About Rick

Rick Charles is fortunate to have been born with an eye for the image.  He first picked up a camera in high school and joined his school’s photography club where he learned darkroom film processing for photos he took at New York Rangers hockey games at Madison Square Garden.  Having been bitten by the aviation bug at a young age,  Rick decided to make aviation his career and became an aviator in the U.S. Air Force that allowed him to photograph countless fighter jets and other aircraft. In addition, if that was not enough,  Rick became a 9-1-1 first responder (firefighter & emergency medical technician) to satisfy his adrenaline junkie needs. He remains active today as a 9-1-1 first responder.  Rick has photographed emergency response incidents as well as emergency vehicles and station life.


Polaris.Aerial combines all three of Rick’s passions (photography, aviation and public safety) into one entity.


Professionally,  he served on active duty with the United States Air Force and flew over 30 combat sorties as a mission crewmember on the E-3B/C Sentry (AWACS) aircraft during Operation DESERT STORM in 1991.  Since leaving the USAF, he has held various full-time national security positions with the Department of Homeland Security (selected to be part of the initial cadre of headquarters staff in 2003) and later at the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  As a true aviation geek, he was selected to lead a national security-focused team with the Federal Aviation Administration in 2011.


Rick profoundly supports law enforcement, fire-EMS first responders and our current military service members, and fellow veterans.


Rick uses Nikon bodies and Nikon and Tamron lenses for his photography, He currently shoots with a Nikon D810 and D7000. He also uses Thinktank bags, Really Right Stuff tripod with RRS ball head, Manfrotto stands with Joby heads, and the Gary Fong Lightsphere.     Post-production is done on Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.

He flies a DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Yuneec Typhoon H remote rotorcraft for aerial imagery.

Photo by AirShack @ KLAS, 2018

Affiliations & Certifications

Why Polaris?

"Polaris", or the "North Star", is a key celestial navigational reference for aviators and mariners, alike.  With its focus on aviation and first responders, Polaris.Aerial's photographic and aerial imaging services strives to provide wisdom, insight, and clarity to real-time events in order to help partners navigate through challenging situations or to just capture the moment and its essential qualities.