Requiem for a fallen drone


While getting what I’m sure was THE most amazing footage of the sunset over the frozen lake near my home yesterday, the beloved new Bugz drone that Denise just bought me decided that it had someplace better to be :(

Here’s its first flight, which was on Christmas Day:

I only got to fly it only a handful of times before I figured I was ready to send it straight up as high as I reasonably could. Turns out that was an reasonably bad idea. While there was no wind on the ground and the high clouds seemed quite slow moving, there must’ve been quite a breeze at about 1000-feet because it drifted very unreasonably up the nearby canyon.

As I tried to navigate it back to me, I got the dreaded “beep” on the conroller that meant it was going out of range. It has a range of about 1500-feet with line of sight. But that line of sight soon disappeared as it blew behind some trees and then ridge line.

My heart raced and my stomach sank as I ran around the side of the ridge to re-establish visual contact. At first I thought I had it! I saw a black speck in the direction that the drone went, and frantically tried again to calmly navigate it. Y’know “fly casual”, as it were. But a few long seconds later I realized it was a hawk that I’d spotted, and I remembered that hawks are very well-known for their lack of responsiveness to drone controllers.

Because I could still faintly hear buzzing somewhere, I made a last ditch effort to get a visual on it by cranking both knobs to full forward and full lift, while searching the sky. It never got the command though, as the controller kept beeping in relentless Uh-Oh mode.

I turned the beeping controller in my hands off. I closed my eyes, swiveled my head, and strained to hear the faint hum of the four blades, trying to get some sense of direction to go look for it.

Nothing. [sigh!] And that was that.

Perhaps I’ll find it sometime in the Spring. I do like to hike & backpack up around Funk’s Canyon and into the Manti La Sal National Forest anyway, so now I have an excuse. The drone does have my name and phone number on it, too. So if someone else finds it first, I might get a call?

The drone also had my GoPro with my best SD card in it. The SD card by itself is probably worth more than the drone or the GoPro. Today was an expensive lesson in droning.

Your condolences, insults, and shared stories of pain are most welcome in the comments.

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