In 2010, an IT employee at CNN went to the mall and bought his son a Parrot AR.Drone as a Christmas present.
That drone, a piece of equipment that’s more toy than tool, would become the first drone to air footage for a major national news network.
The pilot? Aaron Brodie, a producer with CNN.com at the time, and now a freelance photojournalist and founder of Extreme Journalist, a multimedia storytelling startup
At the time, Brodie didn’t think much of the drone during his conversation with the IT guy. He was too inundated with other work to think about it.
But then the Tuscaloosa tornado happened.
A massive tornado cut a 5.9-mile path of destruction, damaging more than 5,700 structures. As the weather geek in the newsroom (every newsroom has one), Brodie was sent to cover the disaster for a few days.
A few days later, Brodie’s boss sent him back. This time, he was armed with the drone that belonged to their coworker’s son.
“It was a challenge to fly at first, and I didn’t read the instruction manual,” he said. “I started flying it around the newsroom and scared everybody to death flying it inside. I went back to Tuscaloosa and learned to fly in a park there.
Since that model of the Parrot didn’t allow video recording, Brodie “borrowed” (without asking) a GoPro from another department, hurried to Target to buy double-faced tape, stripped the drone down and took the foam protector off so it could carry the weight of the GoPro. Continue reading CNN producer, first national network drone journalist speaks on legality of drone use