible any other way.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Ascend Aerials continues to be a wealth-spring of potentially proud moments for me and my team, but MY most proud moments have to do more with how my parents describe what I do (even if they don’t describe it 100% accurately all of the time).

Contact Info:

  • Website: www.AscendAerials.com
  • Email: contact@AscendAerials.com
  • Instagram: @AscendAerials
  • Twitter: Ascend Aerials

Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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