Charlotte is a beautiful city with a lot of great views to capture. With many more affordable drones coming out from DJI more folks are asking about flying drones in the Charlotte area. Within this article, I will share my experience over the last year flying as an FAA Part 107 pilot. Disclaimer I am not a lawyer and you are responsible for knowing the laws around flying.
Drones can add endless new possibles to your photography. Taking shots from the air allows one to see things from a new perspective. The skyline at sunset from 400 ft up, that is as tall as a 40 story building (Duke energy is 48 stories) with the sun creating a backlight and turning the clouds an unforgettable color, is a view everyone can enjoy. It will take some time to get use to flying and scouting locations since you do not know what you will see from the air till you get the drone up. Using google earth is a fantastic way to look for great shots of the city or water. Fair warning about flying around other people as they will want to ask a number of questions about what you are doing and even prevent you from landing the drone since they are trying to get a closer look. Most people are open to drones, but I have met two that shared there dislike. The video from the drones is great too. The DJI drones have active tracking and are able to follow a person for some great B roll for vloggers or getting some different action shots.
The two biggest impacts to flying in Charlotte are the Bank of America Stadium and Charlotte-Douglas Airport. The Bank of America Stadium Stadium will impact uptown if there is a game for a number of hours before and after game time. There are a few different ways to check no-fly times. Personally, I use the DJI GO app and it will show upcoming events. Charlotte-Douglas Airport causes most of the county to be in Class B air space. With the updates to mapping and GPS, you can now fly within Class B as long as you follow the distance from the airport rules. There is also the Concord Rgnl Airport that has a flight pattern over the University area. If you enjoy shooting over water which drones have a unique ability to do remember there are nuclear power plants north and south of the city and it is best to keep your distance.
Some of my favorite spots to shoot Uptown are from the light rail in Southend and Noda during golden hours. There are a number of buildings going up in the area and I have found the cranes can help add some depth to the drone photos. Train tracks are great at adding some leading lines for shots as well. Since Charlotte has been a center for trade for so many years there are a number of train tracks to find.
As for making money with your drone, some different ideas are wedding photography/videography, real state photography/videography (For lakefront properties it is a most have nowadays), construction companies need photos of buildings under construction, music videos and much more.
Please share any locations or tips you have for the Charlotte area for flying.
Be safe out there.
Written by Phillip Capaldi
Photo by @phalconphotos