Introducing Sky Drone 12. Newsgathering and coverage you can count on from above. 

Sky Drone 12 is WPRI 12 News’ DJI Inspire 1 quadcopter used to provide aerial views of news scenes and landscapes for more complete coverage. It has an on-board camera which can give a 320° view of any scene, though Sky Drone 12 can be maneuvered to give a full 360° view. The drone uses a GPS positioning system to aid with flight control, although a pilot can switch to full control when needed.  Sky Drone 12 is piloted by our very own Meteorologist T.J. DelSanto. It is the first unmanned aircraft system (UAS) used in the Providence/New Bedford television market.

Latest Coverage by Sky Drone 12:


Sky Drone 12 Specs

  • Top Speed: 49 mph in attitude mode (non GPS)
  • Max Altitude: 3 miles, although FAA regulations require us to stay below 400 feet above ground level
  • Takeoff Weight: Approximately 7.5 pounds with the battery
  • Flight time: 17-20 minutes per battery
  • Range: Approximately 1.25 miles from the flight controller, but the pilot must maintain visual contact with the drone
  • Sky Drone 12 footage of the coast_459327
  • Prudence Island from Sky Drone 12_463229
  • McCoy Stadium from Sky Drone 12_458046
  • Skydrone snow_620055
  • Sky Drone 12 rip currents_512054
  • March 8 snow Sky Drone 12 footage_658794
  • Sky Drone 12 Over Portsmouth_662374
  • Barr Beach from Sky Drone 12_409886

The Camera

Sky Drone 12 has two cameras which are used depending on the situation. A Zenmuse X 3 camera is its general purpose camera for taking pictures and video of news scenes. Its second camera, a Zenmuse Z 3, has a 3.5X zoom lens with a 2X digital zoom. Both cameras are capable of shooting video in 4K (which is four times higher quality than standard high definition). Still photographs can be shot with a resolution of 12 megapixels.


What do the letters and numbers on the side of Sky Drone 12 mean?

That is the Federal Aviation Administration registration number. “FA3KECAXCW” is Sky Drone 12’s registration with the FAA. All drones weighing more than 0.55 pounds are required to be registered with the FAA.

How is Sky Drone 12 different from drones used by hobbyists?

There is no difference with the physical drone, a hobbyist could buy one. However, Sky Drone 12 must operate by specific FAA rules, including not flying over people, not flying at night, and not operating above 400 feet.

What kind of news stories will Sky Drone 12 cover?

The sky is the limit, really. As long as Sky Drone 12 can be safely flown, it can gather video and pictures of weather, news, and other events.


Where can Sky Drone 12 fly?

Almost anywhere over Southern New England.  We must avoid airports. We cannot fly over people and we can’t fly over moving cars, so you won’t see Sky Drone 12 flying over I-95, but you may see video shot from a safe distance. There are also certain areas where we must gain permission from Air Traffic Control before we fly.

Why don’t more TV stations use drones?

Sky Drone 12 is the first unmanned aircraft system (UAS) used in the Providence/New Bedford television market. There are a number of legal hurdles that are required and significant planning is needed to fly a drone for commercial purposes. The FAA requires pilots of UAV’s to pass a 60 question test to get a remote pilot certificate.  Passing the test requires a tremendous amount of studying and understanding of flying principles, airspace and even weather.

Who flies Sky Drone 12?

Meteorologist T.J. Del Santo has a Remote Pilot Certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration. This allows T.J. to fly Sky Drone 12 for Eyewitness News.

Is any special training required to fly Sky Drone 12?

Yes! In addition to having a Remote Pilot Certificate, T.J. attended drone school in New York to learn flight maneuvers, about the Inspire 1 aircraft, and most importantly – safety.