“The way you can tell how a drone pilot is feeling is to look at his feet,” says Tim Foster, as the eight propellers of his CineStar-8 Quadrocopter chirp like a chorus of birds and start to spin. “If he’s relaxed and still, like this, it means everything’s okay. If he’s shuffling around, like this, it means something might be off. And if he starts running…RUN!”
Foster gives a hearty laugh as he maneuvers the drone off the hands of his media consultant, Dave Warner, who is serving today as a human launch pad. The Quadrocopter ascends quickly over our heads and toward the setting sun, glinting through the bare branches of trees on a crisp Atlanta day in December. Foster is calm; his feet are planted firmly.
Encouraged, I tap gingerly at the controls of the camera control unit hooked over my shoulders. The camera, a pretty standard-looking DSLR affixed beneath the propellers, pans (rather jerkily, I’m afraid—I’m still getting used to this kind of power) over the parking lot where we stand, over the red brick church beside it, over the cemetery and street beyond, then around 180 degrees so that I can see myself, standing ant-like on the asphalt. The ultimate selfie.