Drone Films Tower Climber Up 1,500 Feet in South Dakota

Posted by Betsy Lillian on January 06, 2015 1 Comment

Aerial photography and videography provider Prairie Aerial has used an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to capture the mesmerizing view of a man changing the lightbulb of a structure 1,500 feet off the ground.

The company filmed and posted to YouTube a video of the tower climber reaching the top of a TV analog broadcast antenna in South Dakota, according to the description. The footage, featuring the man nonchalantly scaling the tower, offers a view of the surrounding land for miles.

When probed about the recklessness of the UAV operation (far surpassing the 400-foot rule set by the Federal Aviation Administration), Prairie Aerial writes in a comment that because manned aircraft cannot fly within 500 feet of the structure, it was safe to fly the UAV in the space – “for the same reason it is clear to operate up to 400′ above ground – no interference with normal aircraft.”

The company writes, “We were not in compliance with the letter of the law, but with the spirit of the law.” They also note that they maintained a line of sight and planned the operations in advance: i.e., the “climber was aware and prepared.”

As for the operation being considered “commercial,” Prairie Aerial explains that they uploaded this footage without knowing in advance that it would become such a hit and, therefore, did not know they would end up profiting from the over 700,000 YouTube views, as of Jan. 6.

Prairie Aerial’s video can be viewed here.

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