by David Koon
Rick Fahr, former publisher of the Log Cabin Democrat, has found a new job, taking the publisher's seat of the River Valley Leader in Russellville on November 26. The more interesting news is the direction he's thinking of taking news collection, as in: straight up, via unmanned, news-collecting drone aircraft.
Recently on his Facebook account, Fahr said that he's had theories he's wanted to put into action for years, and will pursue those with his new position. "First wild thing we're gonna pursue?" Fahr wrote, "Eye in the Sky. We'll probably call it RVL1 — a camera-equipped helicopter or drone that will give us the ability to cover all sorts of happenings like never before (at least for any media outlet not a major TV station)."
Crazy idea? Sure. But not as crazy (or expensive) as you might think — even for a small media outlet like the River Valley Leader. Politico reported in November on a project by a Missouri NPR affiliate which would use a $25,000 grant from the University of Missouri to research and build several news-collecting drone aircraft.
As the North Little Rock Police Department could probably tell you, the FAA has strict regulations on drones and slip ups can lead to catastrophic crashes — not to mention death, given that a drone is basically a flying lawnmower. But if the red tape ever clears, media drones would be loads cheaper than the news helicopters of yesteryear.
Arkansas Blog Air Force, anyone?