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Aviation Alternatives hits ground running

Aviation Alternatives is a groundbreaking company starting up in South Boston.  

While the company really doesn’t break any ground, the company does sense the ground. Using a technology known as LIDAR, Aviation Alternatives uses airplanes with special equipment mounted to the bottom of the airplane that sends laser signals to the earth and captures the signals that bounce back. 

Using this technology, Aviation Alternatives is proving very useful in many Virginia Markets.  Using Aerial LIDAR that stand for Light Detecting and Ranging, Aviation Alternatives is now employing this technology to give valuable insight to the county, businesses and citizens of Halifax County and any other county that would like their map and data sets to rise into the 21st century.  

The company is owned by Robert Potts, owner of Potts Landing in South Boston, Chuck Gross, a seasoned LIDAR pilot, and Micah Nix, a leader in business startups.  

Owning their own airstrip and hangers in South Boston gives them an advantage to perform local and statewide contracts for mapping areas such as 100 acres up to mapping the entire State of Virginia and adjoining states.   

The specific advantages of having large areas of the county and state surveyed using Aerial LIDAR can be valuable to everyone, said Potts.  Using LIDAR county officials can gain access to a multitude of maps that are extremely precise. LIDAR mapping also can see through trees and eliminate them all together exposing the topography of the bare land underneath.  

“This helps in the planning of future home sites as well as large industrial sites when land uses and wetlands are a concern,” he added.  

Using Green LIDAR developed by Optec based in Canada, Aviation Alternatives can precisely scan the tops of lakes, streams and rivers. If that doesn’t sound special, the second part is sure to raise an eyebrow, according to Potts.  LIDAR can actually map the bottom of streams and rivers and many lakes. 

The technology of using LIDAR to see through water and have accurate results is something that could not be done just a few short years ago.  

Aerial LIDAR surveying is extremely useful to find out how much damage was caused by floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, fires and many other natural disasters and what ecological damage has been caused to the land and man-made stuctures.  

Compiling and utilizing this data can provide insight for county and state agencies in monitoring floodwater erosion, citizen property damage for insurance companies and fire damage to agricultural land and forests.  

Civil engineering also has a vast need for aerial LIDAR mapping of Virginia’s roadways and traffic corridors for the purpose of road changes and improvements, Potts said.  

“Aerial pictures alone simply cannot provide the high quality data that aerial LIDAR ensures.  If a road is covered in trees, aerial orthophotography can be quite useless in these situations for it will only take pictures of the tops of the trees. However, LIDAR can see right through the trees and give perfect evaluations of the roads beneath,” he added.  

This became completely clear when Chuck Gross from Aviation Alternatives worked as the LIDAR Pilot for UTI to locate the lost city in Honduras.  The city was buried under many hundreds of years of jungle, and the use of aerial LIDAR cut right through the trees, and the structures from the lost civilization underneath became visible, Potts said. 

The excitement of having Aviation Alternatives located in Halifax County opens up a world of “locating,” and Aviation Alternatives will create many high tech jobs that will be filled by local Virginians, said Potts, who said he feels very strongly about helping to build a stronger local economy with his employees and his products.  

Aviation Alternatives also has partnered with Steven Crutchfield of Crutchfield and Associates Inc. in Halifax to bring clients the highest quality project engineering and surveying.  

For more information about Aviation Alternatives, call 753-2764 or visit the website