60 Minutes report brings aerial imaging issues to primetime audience

by Liam McCabe

posted Monday, March 17, 2014 at 1:57 PM EST


Aerial photography is growing fast, and it’s starting to catch mainstream attention.

Last night, 60 Minutes broadcast a segment about the present and future of small, affordable drones in America—with an emphasis on photography and videography. Portions of the report were shot from DJI Phantom II quadcopters, providing the most striking demonstrations of the possibilities that these machines afford their owners. Birds-eye views of landmarks, safe and nimble access for search-and-rescue missions, and other perspectives that simply cannot be captured without a small, remote-controlled aerial vehicle. Correspondent Morely Safer even successfully pilots a drone on his first attempt.

The segment also draws attention to the lack of regulation in the segment, affecting everything from public safety to surveillance and privacy concerns. It’s something that’s bound to be addressed in the coming months, especially as consumer drones and aerial photography continue to appear in the news with greater frequency. Just last week, a judge dimissed a case brought by the FAA against an aerial photographer, making it clear that the FAA has no authority to regulate small aircraft like the aerial drones in question. The FAA has appealed.

This isn't the first time 60 Minutes has covered the rise of the drones, though it's arguably a more balanced take than the report they broadcast last November on Amazon's plans for delivery drones, which some viewers equated to free publicity on the biggest shopping weekend of the year, especially for what at the time seemed to be a far-fetched idea. Check out the segment at 60 Minutes—it’s well worth the time, even just for the beautiful aerial shots of Niagara Falls.