Small Businesses

All About SkyGlow Drone Productions

How two local industries—aviation and entertainment—have come together for a bright collab.

By Susan Atteberry Smith

Mar 2024

Photo by TCG PhotographySkyGlow uses 100 drones in its shows; by the end of this year they would like to be using nearly 300.

Imagine hundreds of colorful drones rising into the sky to music. That’s what Michael Haygood and Jason Preston envisioned when they formed SkyGlow Drone Productions. Their first show was last year, at a Christmas party at Cassidy Station in Ozark.

While drone shows may not be so uncommon, what makes SkyGlow’s shows unique is the syncing of lights with music. “As amazing as it is to see that in the sky, that’s what a lot of people are doing, and we’re trying to go one step beyond,” says Preston, SkyGlow’s director of operations.

In addition, even two to three miles away from a show site, drivers can tune in on FM radio, SkyGlow CEO Michael Haygood says.

Preston, a medical services pilot for Mercy, credits Haygood, who has handled production for years at his family’s Branson musical show, The Haygoods, for choreographing everything to the exact second.

“Not only do I perform and entertain, but I absolutely love production,” says the band’s lead vocalist and guitarist. “I love the special effects, and that’s what kind of led us into, ‘Hey, I don’t think there’s anybody in the area utilizing this latest technology.’ It’s pretty cool to watch these drones animate the sky and do different shapes and logos.”

Longtime friends, the men also share a longtime love of aviation.

Preston, 48, met Haygood when he was doing helicopter tours of Branson. Haygood, 38, has piloted fixed-wing and ultralight aircraft for at least 20 years. About four years ago, as both of them became increasingly interested in drones, they also became more interested in their entertainment possibilities. After they worked together on projects like the Branson Ferris Wheel, for which Haygood designed the lighting system in 2016, they began to notice an increasing number of drone shows, Preston says.

“As it becomes more popular, it just kind of made sense for the two of us to shake hands and go into this together,” Preston says.

So far their unique skill sets have made for a complementary business partnership, Preston says: “We really value the other’s opinion and the other’s ability as well. I understand the regulatory and the legal side of it, and he’s very good with the production and lighting side of it.

Now, SkyGlow uses 100 drones in its shows; by the end of this year they would like to be using nearly 300. The more drones they can use, the greater the resolution of the show for clients who may want to have pictures, greetings or logos flown across the sky. Adding fireworks to the show is a next step. “We would love to attract the attention of some larger businesses who kind of see the need for this, but at the same time we want to make sure we’re flying for heart, flying for fun,” Haygood says.