All posts by Sally French

Skyfront may have the world record for longest drone flight EVER

Just as you got all excited about the new DJI Mavic Pro Platinum‘s longer flight time, here’s a new record to beat.

Menlo Park drone manufacturing startup Skyfront’s Tailwind UAV may hold the record for longest multirotor drone flight with a four hour and 34 minute continuous flight.

Here’s a video of the record-breaking flight (the drone pretty much just hovers there for the duration of the video):

So how does it work?

Unlike something like a DJI Phantom or Mavic which relies on a lithium polymer battery, this is a hybrid gasoline-electric drone.

The company clarified that the tether pictured in the video was there to comply with the landowner but does not transmit power.

Skyfront is one of a few companies to claim to hold some type of drone flight time record. Continue reading Skyfront may have the world record for longest drone flight EVER

DJI Spark discount: B&H Photo is offering sweet deals on DJI Spark drone

Still holding out on the DJI Spark? Now is the time to buy the tiny camera drone.

B&H Photo is offering a pretty sweet DJI Spark discount.

Purchase the DJI Spark quadcopter in any color from B&H Photo and get a $50 gift card. Or, purchase the DJI Spark Combo (totally worth grabbing to get the RC transmitter included) to get a $70 gift card.

See my review of the DJI Spark here.

The gift card can be used to purchase anything from B&H’s store, so you can grab an extra memory card, DJI Spark battery or — gasp(!) — non-drone related item. If you opt not to get the Spark Fly More Combo, it’s worth at least upgrading to the RC transmitter.

Read more: DJI Mavic Pro vs. Spark: which is better?

B&H also offers free expedited shipping — so no problem if you don’t have an Amazon Prime account.

Intel’s Wonder Woman drone light show powered by all-female crew

Three hundred drones flying through Los Angeles, Calif. in a “Wonder Woman”-inspired light show has brought all new meaning to the concept of ‘girl power.’

An all-female operations team at Intel, helmed by general manager Natalie Cheung, put together the Wonder Woman drone light show using the company’s Shooting Star drones for a Warner Bros. event at Dodger Stadium.

Intel’s drones have been serving as nighttime entertainment at events such as Coachella, the Super Bowl and Walt Disney WorldContinue reading Intel’s Wonder Woman drone light show powered by all-female crew

How to get a job in Hollywood as a drone pilot: Phil Pastuhov shares the secret

Want to get a job in Hollywood as a drone pilot?

Phil Pastuhov is one of the pros, having served as an Academy Award-winning aerial director of photography with over 120 feature films and hundreds of commercials to his credit including “Lord of the Rings,” “Matrix,” “James Bond,” “Spiderman,” and “Mission Impossible.” He is also an ambassador for DJI and juror for the 2017 Skypixel Video Contest.

And he’s sharing his skills this year via a drone cinematography workshop called Drone Aerial Adventures, taking place this October in Utah.

He chatted with Drone Girl on getting a job in Hollywood, what your drone reel should look like, the future of DJI and more.

Drone Girl: Let’s start with the basics. How did you get into aerial photography and then drones?

Phil Pastuhov: My whole interest in aerial photography happened quite by fluke. I started as an assistant cameraman, then became an operator. From there, I was involved in a documentary that got me involved in skydiving. Several weeks after that, I got a call from a guy asking if I could help him with a project which turned out to be “James Bond: Moonraker.” That was my first opportunity to start working in aerials and it happened to be a Bond movie.
Drone Girl: Of course, that was before people were using drones.

PP: All of my aerial photography had been through helicopters primarily. But in the last 2-3 years, drones began starting to knock on the door of commercial film making.
Continue reading How to get a job in Hollywood as a drone pilot: Phil Pastuhov shares the secret

The Yuneec H520: Yuneec’s first commercial drone is here

Yuneec’s H520 is finally here.

The commercial-focused drone, which starts at $1,999 and can cost up to $4,699, was announced back in January at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada.

It looks very much like the Typhoon H drone, but with two key noticeable differences (among many other less noticeable differences): it’s bright orange and slightly larger.

Like the Typhoon H, it has a 360-degree, 3-axis gimbal with retractable landing gear. Camera options include the CGOET dual thermal RGB camera, E50 seven-element inspection-ready camera and E90. Continue reading The Yuneec H520: Yuneec’s first commercial drone is here

AeroVironment stock up more than 100% in the last 12 months

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

One American drone maker’s stock is flying especially high this year.

Shares of Los Angeles-based AeroVironment, which makes drones for military and enterprise customers, are up 81% this year and 102% in the past 12 months. That was boosted by a 9% rally after AeroVironment reported better-than-expected first-quarter earnings last month.

While Chinese drone maker DJI has crushed much of the competition for consumer drones, commercial drone makers are finding success, especially in military and enterprise applications.

AeroVironment, which makes drones both for reconnaissance and as lethal weapons, is increasingly turning to small drones, about the size of a water bottle.

“The demand for our small UAS products and solutions internationally is strong and continues to be strong,” AeroVironment Chief Executive Wahid Nawabi said during the company’s quarterly earnings call last week.

Aerovironment has delivered 30 of its Snipe drones to the U.S. Department of Defense. The 5-ounce, cell phone-sized camera drone has motors so quiet that it is difficult to detect, and is used for reconnaissance. AeroVironment sells its drones to 40 other countries, and this quarter signed contracts with the Australian military and an unnamed Middle East customer. Continue reading AeroVironment stock up more than 100% in the last 12 months

7 ways drones are helping Hurricane Irma, Harvey recovery experts

In the days after Hurricane Harvey, the Federal Aviation Administration issued 137 airspace authorizations for drone-related recover efforts in the Houston area. Not long after, the FAA issued 132 airspace authorizations in the Florida area shortly after Hurricane Irma, the FAA announced this week.

Approvals were needed to fly drones during the hurricane because the area was otherwise covered by a Temporary Flight Restriction.

And many of those approvals were processed within hours, according to The Wall Street Journal, an exceptionally fast turnaround for the industry, which is accustomed to waiting weeks or even months to get drone flights approved.

Hundreds of drones are being used for hurricane recovery efforts, whether for surveys, helping with insurance claims, restoring power and more.

“Essentially, every drone that flew meant that a traditional aircraft was not putting an additional strain on an already fragile system,”  FAA Administrator Michael Huerta  said during a speech at Interdrone. “I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the hurricane response will be looked back upon as a landmark in the evolution of drone usage in this country.”

Here were some of the ways drones were used in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma:

Search and rescue:  In Houston, the team from Texas A&M University’s Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue flew 119 drone flights in eight days between Aug. 25 and Sept. 4. The team used drones ranging from DJI Phantom 3 drones and the Parrot Disco to high-end inspection drones such as those by PrecisionHawk. Not only did the team spot people in need, they also monitored levees and measured damage.

Media coverage:  Media outlets such as ABC and CNN aired drone footage to show viewers what the affected areas looked like before and after the storm.

Surveying: The National Guard used drones to perform aerial surveys, allowing them to get an aerial view of the disaster and determine which areas to prioritize for assistance.

Railroads: Eight of the approvals related to Harvey were to a Texas railroad company, which used drones to survey damage along a major rail line.

Mapping: The U.S. Customs and Border Protection used drones to map areas in Key West, Miami and Jacksonville, allowing them to inspect infrastructure such as power plants for The Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Insurance: Airbus Aerial is using drones to help insurance companies handle insurance claims. Airbus Aerial technology allows insurers access to its archives of data to see what a given area looked like before a storm, then task high resolution satellites in the areas of most importance to them. The drones are able to gather data, and paired with manned aircraft and satellite data can give an image of sites before and after the hurricane. According to a statement released by Airbus Aerial, “this helps insurance companies to prioritize the hardest hit areas and efficiently deploy their on-site adjusters to the places they are needed most. ”

Power restoration: The Jacksonville Electric Authority in Florida used drones in its work to restore power after severe outages that affected 6 million residents. Drones were able to do damage assessments within 24 hours of the storm.

Florida Power and Light, which serves 4.4 million customers, also used drones to survey the area, helping them restore electricity. The company has 49 drone teams, and many were operating within an hour of the storm subsididing.