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Las Vegas company OK’d to fly drones for news coverage

A company that is leading the commercial drone industry in Nevada has received an exemption from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly an unmanned aerial vehicle to gather news images.

Las Vegas-based ArrowData, a division of Bowhead Systems, became the first operation in the country to receive approval to use drones for electronic news gathering or “aerojournalism” as the company is calling it.

A company spokesman said ArrowData is negotiating with a television station to use the news drone, but he would not disclose which one.

“This approval from the FAA provides tremendous opportunity for our company to pursue aerojournalism while working with local FAA officials to ensure safe flight operations,” ArrowData Vice President James Fleitz said in a Tuesday statement.

“Helping news stations of all sizes with the ability to have aerial video is a game changer,” Fleitz said. “This is a tool that stations in all markets will use to better inform the public, and we’re proud to be leading the way in this new industry.”

ArrowData and its Front Row Cam division scored another first last week. It was the first to provide video images from a drone at an indoor sporting event, the Geico EnduroCross series motorcycle races staged Friday at Orleans Arena.

At those races, the company provided a video stream that could be viewed on a smartphone screen by fans at the event who downloaded a free app.

Footage from the race will be broadcast by the CBS Sports Network on Sunday.

Former Air Force pilots lead the ArrowData team. Fleitz flew C-17 Globemaster transport planes while the pilot who flew indoors at The Orleans, Bill “Mario” Wilson, was a former B-52, F-16 and Predator drone pilot.

ArrowData has been one of the leading companies working to commercialize flying drones in the United States after Nevada was chosen as one of six states to host test flights in late 2013.

Contact reporter Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Find him on Twitter @RickVelotta.

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