Rick Fahr, the new general manager and publisher of the online-only River Valley Leader, plans to enhance his media company’s news coverage with streaming video shot by an unmanned aerial vehicle.
Fahr expects the River Valley Leader to purchase a small 2-foot-by-2-foot UAV within the next few weeks.
“They’re really beefed-up toy helicopters,” Fahr said. The cost of the UAV should be around $2,500, he said, though they can cost as much as $20,000.
Fahr began his job overseeing the Leader’s editorial, advertising and budgeting work Nov. 29. The River Valley Leader’s office is in Russellville. The digital publication reports on all of Pope County and parts of Johnson and Yell counties.
Fahr previously was publisher of the Log Cabin Democrat in Conway.
The publication’s reporting staff of six contributes writing, photographs, videos and audio content to the company’s website, RiverValleyLeader.com.
The Leader provides a lot of streaming video currently, Fahr said, and the UAV will provide more.
“This is to take a high-level view of an event on the ground just to give a large-picture view of what’s happening,” Fahr said.
The small craft will be able to stay airborne for about 10 minutes and will be useful for recording video from above ballgames, festivals, automobile wrecks and other news events, he said.
The Federal Aviation Administration regulates airspace above 400 feet, but below that “is free airspace,” Fahr said. The UAV will, however, not fly low enough to hit buildings or electric lines, he said.