Recently in Oakland County, Michigan near Interstate 75, 60 drones moved with precision to light up the sky. They did a pre-programmed dance that lit the darkness with amazing colors as they created forms and images such as gazing eyes, a rotating cube, and even a tornado.
Though the 15+ minute drone show had not been advertised, but it drew a huge crowd. There were so many spectators that the drone operators had to shut the gate of the field where they were doing the show to keep people out. In actuality, the drone show was not intended to be entertainment. The true purpose was so that a Lake Orion, Michigan based company Firefly Drone Shows, could have an opportunity to test new ideas, many of which may be used in upcoming drone shows.
Firefly Drones is co-owned and operated by Ryan Sigmon and Kyle Dorosz. Mr. Sigmon compared the drone show to something you might see on a computer screen, much like pixels working in tandem to create an image. Rather than seeing each drone, or pixel in this analogy, as an individual part, Sigmon and Dorosz want you to see all the drones working together as if they were a piece of art. These kind of drone shows have been generating a lot of interest lately. Last month, Firefly was contracted to produce a drone show for the Ford Rogue Plant’s 100th anniversary. Drones were used to create iconic Ford vehicles, including a Ford F-150 driving over rocky terrain, and also to spell out “HAPPY B-DAY!”
In the past, such events were dominated by firework displays. These air shows are now being replaced by drones. To be able to create drone show, such as the ones by companies like Firefly, approval from the FAA is mandatory. Luckily Firefly had obtained permission from the FAA this past year. In doing so they were able to help save the 4th of July celebrations for a resort in Arizona.
After experiencing a particularly dry season, an Arizona resort had to cancel their planned 4th of July fireworks show for fire safety concerns. The resort contacted Firefly to see if there was any way they could help. Even with the extreme short notice, Firefly was able to create a 4th of July spectacle.
Drone shows have also been used in various high profile events in the past few years, including during the halftime show at the 2018 Super Bowl, the Winter Olympics held in South Korea, and at Intel’s anniversary celebrations in 2018. The FAA says it has issued over 30 waivers to allow the operation of multiple drones by one pilot, and over 1900 waivers allowing operation at night. With more investment in the technology, drones could be the future of light shows and potentially takeover fireworks.