Chuck ’80 and Denise Nelms ’81 have seen their dreams take flight — literally. The couple, who lives in Kemah, own and operate Pelican View Drone Services, a commercial drone company providing aerial high-definition images and cinematic aerial videos for their Houston-area clients. Chuck, a Federal Aviation Administration-certified drone pilot, and Denise, the company’s sales and marketing manager, started their business in 2017.

Denise grew up in Alvin and was a member of her high school’s marching band. Her passion for music led her to Nacogdoches, where she joined the Lumberjack Marching Band and met her future husband. Chuck, a Longview native, played bass trombone in the LMB, and Denise’s instrument of choice was the bassoon.

The pair was good friends until Denise’s junior year when, “The timing was finally right.”

“One of us was always dating someone else,” Denise said. “At the beginning of my junior year, we went on a date, and we’ve been together ever since.”

Although they each loved music and were dedicated band members, Chuck majored in business administration, and Denise pursued her degree in broadcast communications.

After graduating from SFA, the couple married and soon moved from Dallas to Detroit, Michigan, where Chuck worked for Electronic Data Systems, an information technology services company.

Later, they moved to Florida, where Chuck worked for AC Nielsen, a global marketing research firm. The couple eventually settled in New Hampshire, where they raised their two daughters, with Chuck working for Liberty Mutual Insurance.

In 2011 the Nelms decided to return to Texas. Chuck worked in the information technology sector, and Denise served as a flight attendant in private aviation. Life rolled along for the couple until everything changed on Christmas day 2015 when a gift launched them into a new career path.

“I surprised Chuck with a drone for Christmas,” Denise said. “I was hoping it would become a fun hobby. However, his first flight ended with the drone in a tree.”

But that didn’t stop Chuck from wanting to learn more about flying it.

“I attended Drone Command Live, a seminar that provides comprehensive training on how to start and run a drone business. I also kept practicing.”

Soon, he purchased additional drones and opened Pelican View Drone Services. His first jobs entailed taking aerial photographs and video for real estate. A few months passed, and Denise decided it was time to join her husband’s business venture. She uses her broadcast communications degree to help market the company.

With an eye in the sky, Pelican View Drone Services does a little bit of everything, from taking photos and videos to creating business marketing materials to photographing boats and luxury yachts.

Their subsidiary business,, provides a way for boat owners to check on the condition of their vessel without having to be there. After purchasing a subscription, the Nelms send a drone pilot to take aerial photos of the boat, then these are emailed to the client.

“Hurricane Harvey initiated the idea for,” Chuck said. “Our hearts were broken for friends and neighbors whose boats were damaged or capsized because of the storm. There was so much uncertainty and worry, but because the roads in many areas were impassible, it was not possible for people to check on their boats. This is a way to help provide peace of mind.”

Looking forward, the Nelms are concentrating on expanding their scope of services to include mapping, measuring, inspections and surveying for engineering and construction projects. Chuck continues to refine his drone-piloting skills and stays up to date on drone technology and changes to federal aviation laws regarding drone flight.

The couple said they are having the time of their lives doing what they love.

“Almost 40 years ago, we started our life’s journey together,” Denise said. “There have been some twists and turns. It’s very special to both of us that we are building our business together. The sky is our limit.”