SkyTeam launches to give viewers aerial perspectives

SkyTeam flies over the area, capturing footage. (WCHS/WVAH)

Eyewitness News always tries to give viewers unique perspectives. Now we will be providing some bird’s-eye views from the sky.

WCHS-TV and Fox 11 are joining forces with St. Mary’s Medical Center to launch SkyTeam, a drone that will be offering aerial video of news events and scenic landscapes throughout the region.

The video will be shared on air, on the stations’ websites and on our social media pages. A special web page where the drone videos can be found will be featured on wchstv.com.

“It really is a tool that can let viewers see a perspective of the state they have never seen before,” said Bennet Siffrin, a promotions producer who will serve as one of the drone pilots. “Being able to provide that is really an amazing opportunity.”

Siffrin and Paul Nagy, also a promotions producer for WCHS and Fox 11, are the co-pilots for SkyTeam. They are certified Federal Aviation Administration pilots who had three months of special training to become drone pilots.

When using the drone, they will be following strict protocols that call for two pilots to be operating SkyTeam when it takes flight. One of the pilots will operate the controls, while the other pilot will keep the drone in sight at all times.

SkyTeam will not fly over crowds, can’t fly over 400 feet above the ground or 400 feet above a structure’s uppermost limit.

Prior to the official launch of SkyTeam, the drone pilots have been out practicing, gathering some footage throughout the Kanawha Valley.

Nagy said the drone will be a very useful tool in providing a perspective on incidents that news crews couldn’t show previously. It also could assist in enhancing community safety during ongoing traffic situations and disasters such as floods.

“Having access to this new method of storytelling and being able to show off what West Virginia has to offer is quite the privilege,” Nagy said.

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