News & Politics

This Illegal Drone Footage of DC Is Beautiful

A view of Washington is so good, it should be against the law. Actually, it is.

Here’s a view of DC we don’t get to see very often, mostly because it’s totally illegal. But a crafty drone operator managed to get two stunning minutes of aerial footage of the city.

Viktor Mirzoyan, a local software developer, shot the video using a quadcopter rigged with a high-definition GoPro camera. Mirzoyan uploaded the clip in February, although it managed to stay hidden until today when Vice spotted it. Mirzoyan did not respond to Washingtonian’s questions about when and how he shot the video, but in the comments on the clip’s Vimeo page, he tells viewers he’s managed to stay out of trouble.

“No feds, no water-boarding, and no Guantanamo,” he writes.

The same can’t be said for others who have attempted to fly recreational remote aircraft over the District. Adam Eidinger, probably known more for his marijuana reform advocacy, is also a drone enthusiast, but he was publicly scolded by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2012 after he lost a quadcopter he was piloting over Northwest DC. Because of security concerns, the FAA tightly restricts nearly all types of non-government flight over the city, spanning everything from hang-gliders to model airplanes to drones. (CBS News got a rare exemption last year for a 60 Minutes piece on Capitol Dome reconstruction.)

But even if Mirzoyan is about to get spanked by the feds like Eidinger was, the views of DC offered in his video are captivating, especially when scored to The Verve’s embarrassingly addictive late ‘90s anthem “Bitter Sweet Symphony.”

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.