Battle of the sports drone in Australia

As mentioned earlier today, Australian TV Channel Fox launched a UAS program last Friday. The FoxKopter mission is to provide aerial footage of the Twenty20 Big Bash cricket competition. (First blood to South Africa)

Not to be outdone Channel Nine quickly called up a platform to create an aerial tour of the ground. It was flown from a building at Trinity College, and was given lift-off in television prime time in Sydney and Melbourne.  Unable to fly over the pitch itself  the Perth flight looked at the Swan River and surrounds.  Channel Nine beat Fox to the skies!

Does this mean drone sports journalism has arrived? Interesting that these are both American brand TV stations, able to experiment with a news gathering medium still illegal in the USA. That said we did see footage from the F1 race track in Austin Texas generated by UAS earlier this month. Maybe it has started in the USA but nobody told the FAA.

I did spot this amusing commentary on Perth proceedings from That Cricket Blog

Perth, Australia – Australian broadcasting giant, Channel 9, have been forced into making a formal apology to the National


Assembly of Afghanistan after an experimental ‘DroneCam’, used as part of their coverage of the third test at Perth, crashed into a wedding reception being held at a nearby Afghani cultural centre.

Whilst the drone caused limited damage – overturning a finger buffet and destroying the amplifier of a state-of-the-art karaoke system – it’s the presence as guest of honour by the Afghanistan ambassador to Australia, Amb Andisha, which has caused an international incident.

“We can’t apologise enough for what has happened, “ stressed Channel 9 spokesman, Bob Philtrum, “at Channel 9 we’ve always regarded ourselves as at the forefront of innovative cricket coverage, but purchasing a first generation de-weaponised drone from the US military just to give us a new camera angle may, in retrospect, have been a step too far.”

It’s understood that whilst the drone’s black-box flight recorder has already been recovered from underneath a pile of ruined canapés, analysis of its contents has yet to reveal the cause of the crash.

“At the time it we lost control over it, the drone was being used as part of our morning pitch report to identify areas that should be targeted for attack, “ explained Mr Philtrum, “we’re currently working on the assumption that it went into some kind of pre-programmed default mode as soon as it it made visual contact with the Afghani wedding party.”

Whilst the Afghanistan Embassy in Canberra declined to comment on the incident, local resident Jeff Shaw explained what he saw on the day.

“I was in my garden whilst the wedding reception was being held and I noticed the guests became agitated as soon as the drone started to circle. But then I know from visiting the centre when it first opened that attending a wedding reception that’s being buzzed by an unmanned drone is considered an exceedingly bad omen in Afghani culture.”

A spokesman for the Perth Afghani Cultural Centre confirmed it will be open as usual on Monday and that Channel 9 had contacted them with reassurances that ‘DroneCam’ would no longer be part of their cricket coverage.

“Channel 9 has been profuse with their apologies, for which we’re grateful, but we’ve had to decline the offer of a personal visit by their commentary team as our staff is already traumatised. Although I suppose the one good thing to come out of this incident is that the centre’s aim, to educate Australians as to the realities of day-to-day life in Afghanistan, has been fully realised.”


Gary Mortimer

Founder and Editor of sUAS News | Gary Mortimer has been a commercial balloon pilot for 25 years and also flies full-size helicopters. Prior to that, he made tea and coffee in air traffic control towers across the UK as a member of the Royal Air Force.