All posts by Sally French

Drone Nationals results (and photos) — as seen on ESPN this weekend

The U.S. has a new top drone racing pilot.

Zachry “A_Nub” Thayer of Laguna Niguel, Calif., won the 2016 U.S. National Drone Racing Championships at Governors Island, New York this weekend.

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All photos courtesy of the Drone Sports Association

The competition  featured 150 drone pilots in the world. Over the last year, 1400 pilots attempted to qualify at 20 regional qualifiers across the country.

Here are the full Drone Nationals results:

  1. Zachry “A_Nub” Thayer
  2. Paul “Bulbufet” Nurkkala
  3. Christopher “M3” Wang

And for the first time ever, ESPN aired drone racing on its ESPN3 live-stream. Continue reading Drone Nationals results (and photos) — as seen on ESPN this weekend

What’s the best drone for roof inspections?

What is the best drone to use for roof inspections?

You really don’t need to do anything fancy! I was thinking about the use case for drones in roof inspections when I was at my mom’s house in Missouri over the weekend. (I live in a condo building in San Francisco, so no need for me to do my own roof inspections here!)

Roof inspections can get fancy. You could add a thermal camera (particularly if you have solar panels on your roof). If you had a huge roof and needed to fly the exact same route every time, you might want to use Skycatch, which could even generate a map for you.

But for most roof inspectors, all you want is a relatively small drone that is stable, easy to fly, can get close to the roof, is safe, and offers both a live video feed and generates high qualities images or video that can be saved.

Often, all you need to see is a clip something like this, which I took when my mom asked me to drone-photograph her house for her:

I shot the following clip on the Autel X-Star.

So what drone should you use for roof inspections?

There are really 3 drones I would recommend, all of which cost less than $800 including camera, and offer at least 20 minutes of flight time. Each of these drones also

If you need to do more advanced roof inspections — such as needing a dual controller, scroll down for more recommendations.

autel x-star
I did a mock roof inspection for my mom using this Autel X-Star drone.

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh: tour with Drone Girl!

I had a blast at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016!

EAA AirVenture is the world’s largest air show, and it focuses on all things aviation, from traditional planes to homebuilt planes to skydiving. This year, they significantly expanded their drone offerings, complete with a whole drone tent and flight demo cage.

I led a few drone related events, including a hands-on class for 60 young women, and a seminar on Drones in Today’s World.

But I REALLY had fun checking out the rest of the show and learning a lot about manned aviation. I’m dazzled by the positivity and enthusiasm here. People at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh are curious about what’s new, and proud to show off their own stuff. And the nicest crowd too!

So join me on my tour (I do fly in a  plane upside down)!

P.S.: Please subscribe to my YouTube channel. New videos every Sunday!

How Good Morning America’s Maria Stefanopoulos is using drones for TV news

Good Morning America’s Maria Stefanopoulos has had more wild adventures working in drones in the past couple years than many people might have in a lifetime. She has flown over (and through) everything from a volcano in Iceland, to a cave in Vietnam with DJI.

Stefanopoulos is a Production Manager at ABC News, Good Morning America, based in New York. She first got into drones about 18 months ago for GMA’s first drone-related shoot (in Iceland), and purchased her own drone shortly after that.

Here’s her story:

abc gma iceland
Courtesy Maria Stefanopoulos

DG: Let’s start by talking about the first shoot you did with a drone in Iceland. So originally, the plan was to have a drone flying around the studio, but then you decided to just go big and take it to the Arctic Circle. How did that all happen?

MS: February is a sweeps month, so for us TV people that means we like to up the ante. Our senior editorial staff approached me about an idea to have drones take over our studio for a “Game of Drones” series — Wiz by the weather wall, carry scripts to our anchors at the news desk, even drop off a cup of coffee to a correspondent on the set.

We were sold on this idea, until our Senior Producer came across Eric Cheng’s video where he flew a drone into an active volcano in Iceland. I remember the day my boss approached me about production managing this event. She said “Would you mind putting together a budget for another crazy idea? I’m sure it’ll never happen. A volcano. Iceland. Drones. LIVE.” I watched the YouTube video and thought – for so many reasons –  there’s no way this is going to happen…”

DG: But it happened! Continue reading How Good Morning America’s Maria Stefanopoulos is using drones for TV news

Drone Nationals air on ESPN this weekend

It’s the second annual Drone Nationals this weekend in New York City, and it’s shaping up to be America’s largest drone race yet, especially given the fact that they have snagged a spot on ESPN.

ESPN3 will air the race on Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern time—the first time America’s largest sports network will cover the sport.

Tune in here.

It’s called the 2016 U.S. National Drone Racing Championships, and this weekend, 100 pilots will gather to race at speeds of more than 60 miles an hour.  Continue reading Drone Nationals air on ESPN this weekend

Yuneec gets into FPV with SkyView FPV headset

Yuneec just made a major milestone in the race for top drone manufacturer today with the release of its own first person view (FPV) headset.

Drone maker Yuneec today announced its new SkyView FPV headset, making it the first major consumer drone manufacturer to offer its own FPV headset.

The headset will cost $249.99 and is compatible with the Typhoon H and Tornado H920.yuneec fpv Continue reading Yuneec gets into FPV with SkyView FPV headset

DJI is opening a drone arena in Korea

Drone manufacturer SZ DJI Technology Co. this month is opening its first-ever DJI Arena — an event space for training seminars, UAV clubs and corporate events.

The 15,000-square-foot space is opening this month just south of Seoul, South Korea, in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province.

The indoor venue will be equipped with safety nets, and an LED-lit circuit for pilots to fly through. Continue reading DJI is opening a drone arena in Korea

FAA says rules about drones flying over people could be announced by end of year

Drones may still be a new, niche technology, but the U.S. government is starting to recognize that they aren’t likely to go the way of other passing fads.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy hosted its first ever drone workshop on Tuesday, which brought together leaders from around the corporate world (Google and Intel) and government officials to discuss developments in the drone world.

Several drone-related announcements from various government agencies came out of the workshop, including news that the United States Postal Service is studying drone delivery and the National Science Foundation would make a $35 million commitment to research drones.

One of the biggest announcements came from the Federal Aviation Administration, which said that the existing restriction on commercial drones flying over people could be removed by the end of the year. Continue reading FAA says rules about drones flying over people could be announced by end of year