Monarchs hit the sky with drones

Valley’s football team is using a drone to record practice for its second year.


By Harrison McQuinn, Sports Editor


Monarchs football has been filming its practices from above thanks to Offensive Coordinator Jason Vandiver and former Sports Information Director Dale Beck who have offered their personal drones.

Valley started using the devices to record practices only last year following in the footsteps of NFL and Division I football teams. The use of the drones came with hesitation and regulation, because the gadget can be a huge liability.

“It’s like the Skycam of the NFL,” said Vandiver.

The drones have been a significant upgrade to practice playbacks for Valley which previously relied on only two outdated cameras on either side of the field. Vandiver also offers his GoPro and camera glasses to the team, which does not have the extra budget for new equipment on top of the all the transportation and referee fees.

The aerial shot allows better angles of the players’ leverage, routes, and footing.

“The cool part is we use it to film all 22 angles,” Vandiver added about the ability to record every player on offense and defense.

When reaching heights of 80 feet with a $500 piece of metal, you have to account for weather, birds, and signal interruption to name a few, all while avoiding the people below.

If another person is flying their drone in the same area as you, there can be a crossover of signals which causes you to lose control of the device. Flying too close to metal structures like Valley’s South Gym can cause the same disorienting effect.

“It’s trial by fire,” said Beck on learning how to use the contraption.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recognizes the danger of drones, citing almost 600 instances of misuse in 2016. The FAA has restricted altitudes higher than 400 feet and banned use over crowds.

Drones are still relatively new, with new models coming out every day. The machine can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to over $1000.

A one hour charge will keep the drones up for about 22 minutes. If connection is disrupted or battery is low, the gizmo will fly itself back to the homing mark, as designated by the pilot.

The technology is only being utilized for the football team this semester, but other teams such as men’s baseball have already reached out to Dale for future use.

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