A Q&A with Michael Buchkoski of Angel Hawk
Ashton Erickson, Staff Writer October 5, 2022
If you’ve been to a Holy Family football game this year, you might have noticed those strange lights in the sky. Michael Buchkoski and his team at Angel Hawk are providing the latest and greatest for football coaches and players across the state to break down film with their birds-eye view of the action. Q: What are the benefits of going drone film? A: Traditionally, athletic teams use fixed camera locations to film football, soccer, or lacrosse. The camera is set up on a tower and the playing action is filmed from the end zone view. Drones, however, follow the playing action and provide a clear bird’s eye view of each play. Coaches use the unmatched film perspective to instruct in-game, after the game, and players use the aerial film for enhanced scouting tape for College or Professional recruiting. Below quote is from a current coach: Q: Has there been an increase of teams using drone footage? A: The overall growth within the drone industry continues to grow exponentially. Angel Hawk has experienced an annual growth rate 10-15% in the number of clients (teams). In fact, we have to turn away a number of potential clients during the season because of limited capacity with on hand equipment and available drone pilots. Q: How long has drone footage been a thing? A: Four years ago, Angel Hawk began contracting clients within the Denver Metro area. Q: Is it used mainly in high schools? A: Angel Hawk’s core service offering is drone film to Athletic Programs. Chiefly, high school football. Angel Hawk provides aerial footage during game and practices, integrates with sideline replay systems, and our drones are capable of providing live stream footage over the web.
Q: What permissions do you have to get to do it? A: Approvals to conduct drone operations are a major requirement for Angel Hawk. Per CHSAA policy, we must obtain written permission from the host school before filming any regular season games. Coordination normally occurs with athletic directors or head coaches. All playoff games require CHSAA approval. In addition, each of our pilots are licensed by the FAA and have earned their remote pilot certificate. Q: Does weather present a challenge? A: Absolutely. Any precipitation grounds the drone. Wind in excess of 25 knots will cause the pilot to land. Heat can also impact operations, but really not the flight aspect of things. Our batteries warm up during flight and must be cooled before charging. Higher temperatures, especially in August and September, prolong battery charging times. Cold temperatures are mostly favorable for drones, however, pilots must keep their hands and fingers warm in order to capture exceptional film. Q: Feedback you are getting from coaches? A: We receive positive feedback from 99% of our clients. Communication is key between drone pilots and the coaching staff. Usually, we conduct a short mid-season survey with coaches to get a read on what we are doing well and what we need to work on. After the season, we reach back out to coaches with a more thorough survey and one-on-one communication if necessary.