Category Archives: Flight Diaries

Amazon drones and the hype machine mistakenly fueling the drone industry

The following is a modified version of a piece originally written for MarketWatch.com. Read the entire version here.

Amazon.com on Wednesday announced that it had made its first drone delivery to a customer.

The  drone flight delivered a 4.7 pound package, taking 13 minutes to cover about 2 miles, flying from an Amazon warehouse over the English countryside to a landing pad placed in a customer’s yard. The story is all told in a neatly packaged video produced by Amazon that shows the warehouse and a man ordering the package, then walking out to his yard to receive it from a landing pad. Inside? A Fire TV and a bag of popcorn.

The news was covered as “a major step for drone delivery” as outlets touted how drone delivery “just became a reality.”

The reality is that Amazon’s drone delivery service currently services only two customers. Over the next several months it will expand to dozens who live near the company’s warehouse. Continue reading Amazon drones and the hype machine mistakenly fueling the drone industry

Watch a film shot entirely on a DJI drone

Think you can shoot a film entirely with a drone? That means not just an entire film of epic aerial shots. It means close-ups of the actors and indoor scenes too.

DJI proved they could do it, using nothing but the recently launched, $2,999 Inspire 2 drone.

DJI released “The Circle,” a 14-minute short film starring Ryan Phillippe and Noah Schnapp (Will Byers from Stranger Things) as an estranged father and son (respectively) in Depression-era America.

The Circle was shot entirely on the Inspire 2, using the drone’s X5R camera for every shot in the film. It was created by  Academy Award-winning cinematographer Claudio Miranda, known for his work on “Life of Pi,” “Oblivion,” and “Tron.”screen-shot-2016-11-26-at-10-03-14-pm

“The advantage is obvious on smaller projects when you can’t afford cranes and all of the technicians that come along with it,” said Executive Producer Dana Brunetti.

Watch it here:

Continue reading Watch a film shot entirely on a DJI drone

The best drone films of 2016 — according to FRiFF

2016 saw plenty of developments in the drone industry — sense and avoid in consumer-level drones, better cameras for a lower price, and all around crazy low prices for drones.

Because of that, drones are easier than ever to access, which also means that the standards for drone photography and videography are higher. It’s not enough to send a drone in the air and get a cool shot just because it’s an aerial shot.

Now films need to have some type of story — and incredible aerial visuals.

This year’s Flying Robot international Drone Film Festival showcased exactly that. The 2nd annual FRiFFest in San Francisco, happened earlier this month at the Roxie Theater in the city’s Mission District. The festival received 180 submissions from 40 countries. Across 8 categories,  25 films were showcased at the festival.

I thought The Drone, which one best cinematic narrative, was absolutely brilliant and hilarious. Moon Line, which won in multiple categories, had me wondering the whole time, ‘how’d they do that?’

For some inspiration for your own drone videography, check out these winners (and for those of you who couldn’t watch the show in-person, you can watch all the winning videos below too):

Best in Show: Moon Line, Frédéric Rousseau [France]

Cinematic Narrative: The Drone, Jordan Rubin [USA]

Epic Landscape: Drone Poem: Always Take The Window Seat, Alexander Hotz [USA] Continue reading The best drone films of 2016 — according to FRiFF

Happy Dronesgiving from The Drone Girl

Happy Dronesgiving to my wonderful Dronie Family! It’s been a joy and a blessing to be a part of this evolving community with you!

I’ll be spending my Thanksgiving eating some greens, mac and cheese and a protein shake in there too — I’m vegetarian!

And while droning is not in the plans today — I’ll definitely get some droning in this weekend — and a DJI Mavic Pro has just arrived for me to test out so look for that soon!

In the meantime, if you haven’t started cooking yet, check out this guide to cooking Thanksgiving with a drone, made by the brilliant folks over at Autel. The video features the Autel X-Star premium, one of my favorite drones out there — and now on sale for just $678 right here.

Remember — don’t try this at home!

Black Friday drone deals guide — save on DJI, Yuneec and more!

Shopping for a drone (or drone-related deals) on Black Friday? Here’s your Black Friday drone deals guide. Some of the deals are offered even earlier (like, right now!). Check it out:
*Note, if you are reading this story before Friday, some of the links will not reflect the Black Friday prices until then.*drones cost under $200
DIRECTLY FROM DJI
DJI’s Black Friday deals will be available on Friday, Nov. 25 on DJI’s own online store, at authorized DJI dealers and in the Shenzhen, Seoul and Hong Kong DJI Flagship Stores.
  1. Phantom 4 ($999 – reduced from $1,199): Remember it’s original price at $1,399? Wow! *Drone Girl top deal pick*
  2. Phantom 3 Professional ($799 – reduced from $999)
  3. Phantom 3 Standard ($399 – reduced from $499): Yes! A drone under $400! *Drone Girl top deal pick*
b&h drone black friday deals
Here are some of B&H’s deals for drones on Black Friday!

B&H PHOTO

B&H has all kinds of drone deals! I love B&H because they offer free standard shipping. Why pay for Amazon Prime when you can order from B&H and get shipping free? Don’t wait until Black Friday either. B&H’s deals are available now!
  1. DJI Phantom 3 Standard PLUS Extra Battery ($449 – reduced from $499): At $449, the Phantom 3 Standard is $50 more than what you would get from DJI’s site if you were to purchase it through B&H. However, here’s why B&H is actually a better deal! B&H gives all customers of its Phantom 3 Standard an extra battery. Considering the battery costs $149 (and believe me, you’ll want to buy another one), the B&H deal is a steal. *Drone Girl top deal pick*
  2. Parrot Disco FPV ($999 – reduced from $1,299)
  3. Yuneec Typhoon H Hexacopter with CGO3+ 4K Camera ($999 – reduced from $1,299)
  4. Yuneec Breeze 4K Quadcopter ($399 – reduced from $499)
AMAZON
  1. Yuneec Typhoon H Hexacopter with CG3+ 4K Camera ($949.99 – reduced from $1,299) *Drone Girl top deal pick*
  2. DJI Phantom 4 ($1,069 – reduced from $1,199)

dart drones black friday coupon code

DRONE TRAINING AND PART 107 COURSES
  1. DARTdrones is offering 25% off all its courses purchased before Friday, Nov. 25. Use coupon code DroneGirl25 to get the discount!
  2. Drone Launch Academy is offering 50% off its courses through Monday, 11/28 with coupon code BLACKFRIDAY50, bringing the $249 Part 107 Prep Course to just $125.
Happy flying, and happy shopping!

Is DJI’s Phantom 4 Pro pricing cannibalizing itself?

This is an excerpt from a story originally written for MarketWatch.com. Read the entire story here.

DJI earlier this week announced its new Phantom 4 drone, which can sense obstacles in front, behind and on both sides of it, and it has left industry experts wondering how much downward price pressure the drone-making behemoth can put on the industry.

The new Phantom 4 Pro, priced at $1,499, is an improvement on the Phantom 4 drone, which is also targeted to the prosumer segment and has only one sensor on the front.

China-based DJI on Tuesday also announced the $2,999 Inspire 2, which is targeted at professional photographers, captures 5.2K video and has a dual battery system as a fail-safe.

“DJI is coming out with new versions of its products left and right,” said Alan Perlman, founder of drone online community and training program UAV Coach. “They’re offering so many options, and maybe it’s a good strategy in the short term to flood the market.” Continue reading Is DJI’s Phantom 4 Pro pricing cannibalizing itself?

How Autel’s ‘flying pumpkin’ drone holds up against a real pumpkin

Happy Halloween!autel drone xstar halloween

Because you’re probably one of the 9 million people out there who have already seen this “epic Halloween prank” video (or your friends who know you love drones have sent it to you 9 million times), here’s an ALL-NEW Halloween drone video!

Autel is capitalizing on the joke around their ‘orange pumpkin’ drone nickname and checking out how their drone stacks up against some real pumpkins.

They took some drones and dressed them in costumes including a Phantom, a Parrot, a Hero, a Typhoon and a Solo — Han Solo.autel xstar crash

In my own reviews, I’ve found that the X-Star holds up quite well to crashes. However, spoiler alert: the X-Star does NOT hold up to pumpkin collisions. Check it out:

For the record — the orange color of Autel’s drone actually has  a purpose — better visibility of the drone while flying!

I passed the FAA Part 107 test! Here’s what it’s like (and how I studied)

Hey guys!

This week I am super excited because I now have my remote pilot certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration. I wanted to tell you a little bit about my experience, how I studied, and what to expect.

I took the test in Oakland, Calfornia at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance. There are nearly 700 FAA-approved testing centers around the U.S.!

While most testing centers do take walk-ins, it’s best if you call ahead. The FAA has designated two private companies to administer the test— either Computer Assisted Testing Service (also known as cats) or PSI / LaserGrade Computer Testing. I chose LaserGrade just because it’s the closest to where I live.

Related post: FAA Part 107 test: everything you need to know (except the answers) Continue reading I passed the FAA Part 107 test! Here’s what it’s like (and how I studied)