The millions of Americans who spent the Fourth of July outside watching fireworks displays can now relive their experience from above, rather than from lawn chairs far beneath the action. In the days since Independence Day, a number of videos recorded by drones have surfaced online, giving viewers a previously unseen view into the stunning explosions as they happened.

Perhaps the most exciting video was captured in the skies over West Palm Beach, Florida, before this year’s celebration but still managed to go viral in the days after July 4, 2014. The video had only a few views when it was posted in May, but began attracting millions of views as it spread on social media. The user, named Jos Stinglingh, explained that he captured the breathtaking images with a DJI Phantom 2 “quadcopter” drone with a GoPro Hero 3 silver camera attached.

A video recorded this year captured the explosions as more than 215,000 people filled downtown Nashville, Tennessee, to take in the “Let Freedom Ring” display. Local entrepreneur Robert Hartline told WSMV in Nashville that he attached his own GoPro to a quadcopter and was able to capture nearly 20 minutes of the fireworks show until the batteries died moments before the finale. He explained that, while some people might be justifiably nervous about how drones are used, they have proven their worth by giving pilots an insight that would have been impossible to find before.

“I’ve heard negative connotations, like, ‘This is spying on me,” he told WSMV. “I’ve never used it for that purpose. I just use it to make really awesome video.”


Two brothers in Richmond, Virginia, didn’t use a drone to record the fireworks but did have a GoPro camera on hand for their kayaking excursion when bright lights and explosions made themselves visible over the Hollywood Rapids, where the two where paddling.

“It was an amazing experience,” said John Nestler who, along with his brother Matthew, spoke to Richmond’s CBS affiliate. “Smoke and fire radiated from the bottom of Belle Isle as we passed by, and the rapids added a whole different dimension to the experience.”