6. New York City’s first legal commercial drone flight was conducted at Industry City
On August 12, 2015, at 5:00 p.m., the Brooklyn-based company AEROBO Aerial Robotics conducted the first legal commercial drone flight in New York City at 220 36th Street, Industry City. As the first company to receive approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly a drone, AEROBO’s flight helped to mark the beginning of a new industry that to this day continues to grow. In a New York Business Journal article Aerobo’s co-founders, NYU alumni Brian Streem and Jeff Brink were called “Brooklyn’s Wright Brothers,” with their company working to construct industrial-grade multi-rotor drones capable of flying heavy, professional-grade camera equipment. The specific drone flown at Industry City was an AEROBO X8 equipped with a RED Epic camera that provided footage for a production company making a film about Brooklyn tech companies.
At the time, Aerobo’s drones had already received FAA approval for flights in other parts of the country but New York City remained particularly difficult. As drones weren’t allowed to fly higher than 200 feet, had to also maintain a 500-foot distance from all buildings, unless the building owners had given permission, and were required to remain at least five miles away from all airports many locations in the city failed to meet the necessary criteria. Even so, Industry City ended up meeting the necessary criteria, becoming the perfect location to launch the city’s first legal drone flight.