Drones are the newest toys in TV newsrooms all across the country and my station, WAVE 3 News in Louisville, KY, is no different. In the last month we have received one drone solely for our newsroom’s use with the promise of another coming in the near future. As we begin to examine ways to fold our new toy into our news coverage there are a considerable amount challenges we must consider:

  • Our station is situated in downtown Louisville and is within the restricted airspace of the Louisville International Airport. Therefore for most stories in the Louisville metro flying our drone is not an option (see map below)
    • Screenshot 2017-06-04 19.33.59
      Courtesy: Know Before You Fly 
  • I’ve been told the drones have a fly time of just shy of 30 minutes. Realistically, this means that we will not be able to incorporate LIVE drone video into coverage of a breaking news situation. Drone usage for news purposes will likely have to be confined to previously recorded video that runs in later news segments.
  • Our station also co-ops a helicopter with the ABC affiliate in the market. However, the helicopter is not HD whereas our drone shoots and streams full 1080 HD. This dynamic of having an existing aerial video capability presents yet another logistical constraint on when and how it would be best to deploy our drone to collect video.

With those restrictions in mind, the types of stories we can use drones for are limited. One of the first potential uses that comes to mind is using the drone for our Derby coverage. But Churchill Downs is 2.5 miles away from the airport – which means the track is within the airports restricted airspace. However, stories I believe could be enhanced by recording drone video are situations that are too dangerous for our photographers or helicopter to get close to. Here are a few things that come to mind:

  • Extremely large fires outside of restricted airspace
  • Difficult/dangerous places to get to (for example, collecting exterior video of the cave where half a dozen spelunkers were trapped December of last year)
  • Beauty shots of the Capitol in Frankfort

Unfortunately, I don’t have much to suggest when it comes to any A/B type of field testing. Given the nature of when it would be best to deploy our drone given the constraints, merely getting the video we were once unable to record, would indicate mission success.




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