WISH-TV launches news-gathering drone

WISH-TV Channel 8 has launched what it is calling the first news-gathering drone in Indiana.

The drone, called AVI8OR, is the first federally-sanctioned quadcopter aircraft cleared for media use in Indiana, WISH announced Tuesday.

The craft carries a high-definition camera and can be used to provide live aerial footage or gather video.

“This latest news-gathering technology breaks new ground, literally providing viewers a whole new perspective of our coverage,” WISH General Manager Les Vann said in a written statement.

Media drones must be operated by a licensed pilot along with a trained observer, WISH said. The users must pay strict adherence to Federal Aviation Administration standards and guidelines.  

Pilot Keith McCutchen, who flies Chopper 8, spent weeks training in Colorado and more time back in Indiana to learn how to control the drone.

“It required a lot of training on both the technology side as well as learning all the new FAA regulations.” McCutchen said in written comments. “I had no idea initially it would be more difficult to fly than a helicopter.”

The drone is a DJI Inspire 1 model, which provides 360-degree views, measures about 17 inches by 18 inches by 12 inches, and weighs less than 7 pounds.

Its first assignment Tuesday was to gather footage above Crown Hill National Cemetery for Veterans Day coverage.

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