Flying High with Zach Nicolaou

This interview is sponsored by SVIP  S.V.I.P

& Produced by Robert Molloy



How long does it take to set up and prepare your drone gear?

Generally, it will take anywhere from 2-3 minutes to unpack my bag, assemble the propellers and insert the battery. I then must connect the controller to my iPhone and make sure everything is safe within my surroundings. The app is then launched from my iPhone which will provide me with important information that is constantly analyzing the immediate area. The total time from having it unassembled in the bag to having it in the air is roughly 5 minutes.

What is the highest level of elevation the bot can fly? 

According to FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) regulations, 400 FT is the max altitude you can fly your drone. Something a lot of people aren’t aware of, is the fact that it’s 400 FT from where you take off. For example, if you take off from sea level then you can only go 400 FT above the sea level. If you take off from the top of a building that is 200 FT in the air, then you can again go 400 FT, but you will also get the extra 200 FT due to the height of your takeoff location.
More info: https://www.faa.gov/uas/getting_started/

Drone 5How many different drones have you had over the years?
A good friend of mine had an inexpensive drone that he bought from Best Buy. Upon seeing him flying it around, my interest was sparked instantly. Who wouldn’t want a flying camera? The following day I decided to head to Toys “R” Us and buy the cheapest toy drone that had a camera. I could only fly about 25-50 FT from my controller and the camera was extremely sub par. Living right on the Gulf of Mexico, I quickly broke the limits of the drone and sent two or three drones straight into the ocean. During this time frame is where I learned a lot of the basic controls. I then went a week without having a drone which made me realize how much I missed having one. I decided at that point to take the plunge and buy a real one. I hopped on eBay and ordered a DJI Phantom 3. This is where things started to really take off (no pun intended) and I started to connect with a lot of other drone enthusiasts around the city and even world (thanks to IG). I immersed myself with it, making a self-promise to fly it once a day no matter what (unless weather had a say). I got to the point where the Phantom 3 was limiting me with how far I could go, along with the lack of camera quality . This lead me to my latest and greatest drone, the DJI Phantom 4 Pro. I’ll keep it simple and sweet, this drone is everything I ever hoped for. I continue to grow in the drone community as I try to keep my promise of flying at least once a day.

Companies Worked With…

  • Mercedes Benz of Tampa Bay
  • Franklin Manor
  • Eshenbaugh Land Company
  • Game of Zonk
  • American Food Distributor


Were you able to capture images during the eclipse? 

Due to the angle of the sun at that time, the drone wasn’t being able to capture any eclipse shots. I tried to take some shots with my DSLR, but Tampa unfortunately didn’t get the best view. I wish I was more prepared for the eclipse. With that being said, in the future I will make sure to head to the right location with the appropriate gear to capture it correctly.

Drone 7What do you do with all the footage that you capture?
Currently, I feel like a rapper who records a track every day, yet hasn’t dropped many mixtapes. Essentially, what I’m saying is, I have hard drives full of clips and shots that I’ve taken over the past few years. Creative people become very particular with what they put out to the world. I focus more on still shots on my IG (Instagram) and haven’t been consistent with dropping videos, but I plan to change that going further.

Where are some of the best locations you’ve flown around?

Drone 8I will still stick with my go-to answer:

The Bahamas. That water is something out of a movie, that you need to see in person. It’s remarkable how clear and blue the water and how white the sand is. It makes flying a drone, a dream that you never want to wake up from. If I could start my day there every morning, the first thing I would do is fly around those beautiful beaches.

Are you certified and what exactly does that mean?

I’m working on getting certified. There is a part 107 test you are required to take to become licensed and certified by the FAA. The test takes anywhere between 1-2 hours and can be taken are local airports, just depends on your location. For more information visit: https://www.faa.gov/uas/getting_started/fly_for_work_business/becoming_a_pilot/

Zach’s IG- znicolaou

In regards to what comes with being certified, it opens you up to taking on businesses commercially and even flying in restricted areas depending on where and who you are working with. It also allows for you to market yourself to businesses as a certified pilot along with providing you with detailed knowledge about surrounding airspace zones.

“Just to clear up one thing up, whenever I fly commercially for a company, I’m always within a foot or two of my business partner who is certified. As long as he is within a safe distance from me, we can both fly commercially without any issues or breaking any rules.”

What kind of equipment does it take to get to the next level in this industry? 

The equipment is a big part in how this all works. I went from flying a toy RC drone to a semiprofessional drone that has a range of almost 5 miles. The technology they’re utilizing in these drones is unreal. The Phantom 4 pro has obstacle avoidance sensors all over it, basically insuring a safe flight with no crashes. I would love to shout out the company DJI as the biggest drone innovator. If you are looking to get into the drone field, check DJI out.

What happens to a drone in a “no-fly zone?”

If you fly in the “no-fly zone” you are risking getting a fine from the FAA and possibly jail time depending on how serious of a no fly zone you are in. The software I use with DJI, shows you where you can’t fly and now will even override your system to stop you from flying into those no fly zones, taking away the temptation we all have. It’s all being done for the greater good, we don’t want to have someone make the front page of the paper for flying into a helicopter because he thought it was time to test the waters with the no fly zone. As a general rule, don’t fly where you shouldn’t. If you’re flying a drone, you should know the basic rules and shouldn’t try to stray around them.

Drone 1

Thank you for the read!


Fox Sports FL- Kelly Nash #Rays #Lightning


Kelly Nash, Fox Sports FL

Kelly Nash, Fox Sports FL

Growing up, she knew she wanted to be a journalist. Years later it came down to news or sports. With a decision looming, Kelly had an opportunity to interview Mark Martin at the Homestead Motor Speedway. Soon after, she ended up choosing sports and has not looked back since. She is an inspiration for reporters as she gets to cover the Lightning and the Rays and also covered basketball and football in the ACC. That’s literally a dream come true for sports fans all over. With her success and experience look for her to continue to strive with Fox Sports and beyond!

Nash's Notebook
  • Favorite place to travel? Kauai, Hawaii, no question. I have been there twice and it enchants like no other.
  • Idol growing up? Adored Jon Miller and Joe Morgan on their long Sunday Night Baseball run. Also loved watching Joan Lunden on the morning news.
  • Routine before a game? Sleep in as late as possible. Get hair and makeup done. Arrive at the ballpark or rink around 1:30 to read about the match ups, pitch ideas for the broadcast, and meet with producers before showtime.




Favorite part about the city of Tampa?

I live in St. Pete, so I don’t venture to Tampa often, but I love the eats in Tampa, the laid-back vibe, and the people.

-When did you first decide you wanted to be a sports reporter? What was the process like when first researching sports journalism schools?

I decided I wanted to be a TV reporter back in the day. I was about 10 and already visiting local news stations in Miami, getting a little fix for my curiosity of the business. In grad school studying journalism at the University of Miami they wanted us to pick a track, news or sports. It took me weeks to decide. I had a great time interviewing NASCAR driver Mark Martin in Homestead before a race, so I chose sports.

Lightning pre-game show outside of the Forum

Lightning pre-game show outside of the Forum

-Explain the atmosphere of a Bolts game in the Forum, down by the ice when a goal is scored?

Electric. Literally. The tesla coils that shoot lightning bolts about 20 feet might be the most charged celebration in sports.

photo 3

-MLB season is in full gear, what is your prediction for the AL East standings come September?

As an eternal optimist, and seeing the Rays only back 8.5 games (as of the day I’m answering this), no reason not to predict we can’t rise from worst to first in this second half. #TBrising

Todd Kalas

Todd Kalas

-Out of all the baseball stadiums you’ve been in, where does Tropicana Field stand?

The last non-retractable roof in baseball ensures an air-conditioned experience at 72 degrees. And that is a beautiful thing. In order to elevate, you have to appreciate what you already have. I would like to see the Trop appreciated even more. It has all the amenities to remain competitive with other ballparks.

nash interview
-Is being an NFL reporter something you see in your future?

I’m living my dream now, so I’ve just started day dreaming about the future. I don’t want to rush thoughts of it. NFL is considered top-dog in the sports business. But my heart is in baseball.

-How much of an impact does social media have on a reporter’s everyday life?

I manage @SunSportsRays on Twitter, so I try and stay active on there more than my personal account. A lot of great sports info can originate on Twitter. It’s pretty fascinating how important it has become in breaking news. It delivers updates the fastest and has become a huge asset for me and my colleagues.

-One bit of advice for sports media students aspiring to get to where you are?

If you really want it… I mean, you want it so badly, there is no backup plan, then don’t give up. It will happen for you eventually, like it happened for me. Remain steadfast, committed, in times of discouragement.