Electric Airshows' Chris Crockford (left) with new recruit - lighting designer John Bishop - and the new 'out of the box' drone solution on show at PLASA Focus Leeds
UK - Electric Airshows, the only drone show company currently in PLASA’s membership, revealed two major advances at the popular PLASA Focus Leeds trade show in early May.
First up, the specialist provider of drone light shows gave the production industry its first glimpse of a brand-new, ‘out of the box’ solution that signals the future of fast drone show implementation for entertainment. At the same time, the company introduced another major step forward with the addition of award-winning lighting designer (and trained drone pilot!) John Bishop, to its growing team.
The ingenious new flightcase system offers rapid deployment for drone light shows. With 12 drones ready to fly out of - and back into! - each protective case, the system promises to significantly speed-up the laborious process of prepping and laying out a swarm of drones for an aerial display. Importantly, the system drastically reduces the time and manpower required on-site, making the inclusion of drone light shows in events a far more viable option.
Chris Crockford explains: “This is such an important step because providing drone light shows is far from straightforward. Each individual drone in a swarm is, after all, an aircraft, and its flight has to be planned, monitored and logged accordingly to meet the stringent regulations set by the CAA. With so much inherent complexity behind the scenes, this new innovation will make a huge difference to actual on-site activity, and help to make the inclusion of drone shows a much easier option for production companies creating all kinds of outdoor events.”
The system uses a new generation of quad-copter drones with accurate GPS RTK (Real Time Kinematics) positioning technology for formation flying. When landing, on-board cameras read individual fiducial ID tags which give simple and accurate 6D (x, y, z, roll, pitch, yaw) information to guarantee each unit’s precise return to its spot in the case. LED lights mounted top and bottom of each drone allow for low-level ‘marker’ lights to be visible during take-off and landing - meeting another significant safety requirement of the CAA. What’s more, the inclusion of the latest battery technology reduces weight and extends the flying time of each unit, while the addition of lightweight rostor guards offers added protection.
Meanwhile, expanding the team’s human capabilities is lighting designer John Bishop, who joined company founder Chris Crockford on the stand at PLASA Focus. A member of the Association of Lighting Designers, the Society of British Theatre Designers and Equity, Bishop has designed for over 200 productions including operas, ballets, musicals and plays. His 27-year career in lighting began with Vari*Lite, touring Europe with the likes of Eric Clapton, Tina Turner and Toto - and now continues with his qualification as a drone pilot.
Bishop says: “I’m relishing the opportunity to take my design work into the skies with Electric Airshows. This team has an unrivalled level of technical knowledge and understanding of aviation, and it’s tied in with years of production experience and visual design capabilities. This is an exciting new arena of entertainment, and I believe this company is a force to be reckoned with!”
Formed by two well-known event production industry figures, Chris Crockford and Ian Lomas, Electric Airshows combines years of experience in entertainment production, high technology and aviation to offer an extra new visual dimension to outdoor shows of all types and sizes.

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