WFLA-TV, News Channel 8, says it has become the first news station in the Tampa Bay, Fla., viewing area to receive a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) commercial drone exemption for newsgathering.
The station says it is deploying the aircraft, dubbed “Drone 8,” to broadcast live footage and enhance coverage. Peter Bernard, a veteran reporter of the station and a certified pilot, will operate the DJI Inspire 1 unmanned aircraft system. WFLA notes that it will also implement a trained observer, per FAA safety requirements.
WFLA News Channel 8, an NBC affiliate since 1955, provides programming to viewers in the Tampa-St. Petersburg (Sarasota) designated market area, which encompasses 10 counties.
“This drone is going to allow our viewers to see news from a unique advantage point that has not been possible up to this point,” says Bernard.
Bill Berra, News Channel 8’s vice president of news, says, “We’re the first TV station in Tampa Bay to be licensed for using a drone. Our viewers will benefit from the perspective of our unique drone footage, along with that of our new Eagle 8 HD helicopter. It can’t get any more exciting than that.”