Channel 3 has been taking WRCB viewers to the scene of breaking news with microwave live trucks, then satellite live trucks, and most recently using mobile backpacks that can go live from almost anywhere. One place we could not go live from, until now, is the air. Channel 3 is proud to become one of the first television stations in the country with a fully-licensed UAV (drone) program.

Sky3 is a quadcopter that is capable of providing 4K, ultra high-definition prerecorded video. Live video is available in true high definition.

"This is a game-changer for newsgathering in the Chattanooga television market. This tool will help our journalists tell the story in a way viewers cannot see anywhere else,” WRCB News Director Derrall Stalvey said.

When a train derailed over the summer, WRCB was able to broadcast video that gave viewers real perspective on the scope of the incident. A camera at the ground shows a lot but it cannot match the bird’s eye view.

The Federal Aviation Administration implemented new rules on August 29 which gave WRCB a safe set of guidelines to move forward. Tracey Trumbull will be Sky3’s primary operator while other staff members are in training. Trumbull has been training to fly drones for more than four years and earned FAA certification a few months ago.

"We are not going to be spying in people’s backyard or being careless with this tool,” said Trumbull. “You can believe we will go above and beyond what the regulations require.”

WRCB will utilize at least two people on all assignments with Sky3: the operator (pilot) and a spotter to watch for obstacles. A third person will be utilized on certain flights.

The team operating Sky3 can only fly during daylight hours from a maximum height of 400 feet above ground level. It will not fly over people or roads to avoid accidental injuries. The operators will also be respectful of privacy and police investigations.

"A lot of people have drones for a hobby. This is not a hobby for us,” added Stalvey.

“Our first priorities are safety and privacy. Only after those two requirements are met do we attempt our other goals of using this gear to tell a more complete story.”