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Casey Neistat celebrates the 4th of July by drone surfing on New York City’s East River [video]

To celebrate the 4th of July, Casey Neistat just released this video on YouTube of him drone surfing on New York City’s East River. A lot of the footage in the short film is really quite stunning as the city provides an awesome backdrop for all his stunts, not just in this video. Regardless of what you think of his FAA rules-breaking drone flying, you have to admit that Casey has a nick for attention-grabbing videos. Check out his latest video and the behind the scenes video below and let us know what you think. Is he celebrating the 4 of July or his seemingly independence of the drone rules that do apply to the rest of us?


Casey Neistat has made it somewhat of a tradition to release attention-grabbing videos around important holidays such as Christmas and the Fourth of July. Often times his videos include drones and this one is no different. Working together with his friends Elaine and Justin from DroneWorks, they set out to create a stunning drone surfing video on New York City’s East River.

Cool as it may be, many drone pilots will be scratching their heads after watching this video. How is Casey able to pull off these drone flying stunts in the NYC area? Does he (or DroneWorks) fly the drone as a commercial operation or as hobbyists like they tried to argue last time? Do they get a waiver from the FAA? Do they clear their flight with for instance La Guardia Airport, which is only a stone’s throw away from where they were flying. Or are they just winging it and are simply lucky to get away with it every time. It seems ridiculous to deny that these drone operations are anything but commercial though.

Just take a look at Casey’s massive following on YouTube and other social media channels and you will realize how valuable clips like these are. For reference, every 1,000 views on YouTube are worth anywhere from $2 to $4. Some estimate that for big players like Casey those numbers might be even double that. With already more than 665,000 views within the first 24 hours of posting You do the math.

Now take a look at Airmap’s map of where they were flying their drone. There is a lot going on there from La Guardia Airport, the correctional facility at Rikers Island, Trump’s golf course, power plants, heliports, the list goes on.

From previous posts, I know that the opinions vary a lot when it comes to Casey’s drone flying. Therefore I’m curious to hear your opinion. Please take the poll below and let us and other drone pilots know what you think.


Behind the scenes


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Avatar for Haye Kesteloo Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Main Writer at DroneDJ, where he covers all drone related news and writes product reviews. He also contributes to the other sites in the 9to5Mac group such as; 9to5Mac, 9to5Google, 9to5Toys and Electrek. Haye can be reached at or @hayekesteloo