New services and our first network TV show!

Happy Monday!

We're fresh off a very busy week/weekend that included wrapping up our first aerial cinematography job for a cable network TV show. We not only shot footage for the show, but our drone survey work will be featured on the show as well (and maybe a surprise guest appearance also). We'll provide more detail on when and where you can see it in a future post - stay tuned!

In other news, as those of you that follow us on social media have probably noticed, we've begun posting photos not taken by drone - like the one below.

In a logical step forward, we've decided to expand our photo and video services to include traditional, ground-based photography. This move is the perfect way of keeping with our mission to provide real value to customers as we grow and expand. Rather than having to source drone and traditional photography services separately, our customers will now be able to save time and effort by dealing with us as a one-stop shop for all their photography needs. As of now, we will continue to use DJI products for camera stabilization during video work and utilize Pentax products for still photography. Both brands fit best with our value per dollar business model.

As pointed out in prior social media posts, this new offering has already been put to use helping Central Colorado Conservancy document ranch land they're attempting to save for conservation. Keep an eye out for more traditional photography, both on our website and in our social media. We will be posting both job portfolio work and fun shots from around Colorado.

Why airspace authorizations matter to you, the customer

Take a look at this...


You're probably wondering what the absolute mess in the above picture is. Well... it is a bit of a mess. It's a sectional chart for the area of the Colorado Front Range extending from Boulder to Colorado Springs, which, thanks to DIA, also happens to be one of the busiest pieces of airspace in the country - hence all the clutter. Sectional charts are like maps of the air. If you have good enough eyes and sufficient observational powers, you've probably noticed it's very sparse on ground details. So let's get located before I try to explain anything or make a point.

Boulder is in that little red circle that's partially cut off. There's a red circle there because a temporary flight restriction (TFR) was in place at the time I took the screen shot. As mentioned in our last blog post, stadiums with a capacity of 30,000 or more people automatically become temporary restricted airspace for a 3 nautical mile radius that extends from the ground up to 3,000ft above the ground, anytime an event is in progress. This restriction applies to all aircraft, manned aircraft included, which is why it's shown so prevalently on a chart intended for use by traditional aircraft pilots. 

Denver is the large yellow blob below Boulder. This yellow area represents not just downtown Denver, but densely populated surface areas in general. As such, it extends both above and below downtown Denver to include nearly all large, surrounding towns from Broomfield all the way down to Centennial.

Colorado Springs is the smaller yellow blob towards the bottom of the map. And in between the two yellow areas, the FAA doesn't seem to think enough people live there to warrant pilots giving a bother (just kidding).

If you want to learn more about how to read sectional charts, Cessna Chick has a great post on the subject here: - which is written at a far more elementary and easy to understand level than the FAA's own educational materials. These charts are something that licensed drone operators are required to be able to read.

If you don't want to learn how to read a sectional (and I certainly can't blame you), but you still want to understand why airspace authorizations matter, here's a much simpler looking airspace map of roughly the same area:


This map is obviously infinitely easier to both get oriented on and read information that's more relevant to what I'd like to discuss: controlled airspace authorizations for commercial drone use. The large colored shapes on this map show areas of controlled airspace that extend from the ground up to various heights (the small, orange ones are heliports, prisons, power plants, and other categories that can be ignored for this topic). The prior map showed controlled airspace areas at many different altitudes, but for drone operation all that's really relevant is how airspace is classified from the 0-400ft, since that's the legal operating range for commercial drones. From the ground is the important qualification here. Each of these airspace areas are controlled and their use restricted because they surround airports and are subject to high air traffic as well as low-flying manned aircraft making approaches and departures from those airports.

Bottom line here... commercial drone operations are not permitted inside any of those large, colored shapes on the above map. This is any commercial drone operations - there are no exclusions for "well I'm not going to go too high" or "I'll stick close to this building", because this controlled airspace starts at the ground. Looking around the map, it quickly becomes obvious why this issue should be so important for a business or individual in the Front Range looking to hire a drone operator. A significant portion of the populated Front Range is covered by controlled airspace and not legal for commercial drone flights, including nearly all new development in and east of Stapleton, much of Aurora, most of Broomfield, Superior, Louisville, and northern Arvada, nearly the entirety of Centennial, Lone Tree, Castle Pines, Castle Rock, and Greenwood Village, as well as most of metro Colorado Springs. How many of your construction, development, and commercial real estate projects fall in those areas?

Thankfully, the FAA saw this potential, massive hindrance to drone operations and decided to do something about it. The FAA has setup a system that allows for licensed, commercial drone operators to apply for permission to fly in these areas. The process requires that the licensed operator:

1. Show the FAA that they have a thorough understanding of the potential hazards of operating in controlled airspace.

2. Detail a plan to maintain adequate separation with manned aircraft in order to avoid a collision.

3. Prove that the drone in use has sufficient fail-safes to avoid an incident with a manned aircraft in the case of an emergency (loss of control signal, loss of video feed, etc.)

The process is neither easy nor quick, but it is in place. An application must be approved by both the FAA and the local airport's air traffic control manager. As such, this process must be repeated for each and every area of controlled airspace. Turn around times on an approved authorization vary from 60-120 days - these are not something an operator can acquire overnight. If an operator doesn't currently have one, they won't have one for many months. If the application is denied, the operator must start from square one.

Where's the silver lining and shameless plug? Right here: we have them all. We have applied and successfully been approved for flight authorizations for every Front Range airport from Fort Collins (not on the map in this post) to Colorado Springs, including DIA itself. If you have a project that requires a drone in one of these areas, we can fly it - right now. Not in two months. Not in four months. Not today, but illegally. We are FAA approved to fly your project, anywhere in the Front Range.

Have questions or want to know more? Leave a comment, drop us an email, or feel free to call and chat.

Commonly asked questions and fun drone facts!

Now that we've officially been in business for almost a year we have noticed recurring themes when it comes to public questions about drones and the regulations that go along with them. So when we decided to add a blog to our website, it seemed only natural for our first post to address the most common questions we receive, so that you too can sound cool (or nerdy) when talking about drones! Here at Adventure UAV we fly the DJI Phantom 4 Pro so our Q&A is tailored specifically to that model. Other brands and models will have different costs and capabilities but the FAA's rules and regulations are universal throughout the USA (but local laws may vary).

1. How much did it cost?

The drone will set you back around $1500 and includes the remote and one battery. Each additional battery is about $160. The accessories are all additional.


2. How long does it fly for?

On average the batteries last around 20 minutes. If you are simply flying around for fun on a calm day you can get closer to 30 minutes. On the other hand if you are fighting the wind and shooting 4K video your battery life will be less then 20 minutes. Luckily we can watch the battery life on the monitor and the drone warns you when you are getting low. If you ignore the warning long enough the drone will return to its home point (pretty smart!) and will not let you continue manually flying until the battery is changed.


3. How high can it go?

The drone itself is limited to a height of 1600ft from its home point. That being said, federal regulations limit flying above 400ft from the ground in non-controlled (Class G) airspace. Controlled airspace is found surrounding airports, typically in a cylindrical shaped area that looks similar to an upside-down wedding cake that gets wider as it gets higher. In order to fly in these areas an authorization must be obtained (we have all of them for the Front Range from Colorado Springs to Fort Collins!) specific to the airspace in which you wish to fly. Authorizations are granted as a joint effort between the FAA and the air traffic control manager of each individual airport. As such, each authorization is unique and will contain different requirements for altitude limits, restricted areas, and notifications to air traffic control. Our authorization altitude limits vary from a height of 100ft above the ground to 200ft, depending on the airport.


4. How far can it go?

In a wide open, vast area with no cell or radio towers or interference of any kind, the drone can fly up to two miles away from the pilot before it will not have enough signal and will return. That being said, it is imperative that you have a visual on your drone at all times and even Superman would have a tough time seeing a white colored drone two miles away. The furthest we have let our drone go was a mile, but that was over wide open ranch land and at an elevation where there wouldn't be obstacles to avoid.


5. How big is it?

Its about 11” L x 11” w x 7” h. Think a large flat rate box from the post office, or two six packs of glass beer bottles side by side.


6. How long have you been flying?

Tyler has been flying for fun for nine years and commercially for about a year. He began with RC helicopters and small planes, which are much more difficult to fly then the stable and technologically advanced drones we use today.


7. Can you get some sweet footage of the Bronco's game?

Nope. Stadiums and concert venues become temporary no-fly zones any time there is a game, event, or concert. You will get into a lot of trouble flying within 3 miles of these areas when there is a TFR (temporary flight restriction) in place. In fact, these TFRs apply to manned aircraft as well. On the same topic, though not illegal (if flying for fun), it is extremely unsafe to fly a drone over any type of crowd and we at Adventure UAV always maintain a safe radius when on a job where a lot of people are present.

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Have other questions? Feel free to comment or contact us and ask!