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Local Pilot Shoots Houses from Above

If you've ever admired an aerial photo of someone's house, chances are Pete Jensen , a New Canaan resident, took it from his Cessna 152 , which he flies out of Danbury Municipal Airport .

Jensen learned to fly in 1984 when his job as an information technology specialist in the Foreign Service took him to Johannesburg, South Africa. Several postings later, in Geneva, Switzerland, he was flying over the Swiss Alps when he spotted what he calls "a marble pile" on the shore of Lake Geneva . Realizing that it was the U.S. ambassador's official residence, he took some photos from the plane and sent them to his boss.

"Ten minutes later I got a phone call to come to his office," Jensen says. He was convinced he'd somehow breached security, he said, and felt he was "walking to the gallows." Prepared for the worst, he discovered that the ambassador was so delighted with the pictures that he wanted them printed on the best photo stock so he could show them off at a conference.

Jensen retired from the Foreign Service three years ago and, like many in his generation, he's decided that sitting at home is not how he wants to spend his golden years. In 2010, he photographed more than 100 houses from the air, mostly high ticket properties in Bedford, New Canaan, Rye, Greenwich and Westport. Ninety percent of his business comes from real estate agents, but he also takes photographs for homeowners who want a special shot of their home.

When he's not following GPS coordinates in his Cessna to snap a shot of a house, you might spot Jensen taking off from Westchester County Airport in his Piper Cherokee . He flies up and down the Hudson or over the Long Island and Connecticut coasts as a volunteer with the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary . The Coastguard operates out of bases on Cape Cod and in Atlantic City. "They're pretty stretched so we keep an eye on the area in between," Jensen says. So far, he's never been called to a search and rescue, but he's armed and ready for action. With his camera, that is.

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