Posts tagged "Kittyhawk"

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., June 6, 2018 — Kittyhawk, the enterprise drone solutions company, today announced it raised $5M in funding, bringing the company’s total capital raised to $6.5M. Kittyhawk raised the capital to further its capabilities as a full stack enterprise drone solution to empower a variety of industries already realizing value from commercial drone operations.

Jim Andelman of Bonfire Ventures, a Santa Monica-based seed fund focused on enterprise software, led the round with participation by Boeing HorizonX Ventures and Freestyle Capital; Kluz Ventures’ The Flying Object also participated as a returning investor.

“We were blown away by the quality of Kittyhawk’s enterprise customer base: Fortune 500 companies who themselves are leading the way in enterprise UAS adoption,” said Jim Andelman, Managing Partner at Bonfire Ventures, who will be joining the Kittyhawk Board of Directors. “We were impressed by not only this current level of traction but also by the team’s thoughtfulness about the coming evolution of this industry. With their degree of forethought and vision, we’re confident that Kittyhawk will be well positioned to continue to lead the way. They’re two steps ahead of how we heard everyone else thinking about this space.”

Kittyhawk recognized early on that enterprises were moving drone programs in-house and that piloting a drone would become a skill, rather than a profession. This left enterprises wanting to in-house their drone program with a big dilemma: the wide and ever-changing array of apps, license agreements, support procedures, and data security concerns of having multiple vendors.

Designed for commercial drone operations both large and small, Kittyhawk’s enterprise solution unifies the mission, the aircraft, and the data to empower companies to manage in-house commercial drone operations. From one singular platform, enterprises can manage the complexity of operators, aircraft, airspace, data analytics, insights and compliance to maximize safety and ROI.

“Kittyhawk is in the unique position of being central to all of the enterprise stakeholders — from data collectors to data consumers,” said Michael Blades, Senior Analyst at Frost & Sullivan. “Therefore, their market spans across a multitude of industries and verticals, they go deeper and wider than any other solution currently in the market”.

As a vocal advocate for the commercial drone ecosystem, Kittyhawk champions level playing fields, open standards, and responsible legislation around creating a UAS Traffic Management System (UTM). As the UTM matures, Kittyhawk will continue to work with the FAA, NASA, and Industry Trade Associations, as well as mature its product to further empower commercial customers.

“When paired with the broad portfolio of complementary data service offerings within Boeing, Kittyhawk is poised to help us shape the future of safe autonomous flight,” said Brian Schettler, Managing Director of Boeing HorizonX Ventures. “Boeing’s partnership with Kittyhawk on the FAA Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) program heralds the continued maturation of the commercial drone industry. We are excited to continue to explore new capabilities made possible through foresight, expertise and a focus on holistic solutions that support the safe integration of unmanned systems into the national airspace.”

As enterprises integrate and scale the number of drones in their workflow, they will be searching for ways to increase their oversight. Kittyhawk’s new artificial intelligence-powered feature, Hawkeye, will help fewer people manage a rapidly increasing number of flights, particularly as autonomous operations come to fruition. Kittyhawk will use the same technology that genetic researchers are using to find cures for debilitating diseases and the same technology that search engines are using to surface insights from the entirety of humanity’s knowledge base.

Kittyhawk was founded in March 2015 and is composed of top-tier talent in both the aviation and technology sectors. Since its founding, Kittyhawk has built a team that is dedicated to helping create a safety culture in the commercial drone industry and has a passion for creating delightful experiences via a “product first” methodology. It’s this methodology and culture that has allowed Kittyhawk to outmaneuver competitors and draw the attention of aviation incumbents.

DENVER, COLO., May 1, 2018 – Kittyhawk, the market leader in enterprise drone operations software, today announced a collaboration with Jeppesen, a Boeing Company, where the companies have started working toward being to offer digital airspace authorization directly from the FAA into Kittyhawk’s platform. Upon FAA approval, Kittyhawk’s elite enterprise customers will be able to receive digital authorization to operate within thousands of square miles of airspace in near-real time and will be able to send digital flight plan notifications.

Kittyhawk’s unwavering commitment to quality and utility means that this will be a Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) implementation unlike any other LAANC implementation currently on the market. Starting with their dedication to intuitive design, Kittyhawk and Jeppesen will streamline the LAANC authorization process to be as easy to use as modern drones are to fly.

Jeppesen and Kittyhawk’s combined capabilities will deliver industry-leading navigation data from Jeppesen and UAS platform operations management from Kittyhawk, to simplify commercial drone operations. As a global leader in aviation services, Jeppesen provides long-standing experience and credibility to fortify a disruptive, early stage company in Kittyhawk.

“We’re approaching LAANC as more than just a faster authorization, but a critical piece to an effective drone operation,” said Jon Hegranes, CEO of Kittyhawk. “Real-time authorization without real-time visibility, enforcement, or compliance leaves more problems than solutions for commercial operators.”

Over the coming months, the FAA will release over 2,000 square miles of new airspace for drones to fly in densely populated areas and near airports. This new airspace will be a boon to the commercial drone industry and enable more flights than ever before. Some of Kittyhawk’s enterprise customers estimate that they will be able to fly up to twice as many flights with LAANC versus what had been an up to 90-day manual authorization process.

“This strategic alliance with Kittyhawk will help us gain a strong foothold in the dynamic and expanding UAV/drone market for commercial operations,” said Mike Abbott, director, Jeppesen Data Solutions. “Eliminating manual processes through data-driven navigation and LAANC operations management matches perfectly with our dedication to simplifying complex procedures in traditional aviation fields and we look forward to exciting new developments with our Kittyhawk relationship, moving forward.”

Kittyhawk plans to start deploying LAANC to enterprise customers in the coming weeks and will have a full deployment available to the public shortly after. Kittyhawk and Jeppesen will continue to work together to safely empower the commercial drone industry with more flight opportunities.

Looking ahead, LAANC is just the beginning of larger unmanned traffic management (UTM) objectives that Kittyhawk and Jeppesen have the opportunity to explore as the national airspace evolves.

About Jeppesen

For more than 80 years, Jeppesen has made it possible for pilots and their passengers to safely and efficiently reach their destinations. Today, this pioneering spirit continues as Jeppesen delivers transformative information and optimization solutions to improve the efficiency of air operations around the globe. Jeppesen is a Boeing subsidiary and part of the Digital Aviation and Analytics business unit within Boeing Global Services. Boeing offers the industry’s largest portfolio of services, support and solutions, providing customers a competitive advantage by solving real operational problems, enabling better decisions, maximizing efficiency and improving environmental performance – intelligent information solutions across the entire aviation ecosystem.

About Kittyhawk

Kittyhawk unifies the mission, aircraft, and data to empower safe and effective drone operations. Based in San Francisco, the company develops real-time flight operations and management solutions for professional pilots and fleet managers across a multitude of missions. Established industry leaders in media, insurance, oil and gas, rail transportation, as well as education, law enforcement, fire and emergency management agencies around the world all rely on Kittyhawk for their end-to-end drone operations. Discover more at https://kittyhawk.io

What is LAANC?

Aviation is full of acronyms, and there’s no better example than LAANC — or Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability. LAANC was developed over the last year in a collaboration with government and private industry to open the national airspace to drone operators, replacing a ~90-day manual process to receive authorization to fly in controlled airspace, down to seconds via an API. This is a critical step in evolving the airspace and automating processes, without sacrificing safety for manned or unammned flights.

What LAANC really means for commercial drone operators is a quick and unambiguous method to request flight authorizations in controlled airspace. The FAA has essentially replaced a blackbox method that took months to a precise method that happens immediately. For commercial pilots, the airspace will start to look a lot different.

Replacing swaths of no fly zones with readily accessible controlled airspace.

Since our founding, we’ve been a strong advocate for the advancement and openness of our industry, highlighted by our focus on making LAANC available in the open market. That day is just around the corner, as the FAA will begin rolling out LAANC to different regions beginning April 30th in the South Central region and culminating in the Central North region in September. Many of our customers estimate that they’ll be able to double the number of commercial flights they can do nationally once the LAANC rollout is complete. Based on the numbers below, we think those bullish views underestimate the actual potential.

LAANC will not be impactful purely through speed. Vast amounts of previously onerous airspace will become accessible across the National Airspace.

We’re excited at the opportunity that authorization wait times in seconds instead of months for authorizations will bring to the commercial drone industry once LAANC is rolled out across all major regions by the Fall of 2018. However, once we started analyzing the numbers, it became clear the largest impact isn’t speed. It’s area. And that’s even more exciting.

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SAN FRANCISCO – March 5, 2018 – Kittyhawk, the market leader in commercial drone operations software, today announced a comprehensive set of new features for its best-in-class platform. Kittyhawk is introducing secure multi-party, multi-channel video and audio streaming, native UAS Facility Maps, new notification and telemetry sharing options with a focus on enhanced security and visibility.

Multi-party, multi-channel audio and video supports unlimited concurrent streams with up to 50 simultaneous participants per stream. Multiple operators can collaborate in real time from any location in the world utilizing a smartphone or tablet. Pilots can select stream quality preferences (480p, 720p, 1080p) or just set to “Auto” to optimize for the device and local data speed. In addition, broadcast display options can stream either a “heads-up display” to view flight information or simply stream the camera view with no additional layers. Enterprise customers can see who on their team is broadcasting a live stream, switch between streams like channels on television, and even see which of their other team members are watching the stream in case they need to ask them questions.

Law enforcement can now have access to multiple vantage points of a situation and inspectors can have uninterrupted views on critical pieces of equipment. The ability to change a vantage point in milliseconds from thousands of miles away, all while being in communication with the pilots makes for a potent combination.

New UAS Facility Maps show the maximum altitudes around airports where the FAA may authorize Part 107 UAS operations without additional safety analysis. The maps should be used to inform requests for part 107 airspace authorizations and waivers in controlled airspace. There are nearly 500 airports with published FAA Facility Maps that will come online at the completion of the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) pilot program. These maps remove ambiguity on whether or not a flight could be approved, whether with LAANC or manual authorizations. Each of the facility squares are color coded according to the maximum altitude allowed, or flight ceiling. Now, users have a beautiful, intuitive flight planning map available to them for all of the current and future LAANC compatible sites.

“As the FAA is completing the LAANC pilot program, we thought it was important for Kittyhawk to continue leading the charge for private industry to support their efforts with our products. These new maps add clarity and transparency from what was relatively opaque data,” said Joshua Ziering, Founder & Chief Pilot.

Kittyhawk’s new telemetry-sharing options add greater control with a focus on security and visibility. Enterprise teams now have three new options for how telemetry is viewed within an organization, within the Kittyhawk platform, and across the national airspace via industry partners.

First, the Private (Team Only) option allows only the members within your team to view live telemetry, both from the app and the web. Second, the Kittyhawk UTM option shares anonymized information and telemetry of live flights to improve airspace awareness and deconfliction. Third, Kittyhawk Extended shares flight information to third parties like airports, schools or AirMap, for example, as well as within the Kittyhawk UTM.

In addition to enhanced telemetry controls,  Flight Deck now includes DJI’s Local Data Mode. DJI recently implemented this feature in its flight controller and SDKs to help address security concerns about sensitive data unintentionally going to DJI and/or China. With this enabled, there is no communication at all with DJI. Even with Local Data Mode enabled, Kittyhawk connections, telemetry, and data flow are not affected.

“The common theme across each of these announcements is they empower enterprise teams to thrive and scale. Beautiful products with real-time data streams in a secure environment enable companies’ drone operations to grow and their utilization of Kittyhawk to evolve,” said Jon Hegranes, Founder & CEO.

About Kittyhawk

Kittyhawk unifies the mission, aircraft, and data to empower safe and effective drone operations. Based in San Francisco, the company develops real-time flight operations and management solutions for professional pilots and fleet managers across a multitude of missions. Established industry leaders in media, insurance, oil and gas, rail transportation, as well as education, law enforcement, fire and emergency management agencies around the world all rely on Kittyhawk for their end-to-end drone operations. Discover more at https://kittyhawk.io

Consumer Electronics Show, LAS VEGAS – January 8, 2018 – Kittyhawk, the market leader in commercial drone operations software, today announced new features to its best-in-class platform. Kittyhawk is adding an automated flight system to their Flight Deck feature set to work in conjunction with its recently released secure live streaming feature.

The new automation features allow operators to plan missions in the Kittyhawk mobile application and then execute the entire flight from takeoff to landing with unlimited waypoints. Like all Kittyhawk features, great care has been taken to create a safe and useful user experience. The app has incorporated safety features to ensure that operators are not able to initiate an automated flight to a place beyond the range of the radio and drone; like trying to launch a mission in California when you’re currently in New York. The Kittyhawk software uses the geolocation of the operator to show only flights that are possible to complete — avoiding potentially expensive and dangerous mistakes.

“Enterprise customers are constantly asking the Kittyhawk platform to do more and more across the entire workflow,”  said Jon Hegranes, Co-Founder and CEO of Kittyhawk. “The addition of automated flights coupled with encrypted live audio and video streaming further validates our industry-leading market share.”

Working in conjunction with select enterprise customers, Kittyhawk’s automated flight system is the perfect compliment to their recently released multi-channel secure live video and  audio streaming feature. For example, a law enforcement customer can set the drone to fly the perimeter of a scene and their entire team can securely access a video feed right from their mobile devices and give audio feedback to the operator in real time. A filmmaker can set a path perfectly parallel to a bridge and get that perfect shot with an absolutely consistent speed and altitude. The opportunities are endless.

“Automated flights are the first step in an exciting roadmap of new features for the enterprise team in 2018. We’ve been working closely with our industry-leading enterprise customers to really understand their challenges and we are excited about the solutions Kittyhawk is delivering to them.” Says Josh Ziering, Co-Founder and Chief Pilot.

These new features join the long list of industry-leading pre-flight, inflight and post-flight features including weather forecasting, risk assessments, flight profiles, live air traffic, secure data encryption, secure domestic cloud storage and much more.

About Kittyhawk

Kittyhawk unifies the mission, aircraft, and data to empower safe and effective drone operations. Based in San Francisco, the company develops real-time flight operations and management solutions for professional pilots and fleet managers across a multitude of missions. Established industry leaders in media, insurance, oil and gas, rail transportation, as well as education, law enforcement, fire and emergency management agencies around the world all rely on Kittyhawk for their end-to-end drone operations. Discover more at https://kittyhawk.io

SAN FRANCISCO – December 5, 2017 – Kittyhawk, the leader in commercial drone operations and management, today announced Flight Profiles,  a key new feature to its expanding enterprise platform. After collaborating with customers, it became clear that as more organizations teams leave the “freelancer” or “contractor” model and begin to train more employees to fly, that a set of “common-sense” presets was necessary to help further reduce risk and empower their workforce.

Kittyhawk Flight Profiles allow fleet operations managers and Chief Pilots to automatically set and enforce a set of flight standards across their teams. Profiles can be set to prevent take-offs in “Attitude Mode,” set a standard “Return To Home” (RTH) Height, and restrict power exhaustion behaviors like Return To Home or Land In Place. Kittyhawk Flight Profiles can also set limits to how high and how far a drone can fly, ensuring compliance with FAA and internal company standards.

In addition, Flight Profiles provides greater transparency into the status of the aircraft’s control system before a flight. No longer will pilots have to contend with indistinguishable “ERROR” messages and will instead see the part of the flight control system that’s not functioning correctly and be able to make informed decisions about how to proceed.

Team leaders can now offer their members a set of policies designed to set them up for success. Operators get the benefit of uniformity in their operations with easy to implement settings that start with common-sense presets.

Flight Profiles is the latest in a suite of new features Kittyhawk has added to a  platform designed specifically for the enterprise. As the leading enterprise drone solution, Kittyhawk works with customers across a wide range of industries including railroads, insurance, media, and inspection services.

Flight Profiles are available for Enterprise customers today. If you’d like to set up a custom profile for your team, let one of our friendly support staff know, and we can start disseminating that to your team’s accounts.

To learn more about Kittyhawk Flight Profiles, view this short YouTube video:

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To learn more about Kittyhawk’s Enterprise solution for drone operations feel free to contact us: https://kittyhawk.io/contact-us

About Kittyhawk

Kittyhawk unifies the mission, aircraft, and data to empower safe and effective drone operations. Based in San Francisco, the company develops real-time flight operations and management solutions for professional pilots and fleet managers across a multitude of missions. Leading businesses and organizations in media, insurance, oil and gas, education, law enforcement, fire and emergency management all rely on Kittyhawk for their end-to-end drone operations. Discover more at https://kittyhawk.io

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Denver, CO, Nov 8, 2017 — Kittyhawk, the drone operations platform that unifies the mission, aircraft, and data, today announced a suite of new features for it’s Flight Deck platform. True to form, these new features continue to unify and enable commercial teams to work more collaboratively. Kittyhawk’s Flight Deck platform, an enterprise-focused piloting platform for DJI hardware, now features real-time aircraft telemetry for the whole team with real-time video and audio streams.

Flight Deck’s aircraft tracking enables managers and team leaders to see where their team is flying in real time on gorgeous maps from their mobile device or from Kittyhawk’s robust web application. “In the old days, fleet managers and Chief Pilots had to rely on written reports to see where and how their pilots flew last month or last quarter,” said Jon Hegranes, Co-Founder and CEO of Kittyhawk. “Today, compliance and collaboration happens in near-real-time.”

Real time telemetry is part of a rapidly growing suite of features designed to increase transparency for teams of operators flying in a multitude of locations. Kittyhawk’s enterprise customers are making use of this technology to manage teams of hundreds of people flying hundreds of times per day. Kittyhawk’s platform allows enterprise teams to elegantly scale their drone operations as they grow — something no other player in the industry does with such ease.

In conjunction with the new aircraft tracking feature inside of Kittyhawk Flight Deck, the company is also announcing secure live streaming of video and audio. Now, any member of the team can start flying a DJI drone and securely share the video feed with anyone else on the team, straight to their mobile device, no matter where in the world they happen to be.

Flight Deck’s new streaming functionality also includes a Common Traffic Advisory Frequency-like (CTAF) feature so anyone watching the stream can talk in real-time to anyone else watching or flying. Team members can now seamlessly communicate to the pilot and each other to gather and share insights — be it incident command at a fire, or subject matter experts viewing live video of machinery half a world away.

Flight Deck’s aircraft tracking feature  is available today to all 54,000 Kittyhawk users. Video streaming is available for select Kittyhawk Enterprise customers and will be rolled out more broadly in 2018.

About Kittyhawk

Kittyhawk unifies the mission, aircraft and data to empower safe and effective drone operations. Based in San Francisco, the company develops real-time flight operations and management solutions for professional pilots and fleet managers across a multitude of missions. Leading companies and organizations in media, insurance, oil and gas, education, law enforcement, fire and emergency management all trust Kittyhawk for their end-to-end drone operations. Discover more at https://kittyhawk.io.

San Francisco, California – October 2, 2017 – Kittyhawk, the platform that unifies the mission, aircraft, and data to empower safe and effective drone operations, today announced a core new Risk Assessment system and workflow developed in collaboration with CNN Air to further enhance the company’s commitment to safe and compliant drone operations for commercial teams and enthusiasts alike.

Having a record of the risk assessment for the mission, state of the pilot, state of the aircraft, airspace surroundings, and flight conditions are invaluable data points to accompany pilot checklists and flight logs, especially to analyze any unforeseen events post mission.

“Companies need a clean, standardized method to approve flights and plan their missions,” says Jon Hegranes, CEO & Co-Founder of Kittyhawk. “Kittyhawk Risk Assessments leverage data that Kittyhawk already knows about the pilot, conditions, and location, giving operators a new level of quantifiable awareness to their upcoming flights.”

Similar to traditional log books or spreadsheets, previous risk assessment procedures have been informal, with unstructured qualitative data. Kittyhawk Risk Assessments formalizes this procedure by assigning risk scores and recording the conditions and circumstances surrounding a mission and flight.

A highly requested feature from both individual pilots and commercial teams, Kittyhawk Risk Assessments are based on a scoring system utilizing predictive analytics of prior pilot missions and upcoming flight condition data. Kittyhawk Risk Assessments comprise two elements: 1)  Initial Risk Assessment, designed to be initiated in the planning phase of a mission to help Chief Pilots gauge the risk of the mission and assess if different pilots or aircraft may be needed given the circumstances, and 2) Preflight Risk Assessment, designed to be taken immediately before takeoff and takes into account more real-time data around airspace and weather, as well as pilot health and well being.

Available now for all premium customers, Kittyhawk Risk Assessments reinforce the company’s commitment to enabling safe and compliant operations for its operators, from the individual pilot to the largest commercial fleets in operation today.

Kittyhawk will be exhibiting at Drone World Expo booth #411 and Co-Founder Joshua Ziering will be hosting a panel discussion titled “Profit and Safety – Fast Friends or Bitter Enemies” on Wednesday October 4 at 2:45pm in the Room 1 (210E). To schedule a demo contact robert@kittyhawk.io or simply stop by our booth.

About Kittyhawk

Kittyhawk unifies the mission, aircraft and data to empower safe and effective drone operations. Based in San Francisco, the company develops real-time flight operations and management solutions for professional pilots and fleet managers across a multitude of missions. Leading companies and organizations in media, insurance, oil and gas, education, law enforcement, fire and emergency management all rely on Kittyhawk for their end-to-end drone operations. Discover more at https://kittyhawk.io.

A cold westerly wind was blowing at us 11 stories above San Francisco on a rooftop that Kittyhawk sometimes uses for its flight testing. On this particular Friday Fly Day, our weekly Kittyhawk event to make sure that our code and flying skills are working in unison, as we were continuing to test the newly released DJI Spark with our Flight Deck feature.

Shortly after takeoff, a familiar voice parroted a warning from the phone:

“Attitude Mode, Attitude Mode.”

The drone that just seconds ago was leaning precariously into the wind, locked in place, started to move down wind at an alarming rate. As the VO (visual observer), I made sure to note the drone’s orientation as I saw it starting to slide away from us. I asked my Co-Founder Jon, the pilot in command, if he was ok flying in attitude mode.

“What’s attitude mode?! It’s not listening to what I’m telling it.”

I could hear panic was setting in as his expectations stopped matching reality.

The worst time to learn about a failure mode is after your aircraft has already entered it. For whatever reason, the tiny drone had lost its connection to both GPS and GLONASS and was unable to determine it’s position in space. Attitude mode means that it was only able to control its roll, pitch and yaw relative to the ground because it’s relying solely on it’s internal gyros for information. It was completely at the mercy of the wind and the control inputs of the pilot.

Since the aircraft wasn’t able to determine where it was on the earth, it couldn’t perform a return to home. Often times, pilots can refer to this as a “fly away.” A loss of navigation doesn’t seem dire unless you’ve come to depend on navigation to always be there. Many drone pilots have never flown in any other mode besides GPS mode.

As the aircraft got smaller and smaller, I took over the controls and used the iPhone’s video feed to verify that my mental orientation matched the aircraft’s orientation and started the journey back upwind to land back on our roof.

Understanding failure or diminished capability modes is an important part of drone operations. If you haven’t flown in attitude mode, or “ATTI Mode”, there a few tips and tricks that can help you learn faster and without breaking anything.

First, pick a day with little to no wind. This will give you a sense of how the aircraft is going to fly without GPS to guide it. As you gain confidence, fly in higher and higher winds. One thing that you’ll notice is that you’ll have to give inputs to stop the aircraft from flying in a direction it previously was and you’ll have to compensate for the direction the wind is blowing. Instead of the aircraft just “leaning” into the wind, you’ll have to hold the stick to compensate for the wind.

Depending on the conditions, you might find that your control inputs are unable to overcome the wind. This is because the software is capable of giving more control input to the aircraft to keep it stable than it allows the pilot too. In the event you find yourself in heavy wind, you may need to enable “sport mode” or “expert mode” to have the necessary control authority to travel back up wind.

Second, bring a safety pilot. Someone who is comfortable with a variety of aircraft and doesn’t mind flying in all sorts of modes and orientations. Have them shadow you so that if there is a problem, they can take over the controls. On that note, practice passing the controls back and forth a few times while the aircraft is still on the ground. A little practice will make sure that you can keep looking at the aircraft while passing over the controls — particularly with the larger control systems coming into favor.

From there, you can keep practicing in more and more challenging conditions. Try having your safety pilot put the drone in an odd orientation while you close your eyes. Then you need to orient it and return it to your location.

It’s important to understand what’s happening, why it’s happening, and how it will affect your drone so that the next time you unexpectedly hear “ATTITUDE MODE” you can say, “Don’t worry, I got this.”

What if you had the chance to film something 55 miles wide traveling just over Mach 3 with your drone? As it turns out, on August 21st 2017, you’ll have that very opportunity. A solar eclipse, or alignment of the sun, moon and earth, is taking place for the first time in 38 years. The last cosmic event of this magnitude happened on February 26, 1979 — a time long before you could use the battery powered supercomputer in your pocket to fly a self-stabilizing GPS guided aircraft with a 4k camera using a high bandwidth spread spectrum wireless control system. Sheesh, drones sound so impressive when you describe them like that.

We expect a very large number of drones taking to the skies during this historical event –  so we’ve compiled a state by state list of the best places to fly in areas that will get a full eclipse as well as some of the consideration involved if you’ll be flying commercially. (The title of Chief Pilot doesn’t come easy around here.)

A Word On Safety

A solar eclipse is a beautiful event but it comes with it’s own set of safety considerations. As with any mission, thorough planning and pre-flight is going to pay dividends in safety. Remember that in addition to the hostile environment, you might be contending with people nearby, unfamiliar surroundings, and strange flight conditions. Whether you’re flying commercially or as a hobbyist, you’ll still want to follow FAA guidelines and consider things like “flying at night” even when its high noon.

Also, no mission is worth losing your eye sight over. A solar eclipse can leave you visually impaired or blind for the rest of your life from even a brief glimpse at the sun. Make sure you and your visual observer both take the necessary precautions. NASA has a great web page on Eclipse Safety available to you here. 

Oregon: Always too cool before it’s cool.

If you want to be the absolute first person to get footage of the shadow, the first land based point of contact with the path of totality (the shadow of the moon on the earth) will be at Lincoln Beach, Oregon at 9:05 a.m. PST. Even the planets know that if you want to be cool before it’s cool you start in Oregon.

Unfortunately, Lincoln Beach often suffers the same visibility problems that plague many coastal areas, particularly earlier in the day. If you don’t want to roll the dice, you’re better off moving inland where the chance for marine layer visual obscuration is much lower. If you’re flying commercially, remember that FAA Part 107 requires a minimum of 3 miles of visibility unless you have a waiver. Also remember that Oregon requires a separate registration for UAS (More on that below.)

Over 90 minutes the path of totality will run through Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and North and South Carolina. The total eclipse will end near Charleston, South Carolina at 2:48 p.m. EST.

For detailed flight conditions and local rules for each state, continue reading below.

Oregon

 

As mentioned above, Oregon has some pretty stuffy drone rules. They require any commercial aircraft (Even UAS to register) if they’re operating in Oregon. Here’s a link to the Oregon website for that: http://www.oregon.gov/aviation/Pages/index.aspx

Coastal areas of Portland are also notorious for their poor visibility and relatively frigid summer temperatures. It’s not exactly a sure bet for making sure you get once in a lifetime footage.

Many of the places defined as “the best” the watch the Eclipse from are the beautiful Oregon State Parks. While National Parks have a clear policy on drones, Oregon State Parks do not. It would be prudent to check in advance with the park officials you’re looking to fly in to make sure they allow drones.

WARNINGS: Visibility

Idaho

Best Spots

Idaho Falls and Rexburg will experience a total eclipse of 1 minute 46 seconds and 2 minutes 17 seconds respectively. Unfortunately, Idaho Falls is almost all Class E airspace to the ground. However, the neighboring town of Mitchell has beautifully clear airspace and skies, which has been described by EclipseMobile.com http://eclipsophile.com/idaho/ as an “exceptionally cloud-free environment of the Columbia Basin.”

If you’re looking for somewhere you can camp, Smith’s Ferry Idaho has an entire event planned and they lie just outside of any nearby airspace. They also have a huge open field that’s likely to compete with just about any map on any flight simulator out there for “gorgeous points.”

WARNINGS: Air Density

Wyoming

 

Wyoming has no state specific drone laws to be weary of. (Though, they’ve tried and failed 4x to set up some state specific legislation that would likely be very damaging to the commercial drone industry there.)

Best Spots

Casper

Casper is a town of almost 60,000 people that has quite a bit of uncontrolled airspace. When the team was researching places to fly, all of us were extremely impressed at their Eclipse Festival Website. Even if you’re not going to Casper for the big day, make sure you check out their website which is full of fun facts and even some beautiful drone shots of the North Platte River. http://eclipsecasper.com/

Guernsey

WARNINGS:Air Density

Montana

 

No drone laws applied to civilians. Only law enforcement.

Only a small portion of Montana is going to be within the Umbral Shadow and unfortunately that portion is in a very inaccessible and uninhabited part of Montana. You’re much better off making the trip to Idaho or Wyoming to see the eclipse.

Nebraska

No specific state laws but the state capital has some restrictions you might need to be aware of. The state capital has released an operations guide you’ll need to adhere to in addition to Part 107.

Best Spots

A very long stretch of Interstate 80 from before North Platte to the edges of Lincoln is within the path of totality. Lincoln has a phenomenal page with lots of information about how to enjoy the eclipse there. Lincoln proudly touts their 125 neighborhood parks or 131 miles of trails. Learn more: http://www.lincoln.org/play/eclipse

One important note is that Lincoln has a baseball team, The Lincoln Salt Dogs, and they will be playing during the solar eclipse. As with any professional sporting event, this means an implied 2 mile TFR around the stadium. Even though it’s not indicated on this map, you’ll want to be cognizant of that and respectful of it.

WARNINGS: Airspace Restrictions

Iowa

 

If you’re looking for a good spot to watch in Iowa, your options are unfortunately very limited. Iowa is getting the smallest sliver of the eclipse in the US. Moreover, the only part of Iowa that’s going to be able to view the eclipse is not accessible by roads.

Best Spots Nearby

St. Joseph, Mo., is 2 1/2 hours from Des Moines, Iowa. St. Joseph is the fifth-largest city in the eclipse path.

Kansas

 

If you are harassing/stalking someone while trying to get your eclipse footage, you stand to get in some trouble. Whether or not filming an eclipse could be considered harassment is unfortunately up to some interpretation.

Best Spots

Hiawatha, KS

In and around Hiawatha there is plenty of Class G airspace you can fly in and from the looks of it, a lot of enthusiastic Eclipser’s looking to revel in the shadow. You can learn more about Brown County’s plans and what’s happening in Hiawatha here: https://www.facebook.com/BrownCountyBlackout/

There are plenty of spots along I-70 on either the west or east side of Kansas City that would prove ideal for a little flying and filming.

Missouri

No prohibitive local drone laws for people trying to capture some footage.

Best Spots

Chesterfield

Chesterfield will provide ample places to operate from. All along Interstate 64 will be in the shadow and has ample opportunities. Chesterfield is a neighboring city to St. Louis.

Kirkwood

Kirkwood has lots of Class G airspace and is far from any airports around. Kirkwood is also home to lots of beautiful parks that may serve as a great place to operate from as long as you’re not flying over people. The Kirkwood MO website lists no regulations or rules about operating sUAS out of their parks. http://www.kirkwoodmo.org/content/1814/parks.aspx

Illinois

 

State Drone Laws: No laws affecting civilian or commercial operators.

Best Spots:

Waterloo, IL (Monroe County Fairgrounds)

All of Waterloo, IL is in Class G airspace and they don’t have any local ordinances prohibiting the operation of sUAS aircraft. Their municipal website has a lot of information on what’s going on and how you can be apart of it! http://www.waterloo.il.us/

Makanda, IL (Blue Sky Vineyard, Rated 4.6/5 by Zagats)

NASA has calculated that the longest point of duration for viewing the 2017 eclipse is in Illinois near this beautiful winery. As a drone pilot, it’s hard not to like a place called Blue Sky Vineyard. As a fans of irony, it’s hard not to like watching a total solar eclipse at a place called Blue Sky Vineyard. Here’s a link to their event page: http://www.blueskyvineyard.com/events2/

Kentucky

State Drone Laws: No state laws to note.

Best Spot

Paducah KY

Tennessee

 

TN has some dubious sounding drone laws. For example, you can take pictures or video “With the consent of the individual who owns or lawfully occupies the real property captured in the image” … So maybe best to call ahead and make sure you’re doing the right thing.

Nashville is going to be in the path totality and will be a good place if you can find some uncontrolled airspace. However, it seems like it’s going to be pretty busy.

Georgia

 

State Drone Laws: No state specific laws, but some minor resolutions.

Best Spots

North Carolina

 

Best Spot

South Carolina

No state level drone laws have been passed in South Carolina.

Best Spot

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston is our pick for the best spot in South Carolina. The Charleston Harbor provides plenty of room to operate and resides squarely in Class G airspace. Not to mention the breathtaking views of the bridge and water that are possible.

In addition to being the last possible place to see the eclipse on land, Charleston has a wide variety of places to operate from and has a very conducive climate for operating drones in the summer time.

To Clear Skies and Safe Landings!

The solar eclipse promises to be a show from the ground or the air. Remember, there are going to be a lot of people trying to enjoy the eclipse that aren’t familiar with drones. An operator that is respectful is a good ambassador for our burgeoning industry.

Special Thanks “Thank You” to AirMap and Jonathan Rupprecht for his useful state-by-state collection of drone laws.