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The view from above: A year with The Baltimore Sun's drone

The Baltimore Sun

A little over a year ago, The Baltimore Sun got a new camera – one that flies.

Our drone, a DJI Mavic Pro, which folds up to about the size of a burrito, has given us an elevated perspective for a variety of stories over the past year. From its bird’s-eye-view, we could take in the scope of Baltimore’s vacant housing problem, get a feel for the job of a high-rise crane operator and look into the face of George Washington atop his monument in Mount Vernon.

The use of drones by news organizations has grown exponentially in the past few years. Even television stations that have a helicopter on standby are now utilizing drones for their ease of use and cost savings. A professional quality drone can be bought for roughly the same cost as hiring a helicopter for a couple of hours.

Journalists wanting to use drones for news gathering have to go through training and become certified under the Federal Aviation Administration Part 107 regulations.

We have to follow a myriad of rules including not flying directly over people, maintaining line-of-sight with the aircraft and flying during daylight hours only. We also have a maximum altitude of 400’ above ground level and must avoid controlled airspace without authorization. In our area, BWI and Martin State Airport eat up a lot of that airspace.

With the ability to make story-telling images from the sky, a drone is a welcome addition to my camera bag.

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