This Guy Has to Be One of the Best Drone Pilots in The World

A few years ago I wrote about how YouTube opened up rallying to the world in a way that it never had before, taking the sport out of forests and onto screens everywhere. I didn’t expect the same of drones and drifting but here we are.


Not to cross over my metaphors too much, but the fun part about going to a drift event in person is kind of like being inside a YouTube video. But even then you get close to cars, watching them slide and smelling them roast tires. What you don’t get is to be inches away from them, at speed, on track.

That’s what drone ops like Mr Steele is for.

Watch his raw footage from the grassroots event Gridlife this year at Road Atlanta, possibly the first time drones like this got to fly the big track down there:

And here’s his cut and edited final film:

This guy was the talk of the drifting scene in America for a while after this came out. Everyone was telling tall tales about him landing on the roofs of cars:

But to see why this is bigger than just one guy flying a drone, you have to also look at Johnny FPV. He made waves with this video shot at a pro event around the same time, Formula Drift’s official round at St. Louis:

What’s amazing is that FD actually integrated his footage into the event broadcasts. I tuned in to the final round at Irwindale and watched with some annoyance that there was a little dot hovering over the frame on all the shots. It didn’t take me long to realize that was Johnny’s drone.


The footage seemed like a gimmick at first, up until the finals. Everyone watched as Fredric Aasbo’s yellow Corolla hit the wall while chasing Vaughn Gittin Jr.’s glowing green and grey Mustang. Outside camera angles only showed so much.

Johnny FPV’s footage showed the hit as it happened, flying directly behind Aasbo, low and fast and right with him.


FD uploads its full livestreams to YouTube, so if you skip ahead to 7:19:16 in the broadcast you get to see the whole thing.


That footage looks low-res only because it’s in a livestream. Johnny reposted the clip himself and you can see it in full resolution, looking like a video game.


I can’t get over how good these vids are. I need to hire one of these guys to do some videos. Well, I need to do anything that’s worthy of drone footage first, but right after that I’m calling Mr Steele.

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Raphael Orlove

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.