Image: Vimeo screengrab
Over the past few years, we’ve gotten lovely drone-shot aerial videos of Manhattan, San Francisco, and most cities around the country. But there’s been precious little footage of Washington DC, and for good reason: While it’s legal to fly a drone anywhere else in the country, flying basically anything in the capital is illegal. In any case, one guy has been doing it anyway, and here’s the awesome footage:
It’s not the first time someone has flown a drone in DC, but the last time that happened (and was publicized), local activist Adam Eidinger (who, coincidentally, is working on marijuana legalization in the city) got a call from the Federal Aviation Administration. While the group doesn’t really have the ability to stop hobbyists from flying elsewhere in the country, with the strict no-fly laws in DC airspace, they do, according to a 2009 FAA rule:
THE FOLLOWING OPERATIONS ARE NOT AUTHORIZED WITHIN THE DC FRZ: FLIGHT TRAINING, AEROBATIC FLIGHT, PRACTICE INSTRUMENT APPROACHES, GLIDER OPERATIONS, PARACHUTE OPERATIONS, ULTRA LIGHT, HANG GLIDING, BALLOON OPERATIONS, TETHERED BALLOONS, AGRICULTURE/CROP DUSTING, ANIMAL POPULATION CONTROL FLIGHT OPERATIONS, BANNER TOWING OPERATIONS, MAINTENANCE TEST FLIGHTS, MODEL AIRCRAFT OPERATIONS, MODEL ROCKETRY, FLOAT PLANE OPERATIONS, UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS (UAS) AND AIRCRAFT/HELICOPTERS OPERATING FROM A SHIP OR PRIVATE/CORPORATE YACHT.
Despite those rules, the city has the country's largest drone hobbyist group, though all of their actual flying events take place in Maryland or Virginia. A member of that group has set up a handy map of DC's restricted fly zone (anything within the red circle is off limits):
Beyond Eidinger’s videos (including one in which he crashed and was ultimately cited for), there isn’t too much out there featuring DC, which is why it’s cool to see Viktor Mirzoyan’s beautifully shot video. Legality aside, DC is a pretty ideal city to take aerial footage in—laws that forbid skyscrapers means you get really long sight lines of the city’s wide avenues and streets. It looks like most of the footage is taken in the city’s up-and-coming Shaw Neighborhood, and it features a few “dronies” for good measure. Mirzoyan posted the video two months ago and says that, so far, there have been “no feds, no waterboarding, and no Guantanamo.”
Eidinger's videos are worth taking a look at as well—most of them were taken a couple years ago, and no offense to Eidinger, but Mirzoyan's flying skills and equipment appear to be more advanced. In any case, it's a sweet new perspective on a city we don't get to see from above very often.