The New Extreme Sport…Drone Surfing!


Going for a run or swim, working out at the gym, or playing a team sport are all excellent ways to release endorphins, the hormone that triggers responses of pleasure in the brain. The more adrenaline released during physical activity, the higher the endorphin release will be. This is why some people have turned to more extreme sports to feel the thrilling rush of excitement they provide.

There are all kinds of extreme sports, all with different levels of risk involved. Over the last few years, new technology like drones has been able to help these thrill seekers push the boundaries like never before, creating whole new worlds of extreme sports.

In September of 2016, Freefly Systems introduced the world to the extreme sport of drone surfing. In 2011, University of Washington graduate, Tabb Firchau, founded Freefly to develop the best options for mobility film-making. The company has several types of cameras available, but they are best known for their heavy lift cinematic drones. These drones, such as the Alta 8, are powerful enough to support heavy, professional camera systems. The drone can carry a payload of 26.4lbs enabling both top and bottom mounted camera positions.

To prove just how powerful the Alta 8 is for filming and heavy lift, Freefly cinematographer and drone operator Henning Sandström headed out to a calm lake to film the first ever drone surfer. The video starts with the drone flying towards the water and the surfer standing at the shoreline. Dangling from the drone is a line for the surfer to grab, which he does. Once holding onto the line, the surfer trots out to the shallows and hops onto a small board. Just like a kite or boat, the drone tows the surfer across the water as he performs some impressive tricks. A few months later, YouTuber Casey Neistat released his version of an extreme drone sport.

An avid snowboarder, Casey and his team spent a year preparing a special holiday video that would feature a drone, a snowboard, and a Santa suit. The first step was to have a custom heavy lift drone, similar to the Alta 8, built. The drone had to be strong enough to lift Casey over 25ft in the air. Next, the team headed to Finnland where Casey put on his Santa suit, turned on the drone’s Christmas themed LED lights, and was lifted into the air so he could take a 360 degree selfie. The drone then towed Casey on his snowboard along a path, spraying snow all around. The video goes on to show Casey doing some stunts on the snowboard, waving to the crowds watching, and soaring through the air, all while holding on to a rope hanging from the bottom of the drone.

Then on May 12, 2017, Latvian company, Aerones, released a video showcasing the power of their heavy lift commercial drones with some extreme sports as well. The video begins with the large 28 rotor drone capable of lifting 220lbs floating on a small pond. The drone lifts off and has a rope hanging from its undercarriage. The drone flies up to a radio tower where a team helps Latvian skydiver Ingus Augstkalns to securely grasp the handle on the rope. The drone then lifts Ingus to a height of 1,083ft above the ground! Once the target height is reached, Ingus lets go of the rope, and free falls for a few seconds before releasing his parachute.

All three of these stunts were thrilling to watch. Those participating were sure to have a huge endorphin rush. But perhaps one of the most exciting aspects is how technology is allowing people to reach extremes. Drones have come a long way, and it is not to hard to imagine what other types of extreme sports drones will be used for in the future.


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