Here’s the next installment of Ask Drone Girl. Got a question for her? Send your email here.
Hi Drone Girl,
My name is Laura and my son and his cousin started a droning business in Michigan about a year ago. Recently they were asked to drone a festival in our town, Lake Orion, and they readily accepted needing the exposure. I have a question…have you ever filmed a festival or in an area with large crowds. How do you launch your drone? Do you cordon off an area or have a launch pad? We’re worried about the thousands of people milling around the area and the danger of the blades of the drone.
P.S. the boys company is insured.
I have filmed in large crowds, and it’s tricky! People love to come up to you and talk to you about what you’re doing, and while it’s easy to want to be friendly and have a chat, you also need to focus. I photographed a crowd with a drone flying over Crissy Broadcast in The Presidio for The San Francisco Chronicle. Luckily at this event there weren’t too many people, so I was able to stand away from people in a grassy area to launch, without having to cordon off an area. Most drone injuries happen during takeoff and landing, so it’s important that you don’t do these steps near other people. If your event is going to be wall to wall people, you’ll definitely want to cordon off an area where you can launch.
It’s great that you’ll have what sounds like two people there. One should be piloting with their eyes on the drone the whole time, and one should be the spotter looking out for other things in the sky (or coming at you on the ground too). You may even want a third person to control the drone’s camera, depending on what kind of gear you’re using. The great thing about cordoning off an area is you don’t have to worry about people coming up and asking questions while you’re in flight.
As for flying over crowds, it’s tricky! The FAA recommends not flying over people, but if it’s over public property for non-commercial use, you have a right to. If you have any slightest doubt about your piloting abilities, don’t fly over people. If you are 100% confident, then I think I feel comfortable advising you to go for it.
One of my favorite drone videos ever from when I first started reporting on drones was from The Drone Dudes. They fly all over the crowd, but that’s obviously risky. Use your judgement.
And of course, happy flying!
Disagree with me? Particularly those of you who say, ‘absolutely no flying over crowds’? I’d love to hear from you; leave a comment below!