In 2015, FOX21 News launched the first federally-sanctioned drone aircraft cleared for media use in the state of Colorado.
We did so with the goal of being extremely responsible with the new newsgathering tool. To this day we continue to remain diligent in following rules, set internally, to keep the public safe.
We also are extremely sensitive to flying over active investigations or active scenes. We always ask for permission before flying over private property or a fire scene.
On Wednesday, we approached Sheriff Bill Elder and asked if we could fly our drone over the 117 Fire in El Paso County to show the expanse of the burn scar. He asked us politely to refrain from doing so. We honored his request and did not fly.
Thursday, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office tweeted that air operations helping to put the fire out were postponed due to a media drone flying in the area. This was not the SKYFOX21 drone. We take the responsibility of having a drone very seriously and would not irresponsibly fly when asked not to.
The pilot that flies our drone is a fully-trained FAA commercial pilot. Since 2015, the rules have changed surrounding drone use and television stations. You no longer need a commercial pilot to fly. You can simply train any employee to fly the drone and they can obtain a drone license.
Here at FOX21, we have retained our commercial pilot. We do so for many reasons, one of which is his knowledge of flying and his relationship with the FAA.
Over the last day or so, we have received questions from viewers asking why we haven’t flown our drone over the fire. Hopefully this should answer those questions.
While we absolutely see the drone as a wonderful newsgathering tool, we also understand our duty to be respectful when using it.