Drone light shows have become incredibly favorable and are an entertaining spectacle across the world. From international ceremonies to music festivals, performing this complex operation safely requires complete control of software, hardware, and personnel. We met with FireFly’s co-founder, Kyle Dorosez, to learn about their unique drone operations.
Firefly Drone Shows was founded in 2017 by Kyle Dorosz and Ryan Sigmon. At the time, the idea was simply to test how many drones could be flown simultaneously. The duo was able to quickly accomplish their mission and exceeded their expectations. They decided to go all-in and take their idea one step further, ultimately establishing what is now known as Firefly Drone Shows!
Firefly continued to develop their software and hardware, allowing them to scale their operations, and create more entertaining shows - all while still ensuring the highest level of safety. In early 2018, Firefly was using about 30-drones per show. Today, the company has upped its performances and is capable of flying 300-drones per show. Firefly has big plans to release even larger offerings to their clients in the coming months.
Firefly understood that developing standard safety procedures was essential to the company’s overall success. Their first hurdle was obtaining the necessary approval and waiver from the FAA, a process that took almost a year. When working with such complex systems, there is little to no room for error. “These safety procedures started development from day one when flying just a few drones simultaneously and are still important for us today when we are flying 300 drones,” says Kyle Dorosz.
By conducting thorough and frequent risk assessments, and understanding all possible points of failure in each system, Firefly was able to formulate effective safety procedures. As the company continues to grow, these procedures continue to evolve.
The drones used for each show are designed and built in-house by the Firefly team. The design allows Firefly to fly with impressive specs:
- 23min flight time
- 25mph wind threshold
- 27watt LED
- High Precision GPS System
When asked who is responsible for the safety culture in the company Kyle eagerly replied, “Everyone!”. All team members are involved in each operations; therefore, everyone must understand what is required to conduct a safe operation. “At the end of the day it is the PIC’s duty to operate each show safety, however, we adhere to a see something say something mentality,” explains Dorosz. “This means that we encourage everyone to speak up if they have a solution that will allow us to improve the safety of our procedures and operations.”
This continuous evolution also plays a role in other aspects of the day-to-day workflow at Firefly. Firefly uses experience, data from each operation, and feedback from personnel to continue advancing the pilot training and technology (hardware and software) in order to meet the standards of the drone industry.
The attention to detail with regard to safety and risk mitigation played an important part in obtaining the necessary waivers from the FAA to operate commercially. Firefly was able to prove to the FAA that they not only understand the risks involved with flying multiple drones simultaneously, but that they were also able to properly reduce the risks due to their thorough research and data collection.
As Firefly operates worldwide they are required to also comply with local regulations which often differ from the regulations in the United States. “This usually isn’t an issue, but definitely something we do not take lightly,” says Dorosz “It requires a few extra steps from our team to ensure we are in compliance.”
FireFly’s drone operations are covered by SkyWatch.AI’s worldwide commercial drone insurance via California-based broker agency, MFE. “Kyle and the team at Firefly have been wonderful to work with over the past 2-3 years.” said MFE’s Tyler Crawford “We’re always looking for ways to provide the best service to our clients, partner with top-rated carriers, and save them money in the process. SkyWatch checks all of those boxes and we couldn’t be happier to be working together to support FireFly’s amazing business.”
Don't forget to check out more of Firefly Drone Show's work here.