What happens next
We’re now a week away from the start of SPJ’s sweep through the Southeast. Check the Drone Tour map for the date of your stop. Here are the updated details…
When: 10 am or thereabouts. Please negotiate the exact time with pilot Brandon Ballenger this week. Email him.
How long: Brandon can stay for up to four hours. (After that, he needs to hit the road, so he can meet the next group the next morning.) Actual flying time is one hour without recharging any of the three swappable batteries. So the bigger your group, the less time each person has with the controls. (Each battery takes 40 minutes to recharge, so it’s possible to recharge one while using the others, thus extending your time in the air.)
What exactly: First, a half-hour debrief. Brandon will review what the FAA says you can do and what you can’t, plus what SPJ’s ethics experts say you should do and shouldn’t. Then it’s flying time.
How exactly: Our drone pilot will show you what our Phantom 3 can do, then turn over the controls to you. If nothing else, you can create the best selfie ever. But if possible, you and/or our pilot can shoot B roll or footage for a live assignment, as long as it obeys FAA rules.
What happens after: We’ll send you the footage via Google Drive or Dropbox, or something similar. If you’re of a mind, you can buy our pilot a cheap hamburger or even just a Dr Pepper. (He likes Diet Dr Pepper, perhaps the only intelligent adult who does.)
Meet your pilot…
Brandon Ballenger has been drone-flying for two years, after attending two all-day training sessions from certified instructors and spending more time than he’d like communicating with the FAA. Since then, he’s taught high school, college, and pro journalists how to fly and shoot.
Brandon is past president of SPJ Florida and the associate editor of Debt.com, a personal finance site. His road trip through Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee is being underwritten by SPJ Florida and the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation.
Questions? Email SPJ Region 3 director Michael Koretzky.