Falcon Airship Aims to be the Future of Flying Photography

Falcon Airship Aims to be the Future of Flying Photography

One of the big buzzwords of the past few years: drones. Drones have become a hot topic for everything from Christmas gifts, to military applications, to DIY hacker projects.

Personal drones are especially cool, ranging from tiny toys costing tens of dollars that can sit in the palm of your hand, to professional and powerful aircraft costing hundreds of dollars. It seems that soon, toy drones will be just as ubiquitous under kids’ beds as RC cars.

One of the best applications of personal drones, besides the simple pleasure of just flying one around, is photography. Drones have enabled both amateurs and professionals to capture incredible aerial footage.

When most people think of personal drones, they think of quadcopters. A company called Artic Sky has a different idea, they have created the Falcon, an airship aerial platform. The Falcon is effectively a mini remote control dirigible, pitched as a “silent, safe and low cost, high endurance aerial platform.”

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The main advantage of the Falcon, in my opinion, is that it tackles one of the main problems with drones: battery life. Anyone who owns or has flown a quadcopter will be familiar with battery life frustrations; for most of them, you can usually expect 15 to 20 minutes.

The Falcon, floating with a belly full of helium, doesn’t have that problem. It can stay airborne for over 24 hours, an amazing advantage for long duration applications, like research or filming events.
 
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The Falcon has other advantages too, unlike a quadcopter with its whirring motors and rotors, the Falcon is silent, making it possible to capture audio. I’m not certain how useful this will actually be, given how far the airship is likely to be from the audio source, but it could be cool for filming a concert or something of that sort.

I think a better solution if someone needs sound, regardless of the sort of aircraft, is to have some sort of audio recording device on the ground and then combine and sync it with the video afterwards.

Artic Sky also makes the case for the Falcon being safer than drones, which is true, but may also be somewhat of an unfair comparison. There are plenty of incidents with cheap and DIY type drones involving crashes, propellers flying off, etc., but professional quality drones, which is the category the Falcon is really competing in, are typically much safer and more reliable.

The Falcon is expected to retail for $2000, which coupled with the need to fill it with helium before every flight, will likely keep it out of the hands of amateurs. That price tag, however, should be very reasonable for events, research, and professional and industrial applications. Arctic Sky is attempting to raise $25,000 on Kickstarter to fund the manufacturing of the Falcon.

At its core, the most alluring aspect of the Falcon is the fact that it can be used without worrying about batteries. Buying and lugging around tanks of helium to fill it, however, also sounds pretty annoying. That got me wondering, is there a way to get the best of both worlds?


The Falcon has a tether to keep it from blowing away; how about a battery powered aircraft with a tether that provides it power from the ground? Drones can’t carry too many batteries and still stay light enough to fly, but if they can be powered from the ground, they should be able to fly forever. A quick search of this idea brought up elistair, a company doing exactly this with what they call “micro-tether technology.”

A tethered drone certainly sounds awesome, I think it may be the best option for long term aerial applications, but the Falcon can still be very useful for a lot of people in a lot of different applications, and I look forward to seeing one flying in the future!

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