Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sixty seconds over Cabela's

Dave Schwicht, right, and me, face to face with the future. The FAA has said commercial use of drones is illegal, but the ruling was knocked down by an administrative law judge and is being appealed.
Cyndi and Dave Schwicht of Keller Williams Realty East Idaho admit there's a "wow" factor to offering drone reconnaissance of real estate properties. "Guys see it and really get into it," says Dave.

Their DJI Phantom, bought on, cost them about $500. The GoPro camera that mounts on the underside cost about another $500. The expense has been worth it, they say, as it has brought them lots of attention.

"It's not that great for showing the front of a house, but if there's a big piece of land you can show people a lot of things," Cyndi said. What's more, if you download the GoPro app onto your phone you can see the view from the sky in not-so-real time (download can be kind of slow and jerky.)

Crows do not like this radio-controlled four-rotor gizmo at all, and have attacked it. Neither does the Federal Aviation Administration. Although regulations are being worked on, the FAA currently considers it illegal to fly drones for commercial purposes, including real estate photography and journalism.

In March, however, an administrative law judge for the National Traffic Safety Bureau ruled that the FAA's ban on commercial drone flights was not legally enforceable. The case involved Raphael Pirker, who was fined $10,000 for flying a drone over the University of Virginia to obtain promotional footage.

Since the ruling, it appears the FAA hasn't been cracking down on real estate agents using drones, said Paul McLaughlin, attorney for the Iowa Association of Realtors, in an article published July 7 in USA Today.

Because Tuesday was a beautiful day with very little in the way of wind, we took the DJI Phantom out for quick cruise over Cabela's, a project of widespread interest. Here, for your viewing pleasure, here is the MP4 file. Dave was careful not to get too close, so as to not distract anyone on the job site or run afoul of the authorities.