NEW YORK (WPIX) – 500 drones flew in a synchronized show Thursday night to celebrate 10 years of the popular cellphone game Candy Crush Saga.
The use of drone shows for advertising is a newer concept that is growing in popularity. The shows require weeks – sometimes months – of preparation, and a lot of paperwork.
“In New York City, they’re pretty strict,” said Preston Ward, the chief pilot for Sky Elements, a drone company based out of Texas. “There’s also the NYC city code that prohibits aircraft from launching in the city limits.”
Because of these restrictions, Thursday’s show launched from New Jersey and stayed over land because the Hudson River is restricted airspace.
“We are out of the way of all incoming stuff,” said Jeff Kaplan, the general manager of Pixie Drones, which produced the Candy Crush Saga show. “We contact the FAA. We contact all the flight towers so everybody knows. We contact the ferries. So land, air, sea – everyone knows what’s happening.”
The shows are also becoming more popular for holiday light shows and sporting events. “Everybody’s always blown away in person,” said Ward.
But it’s an experience that some prefer to skip. New York State Sen. Brad Hoylman introduced legislation — now awaiting Gov. Kathy Hochul’s signature — that would prevent companies from commercializing New York’s public airspace.
“It would effectively ban tourist choppers from flying over Manhattan from New Jersey, as well as drones, by allowing the New York State attorney general to file nuisance claims against these operators,” said Hoylman.