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Drones to Swoop In Over Ketchum
Thursday, July 8, 2021


There’s been much ado about UFOs lately. But the big to-do about Sun Valley this coming weekend will be the drones.

More than 200 drones will take to the sky Saturday and Sunday night as The Argyros presents “The Journey of Light.”

The 10-minute show will be launched from Atkinsons’ Park about 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 10-11, in the skies over Ketchum. The illuminated synchronized choreographed drones will arrange themselves into various aerial formations set to a simulcast by KDPI 88.5 FM or

“It’s the first public drone show in Ketchum, said Margaret Hamamoto, development director for The Argyros. “It’s something theatrical, something fun, something new for all to enjoy.”

Drones, which perform via a computer program that communicates flight commands to them, are the hot new show in the sky. Some replaced fireworks shows this year in communities worried about the use of fireworks in dry conditions.

Hyundai used 3,281 drones to create its logo over Shanghai’s skyline earlier this year. And the Texas-based Sky Elements Drone Shows, which is putting Ketchum’s show on, is coming to Ketchum from the Texas Motor Speedway where it flew a drone light show for the NASCAR All Star Race.

Hamamoto said the drone show was one of the ideas to come out of a brainstorming session in January and February as those at The Argyros considered what the world was going to look like as it emerged from the pandemic.

Some of the configurations will reflect the West; some will be endemic to the Wood River Valley, thanks to imput from Casey Mott, The Argyros’ executive director.

The drones can fly up to 400 feet in winds up to 35 miles per hour. They are visible for a mile away. They generally cost about two to four times as much as a fireworks show of the same length, depending on how many drones and technicians are used.

And high altitude wears the batteries out quicker than low.

Sky Elements is bringing a team of six, including a supervisor with an FAA pilot’s license and an UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) pilot’s license.

“The City of Ketchum was gracious enough to grant us a waiver for its Dark Sky Ordinance for just a short period of time,” said Hamamoto.

The Argyros stationed several people around Ketchum a couple weeks ago to test various spots for watching the show. It will be visible in an area bordered by the bridge at Warm Springs, Festival Meadows (provided you position yourself away from Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church) and Serenade Lane at Ketchum’s south end.

“It’s safe, family-friendly and not a fire hazard,” said Hamamoto.

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