From the Field: Epic Drone Fail

My Saturday morning started off with beautiful, epic aerials, soaring over horses in their pastures and climbing into the sky to reveal a gorgeous, January sunrise over the Indiana landscape. Unfortunately, the 5 degree temperatures seem to have had their way with some of the automation systems in my GoPro Karma drone, and I quickly had what can only be described as an epic fail, with my Karma losing its compass and promptly planting itself 30 feet in the air – in the nearest oak tree.

Getting it down was no small feat, as the cleverly designed camera gimbal on the front of the drone acted like a handy hook, keeping the drone hanging nicely from a branch on an unclimbable tree.

I recruited my wife to help me, as she commandeered the horse trailer, pulling it around so that I could stand on top of it. We then lashed three barn brooms together with duct tape to reach the body of the drone. I was able to hook the landing skid with the hook on the end of my pole, but couldn’t pull the drone off of the branch because of it being so securely hooked on the gimbal mount.

In the end, I ended up having to knock it down with the broom end of my contraption, and its fall to the ground, even though being slowed by Amber trying to catch it, was its most damaging journey. Had I been able to retrieve it without dropping it, all I would have had to deal with would be broken props. However, the fall from the tree broke the right front prop arm.

Nothing is unfixable. It’s just a worrying mystery to me why the compass failed in the middle of my flight, leading to the drone piloting itself into a tree. Hmmmm….


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