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Football: Drones could be coming to a high school game near you

August 23, 2013|By Eric Sondheimer
  • Larry Savala used a helicopter drone to take this photo.
Larry Savala used a helicopter drone to take this photo. (Larry Savala )

Drones could be coming to high school football stadiums soon.

They're already hovering above some college football fields to film practices, such as at UCLA.

All it takes is a $1,000 investment for a helicopter drone, plus $200 for a camera. Some programs flush with money won't have any problem with that.

But what happens if each school wants to use a drone during a game? The sky could get crowded and fans might be watching the drones more than the game.

Roger Blake, executive director of the California Interscholastic Federation, said he is unaware of any rule regarding use of drones. It would probably be up to each school district to decide and debate safety concerns, especially if there were multiple drones in use.

The question is: Does a view from above offer more value than the end zone shots being used by most schools?

Old-timers such as Santa Ana Mater Dei Coach Bruce Rollinson won't be rushing out to purchase a drone.

"Not until they go on sale," Rollinson said. "I'm too old to worry about drones. I worry about first downs and stopping people."

An aerial view certainly offers a different perspective.

Larry Savala, a producer for LA36, deployed a battery-powered helicopter drone on Thursday night at Crenshaw High to shoot video with a GoPro camera for the Cougars' scrimmage against Garfield. It hovered above for 10 minutes until Savala directed the helicopter to land on the sideline via remote control.

John Aguirre, the commissioner of the City Section, said, "That's incredible."

The drone had a GPS flight control system to help with safety concerns, Savala said.

High school coaches love to experiment with the latest gadgets, and drones fit into that category.

Eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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