For Kevin Schmidt, climbing a 1500 feet (roughly 450 meters) television tower is like just another day in the “office”. He actually does it several times a day. The now defunct tv tower is now only a hazard to air traffic in the great plains of South Dakota. Specially if it’s unlit, so regular maintenance and changing of the lightbulbs is an FAA requirement. And that is what Kevin takes care of.
He’s done it thousands of times, but one if his November ascents made it to the top of the charts because Prairie Aerial, a company addressing itself as “the premier professional aerial photography and videography outfit in the Great Plains region of the United States” used a multicopter to document the job.
Prairie Aerial has produced several other drone videos, but none have made as big of a splash as the one titled “1500′ TV Tower.” It was posted on YouTube in November, but it’s only realized its viral potential this week. On Sunday, the drone video of Schmidt’s lightbulb change had around 250,000 views. As of Tuesday morning, that number had eclipsed 600,000.
The success has caught Todd Thorin, the director of the video, off guard. Thorin, who runs Prairie Aerial with his sons, said he knew he might have something special when a bootlegged version of the drone video was posted on Facebook and amassed more than 600,000 views in less than 48 hours.
“At that point, we freaked out and went, ‘Whoa!'” he told CNNMoney.
After that, Thorin took control of their drone video and assigned a company to manage the rights. View count is reaching 900.000 views at the time of this post and still growing steadily.
I hope that Thorin and his team does not have to face scrutiny from the FAA as it deems all flights above 400 feet illegal. Preliminary regulations for small drone operations were due to be announced last month, but the FAA missed the deadline that one of their officials confirmed. As the general expectations is for the FAA to require training similar to what is need to fly a manned aircraft, anyone wanting to fly commercially will have a much larger barrier of entry. But let’s hope that great aerial moments like this one will still be possible. Enjoy and don’t try this at “home” yet!
Love it when he casually takes a selfie at 1:29 :).