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September 17, 2018

7 drone crashes that will make you fly your bird more carefully

by John_A

For drone pilots, there can be few things worse than watching helplessly as your bird smacks into a wall, tangles in a tree, or simply falls out of the sky. But sometimes it happens.

Quadcopters like the recently released Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom offer a whopping 10 sensors on all six sides of the machine, giving even the clumsiest of pilots the best chance of avoiding a calamitous mid-air crash. But sensors can sometimes get it wrong, resulting in the kind of wallet-wincing flight error that no one ever wants to experience.

While obstacle-avoidance sensors are now a must-have feature of any drone, the best way to keep your machine safe is to fly with your brain switched to the “common sense” position. As a reminder of just how wrong things can go, we’ve pulled together some crazy clips of spectacular drone crashes — ones that’ll make you think twice about pulling your favorite daredevil move …

An aerial fender-bender

Top tip:

Try to land your drone vertically onto the ground rather than horizontally into a car.

Here’s a gentle one to ease us into the potentially costly world of accidental drone crashes. The pilot describes himself as a beginner, and you’ll see why. Like most drone flights, it starts off well and there appears to be nothing to worry about as the quadcopter flies gently over land. But then, as it glides past the pilot and heads toward his car, you know there’s only going to be one outcome. And it’s not pretty.

Always wear a helmet

Top tip:

Always fly your drone above head height.

You’ll soon get tired of filming aerial shots of your home, so where to go next? This pilot had the idea to head to his local skate park to shoot some boarding buddies doing some tricks. The dramatic drone footage demonstrates some deft handling by the pilot and comfortably matches the boarder in terms of skill. Until the drone smashes into his head, that is.

The flight of parking lot Icarus

Top tip:

Lampposts are solid objects and will obstruct the path of anything that flies toward them. So check your surroundings thoroughly before you begin your drone flight.

Racing drones usually come with very little obstacle avoidance tech, so pilots really needs to know what they’re doing when they turn the speed dial all the way up to 11. This guy headed to a deserted parking lot to push his ‘copter to the limit, and he certainly seems to have the measure of his mean machine as it ducks and dives about the place … if only that darn lamppost hadn’t gotten in the way.

How to anger your landlord

Top tip:

Fly your drone through open windows, not closed ones.

This one’s a real beauty. Seen from the viewpoint of the pilot rather than the drone, the video shows the pilot carefully maneuvering the Mavic Pro out of an apartment window. After flying it around outside, the plan, presumably, was to carefully guide the quadcopter back into the apartment for a safe landing. But, demonstrating that we can’t always rely on a drone’s sensors to save it from a smash, the DJI drone has other ideas. We just hope there wasn’t anyone on the sidewalk down below.

Close encounters of the avian kind

Top tip:

Before taking off, look around to see if there are any angry-looking birds around.

There’s really nothing you can do when your drone is way up in the sky and you spot an eagle or hawk heading toward it. There’s no time to get your machine back on terra firma if the bird of prey is intent on taking it down. When this happens, it’s a case of crossing your fingers and hoping the inevitable drone crash doesn’t result in your machine breaking into bits when it slams into the ground. Although it probably will.

Watch out for that tree!

Top tip:

Do a dry run with the camera pointing ahead to flag up potential obstacles. Like tall trees.

Drone’s are bringing so many new possibilities to a huge number of industries, with movie-making one such beneficiary. Indeed, indie filmmakers, especially, were quick to realize the amazing benefits of a camera-equipped drone, with dramatic aerial shots adding an extra layer of professionalism to their work at very little cost. A popular drone shot used by filmmakers comes from tilting the camera directly down to the ground while flying forward. That’s precisely the kind of shot this drone operator was hoping for, and the clip looks extremely professional until the moment where it looks extremely amateurish.

Sleeping with the fishes

Top tip:

Unless your drone is made for going under water, then take great care to keep it dry at all times.

Here’s some more fun with a high-speed racing drone, except that this time, instead of a parking lot, we’re hurtling over rocks and water. The stunts are dramatic, and the pilot has to respond quickly to the changing terrain. You’d think that whizzing over the flat surface of the sea would be the easy part, but the pilot comes in just a little too steep and low before the video suddenly turns into a serene exploration of the sea bed.

‘Til drone do you part

Top tip:

Check with the bride and groom first to see if they mind having a drone fly straight toward them at great speed.

Wedding photographers traditionally keep their camera firmly in their hands, and as far as this particular photographer is concerned, it really should’ve stayed that way. Just a few seconds into the video and the drone comes down to Earth with a bump, an early indication of the awful drone smash that’s about to occur. No, we don’t know if the groom still has all his own teeth.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • DJI Mavic 2 Zoom review
  • The best drones of 2018
  • DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom review
  • DJI’s new Mavic drones are here, and they’re even better than we expected
  • The Best DJI Spark Accessories

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