New business specializes in drone photography

Charlie Denison

Daly’s drone took this shot of Cottonwood Creek this fall.

Photo courtesy of David Daly

David Daly of Vigilante Enterprises LLC flies his DJI Phantom 4 Advanced drone at Brewery Flats Wednesday morning.
Photo by Charlie Denison

David Daly wasn’t enjoying what he was doing.

“I was running a construction company out of Los Angeles, and I was miserable,” he said. “I was spending all my time working for money I never got to enjoy.”

Living in southern California at the time, Daly and his wife, Daphne, started contemplating a change.

“We’ve always believed ‘if you’re not happy, do something else,’” Daly said, “so we did.”

David and Daphne packed up their stuff, and moved to Lewistown. In June, they launched a drone-based business called Vigilante Enterprises LLC, which specializes in providing data and imagery through drones and offers “products of traditional photographers along with much more,” according to their mission statement.

Now a Federal Aviation Administration commercial drone pilot, Daly loves the new routine, especially the travel involved. He also loves having an excuse to explore Montana scenery and fly drones around.

“Working with the drones is something I really enjoy and it gives me peace of mind,” he said. “There is a lot of variety to the job, too, which I appreciate. I had one job in Wyoming where a lady wanted to take a look at the ground of a Native American reservation to see if certain stones were grave markers or just colored stones. Every job is different. I can’t say that about my management jobs. They were very day-to-day and always the same.”

With his new role as Vigilante Enterprises CEO, Daly has traveled to California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and all over Montana, providing his clients with an array of services, including agricultural mapping, real estate and construction, utility inspections and more. He does most of this work using a DJI Phantom 4 Advanced drone, which can go up to 400 feet in the air and can take videos as well as photos.

“You can see everything in real time like you would on a camera,” Daly said. “It’s got all kinds of imbedded functions you can change. You can manipulate colors and even film in black and white. You can also use the multispectral aspect by tracking nitrate levels to tell which plants are diseased. It’s pretty impressive what all you can do with it. It’s not a tool that’s used for one thing.”

The drone can also be used as a tracking device.

“You can take a picture of a vehicle, for instance, and you can have it follow the vehicle,” he said. “You can have it follow people, too. If you’re going for a run, for example, you can set it up to track you.”

Uses for Daly’s drones are endless, and can potentially save a life. In hopes to give back, Daly and his wife want to offer this service in emergency situations.

“Daphne and I want to give back to the community,” Daly said. “Wherever search and rescue is needed, we’d like to use our drones – free of charge – to help as best we can.”


Finding a new home

It turns out small-town Montana is exactly what Daly needed.

“I have a bit of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and this change of pace has been really good for me,” he said.

After four tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan as a member of the Marine Corps, Daly – who suffered a debilitating back injury during his service – is ready to put it all behind him and start a new life. The laid-back atmosphere of Montana has allowed him to take a load off, and he’s not taking the opportunity for granted.

“We had an opportunity to go someplace new and we’re glad we came here,” he said. “We’d always wanted to come to Montana.”

That’s where the name of their company comes from.

“We thought of the spirit of the Vigilantes, as described by Professor [Thomas] Dimsdale,” Daly said. “We thought it’d be a cool homage to the state’s history.”

For more information on Vigilante Enterprises, go to or call Daly at (406) 530-7077.




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