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Knightdale man uses drone to get birds-eye view of First Night festivities

Posted January 1
Updated January 2

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— While thousands of Triangle residents watched the acorn ring in 2014 from below on Tuesday night, a Knightdale man with a five-pound flying machine got a bird's-eye view of the First Night festivities.

Marty Miller built his drone at home and brought it to Raleigh on Tuesday so it could be the first to fly over First Night. The amateur drone builder and pilot said his desire to fly over downtown Raleigh is simple. 

"I like taking video, aerial video of cool things," he said. 

Because it has six rotor blades and electric motors, Miller calls his device a "hexacopter."

"I spent about four months studying YouTube videos to learn how to make this," Miller said. "In five minutes, you can be flying and filming."

Miller says he and many of his friends have built their own drones for as little as $1,200. 

As he took in the First Night festivities on Tuesday, Miller made sure to keep his drone away from the crowds so he could use its wide-angle lens to capture the scene. He flew above downtown Raleigh buildings for about 13 minutes. 

"It does take a while to learn how to fly. I am still not the best pilot," Miller said. "I like to take it slow and easy to do the video."

Miller said his next project will be filming a Fourth of July celebration at Nags Head. 

"I just have a good time doing it," he said. "It is pretty exciting stuff."

Miller's hexacopter has a range of about 3,000 feet, but the Federal Aviation Administration has a 400-foot limit on such devices.

16 Comments

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  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Jan 3, 4:32 p.m.

    QTC - "FAA guidance says that model aircraft flights should be kept below 400 feet above ground level (AGL), should be flown a sufficient distance from populated areas and full scale aircraft, and are not for business purposes. ---Federal Register Notice - Clarification of FAA Policy (and) Advisory Circular 91-57, Model Aircraft Operating Standards

    It would be interesting to know if downtown Raleigh is considered a "populated area". :)"

    Exactly!

    It would seem what he did was illegal, and endangered all down there should it collide with a building and fall to the ground.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Jan 3, 4:31 p.m.

    Is this legal?

    How can they make sure to keep it from colliding with buildings and with helis which fly over that area, especially when news events are happening there?

  • eam Jan 3, 1:12 p.m.

    I think it's a neat concept, and it's cool that he built it himself.

    I was there on Fayetteville street for NYE and I was a little ways back from the acorn drop, I could just barely hear the music.

    The drone was actually quite distracting. It had red and green lights on it and he was flying it right behind the acorn, up and down and side to side.

  • simser118 Jan 3, 12:01 p.m.

    I actually saw this Tuesday night and was wondering what it was.
    Even commented to my wife what if that was a terrorist piloting that. even took a photo of it, now I know what it was..

  • delta29alpha Jan 3, 9:58 a.m.

    RC aircraft have been around for a long time. Heck I flew them when I was a kid. Like anything else technology has gotten better and they can now fly higher and longer. Wireless HD cameras are now so small and light weight, you can mount one on just about any RC plane or helicopter and get a pilots eye view from the ground. I guess the minute you do that it suddenly becomes a drone instead of a model plane.

  • QTC Jan 2, 4:14 p.m.

    Interesting topic, R/C'ers. FAA guidance does not address size of the model aircraft. FAA guidance says that model aircraft flights should be kept below 400 feet above ground level (AGL), should be flown a sufficient distance from populated areas and full scale aircraft, and are not for business purposes.
    ---Federal Register Notice - Clarification of FAA Policy (and)
    Advisory Circular 91-57, Model Aircraft Operating Standards

    It would be interesting to know if downtown Raleigh is considered a "populated area". :)

  • QTC Jan 2, 4:01 p.m.

    Comments noted, R/C enthusiasts. Yes, this would distract me because I would not know who launched it. So, if we see one of these things, how do we know if it is a recreational flying object or one which carries something harmful? Those who would harm us surely will embrace a technology which does not require strapping a bomb to their bodies. Now they can deliver small explosives, radiation, or germs into a crowd, and they live to fight another day. (The only downside: They don't get the 21 virgins.) :)

  • Obamacare prevails again Jan 2, 2:16 p.m.

    leo-nc, but I'm still here. :D

  • leo-nc Jan 2, 1:28 p.m.

    Criminal charges? Lord have mercy. THIS is why what used to be Golo has become a joke and all the good folks left.

  • leo-nc Jan 2, 1:27 p.m.

    QTC, your comment is just rude and ridiculous. Selfish? He shared the video did he not? Could you not see the fireworks and hear the music and the announcers? Excuse me but there is no way on earth they heard his little helicopter flying overhead. 99% of the people probably didn't even notice it. Seriously, get a clue ok?

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