In Arkansas, Drones Take Place of News Choppers

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Apr. 21, 2014 12:00 am  

“Same with the state Capitol. I’ve flown the state Capitol twice, for two different companies, and both times I’ve had permission from the state Capitol police and the people involved.”

“I’ve always said to stay below 400 feet,” he said. “That way you’re not going to fly into anything commercially flying overhead.”

He said photographers try to keep their aircraft within eyesight — typically within 150 yards.

“If you can see your helicopter with your own eyes, never fly farther than that,” he said. “If you do, if you lose it … you wouldn’t be able to get it back.”

He also avoids subjects that involve large crowds of people: There are liability issues.

“You’re putting your helicopter up in the air without the written permission of every single person involved,” he said. “There’s a risk, even with a real news chopper. You’re putting people at risk to some degree.”

Genty, at KATV, wasn’t too concerned about pending regulation. He said drone shoots are “definitely a wave of the future,” and noted that his photographer always seeks permission before a shoot.

Kellerman said that KARK’s use of freelancers like Trieschmann helps the station avoid potentially losing an investment in its own drones — which can cost up to $100,000 or more — in case regulations are too strict.

Still, Trieschmann is guessing that the regulations won’t affect his business too much.

Most of the other photographers in his field think that the FAA will break down remote aircraft into several categories based on size, he said.

“Your 5-year-old son flying his remote control helicopter in his backyard is not the business of the FAA,” Trieschmann said.

“This is tentative stuff, nobody knows for sure, but the feeling in the industry is that small-scale RC in the 5-pound to 10-pound size class, with a small camera, is not going to be regulated as long as they stay within eyesight and don’t fly in public areas without permission.”



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