WRAL-TV First to Offer Local News Coverage with a Fleet of Drones

WRAL droneThe locally owned NBC affiliate in Raleigh, North Carolina has launched a fleet of drones bringing unmanned aerial technology to local news coverage.

WRAL-TV was one of the first broadcasters in the country to obtain a remote pilot’s certificate from the FAA and has been working on its drone program since 2014. It was one of the first television stations legally allowed to fly a drone for commercial purposes.

WRAL broadcast its first drone liveshot last week. The station has also shot drone footage of Hurricane Matthew flooding, winter weather, and added aerial videography to several documentaries including the first locally produced documentary in 4k, “Take Me Out To The Bulls Game.” The station has also used the drone fleet for promotional video.

“Using new technology to innovate local news coverage is in our DNA,” says WRAL-TV vice president and general manager Steven D. Hammel. “Our engineers and technology teams have been working on the processes, safety and training for three years. We’re excited to show our viewers a whole new vantage point from the Drone5 fleet.”

WRAL droneWRAL has two certified drone pilots with three others currently in training. The pilots fly a DJI F-550, 6-blade drone, a DJI Inspire 1, and a DJI Phantom 4 Pro.

“Safety is job one,” says Tony Gupton, WRAL’s engineer in charge of the drone project.  “We are confident that after three years of learning, studying and developing our own safety training program, and training our own staffers to fly the Drone Fleet, we will bring our viewers unique news coverage.”

LEADERSHIP
Since 2014, the station has been a leader in safely implementing this new technology. WRAL’s parent company, Capitol Broadcasting, was one of 15 leading media companies in a news media coalition that worked with the FAA and the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership to develop safety standards, design a test program and research how drones can be used by journalists for news gathering purposes.

VIDEO: See more WRAL drone footage and learn more about the Drone5 Fleet: wral.com/16555006/

Thanks to WRAL-TV’s Debbie Tullos for this capcom story & for these capcom photos.

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