Capturing protesting crowds by drone safely without needing an FAA waiver

Even though Jamie Goodwick is authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to fly a DJI Mavic 2 Pro outfitted with a small parachute over people. He didn't need to do so in order to capture the protesting crowds marching down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Portland, with his drone.

Portlandrone captures protesting crowds by drone

Goodwick who is originally from Newtown, but lives and runs his business Portlandrone in Portland, Oregon has been hired by many great companies such as Nike, the Discovery Channel, Netflix, and others to provide stunning aerial photos and videos.

In December of last year, the FAA granted Goodwick a waiver that allows him to fly over people using specified equipment, including a DJI Mavic 2 Pro outfitted with a ParaZero SafeAir Mavic parachute system.

“Flight safety is a critical issue for us whether we are flying drones ourselves or working with others,” wrote The Times Graphics Director Archie Tse in an email exchange, noting that many members of the staff are certificated remote pilots, including Bedel Saget, the graphics editor who spoke to Goodwick in detail about his waiver, according to AOPA. “Having the waiver also gave us confidence in Jamie's ability to operate the drone safely.”

Capturing Protesting Crowds By Drone Safely Without Needing An Faa Waiver

However to capture the protesting crowds marching down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Portland, Goodwick did not need his FAA waiver. Instead, he was able to fly ahead of the demonstrators over streets that were cleared ahead of the march.

YouTube video

Capturing Protesting Crowds By Drone Safely Without Needing An Faa Waiver 1

By carefully flying his drone over empty streets and over the rooftops of buildings flanking the march, he was able to capture these amazing images.

“There's just no reason to put anybody who's doing this movement in danger,” Goodwick said.

Goodwick made the aerial footage and photos available to the New York Times and was excited to find out that the newspaper had used his footage both in its printed paper as well as on the website.

“Our company has a very small … opportunity to share this story with, and share our community with, the entire world,” Goodwick said. “It's very humbling. I'm very blessed, I'm very humbled. And honestly, it's a lot of luck, too. We were the first ones they called.”

Over the last two weeks, we have seen a lot of drone footage of the protests that are taking place around the country. Some of the drone footage is captured in a safe and responsible way. Some of it is not. Goodwick underscores the importance of safe drone flying and how it shapes public opinion about drones.

“We're the ones that have to educate, because some coverage of drones, most coverage of drones, is bad,” Goodwick said. “We need to better educate the community, and continue to do so.”

“I'm hoping that even … if we impact one person [who] was like, ‘I was considering flying over somebody, but now I'm not going to because I know I can get the shot a different way,' then we've done our job. But we just have to keep continuing that.”

Capturing Protesting Crowds By Drone Safely Without Needing An Faa Waiver 2

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Photo: Portlandrone

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ or @hayekesteloo.

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