In a collaboration with Analog Motorcycles and Whiplash Racing Media, Salzmoto volunteered some aerial videography for a terrific recap video of this year’s Motoblot motorcycle street festival. We’ve shared that video on BEHIND THE MOTO as a piece of bonus content.

Check it out: Analog Motorcycle’s Motoblot Video — BEHIND THE MOTO

Part of the challenge for capturing an event like this from the air is safety. Both the AMA Safety Code (which we adhere to) and the upcoming FAA rules for commercial UAS usage prohibit flying directly over crowds, or over anyone not directly involved in your shooting activities. So for Motoblot, we were very careful to stay outside the perimeter of the actual event. We peered over a virtual fence, so to speak, to glimpse the event from above, but off to the side.

It’s also important to us that we don’t startle anyone. The close presence of a three foot across, four-bladed, camera-wielding, hovering robot that sounds like a million angry bees in flight would be enough to make any reasonable person nervous. This is another great reason not to fly directly over top of people. With a little altitude and some responsible piloting, we were able to capture the event from above without disturbing it or putting participants in unnecessary peril.

We were launching our aerial camera rig from outside the Motoblot fences and during one of our flights, a Chicago Police Department cruiser pulled up and stopped right in the middle of the intersection. Contrary to many people’s assumption, it is not illegal to fly a UAS in the city of Chicago, so long as you are the requisite distance (5 miles) from the city’s two airports, which we were. That said, you never know what you’re going to get when the cops show up. The officer in the driver’s seat hopped out and quickly walked over to me while I was piloting my DJI Inspire 1. Grant from Whiplash Racing Media had the Inspire’s second controller and was running the camera.

The officer came right up behind me and stuck his chin over my left shoulder.

“Is that what the camera sees?” He asked, full of nearly childish enthusiasm.

“Yes it is,” I answered, relieved by his curiosity, “and it shows us both what it sees in real time. I’m flying the aircraft, and he’s able to just run the camera.”

“That’s so cool!” the officer replied, not hiding any of his enthusiasm. “What kind of range can you get?”

“Under ideal conditions, about a mile-and-a-half. Here in town, about 400 yards at best.”

“Flight time?”

“About 15 minutes per battery.”

We chatted a bit more, and then Grant said what we were both thinking.

“When you came over here, we weren’t sure what to expect. Thanks for being curious. Some people might be more like ‘What the hell are you doing?’ These do make some people nervous.”

The CPD officer knew just what Grant meant. “Oh sure. Some people just don’t know how to handle change. I’ll get out of your hair. You guys have a great afternoon.”

“You too.” we both replied.

I tell that little story for a couple of reasons. First, to illustrate the virtues of being responsible UAS operators. We were operating our equipment appropriately and safely, so we should actually expect positive interactions with law enforcement. Second, I think it’s important that we talk about positive interactions with the police just as much as it’s important that we talk about negative interactions. In this case, it was definitely a positive interaction.

To see more examples of our aerial video capabilities, check out our aerial show reel.