Drone Hits Honolulu Skyscraper. Twice.

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The web is littered with videos of drone crashes. Some of them are pretty spectacular, but fortunately few of them are captured in Hawaii. But last weekend, a local quadcopter pilot created one of Honolulu’s most memorable entries.

In a video posted to YouTube, we watch and listen as a DJI Phantom quadcopter loses contact with its controller, then automatically and unfortunately heads straight into the side of a skyscraper (the 33-story 909 Kapiolani condo tower). But wait! After a few heart-stopping seconds of tumbling, the drone makes a very unlikely mid-air recovery, stabilizes itself and regains altitude.

Its second chance at survival is short lived, however, as it resumes its suicide mission, flying right back into the side of the same building a second time. The craft finally crashes noisily into a planter on the building’s deck.

As quadcopters — commonly but controversially called drones — become increasingly popular (especially this past Christmas), accidents and poor judgement are making headlines more often. This Honolulu incident wasn’t picked up nearly as widely as the drone that crashed on the White House lawn, but the video has racked up nearly 100,000 views in less than two weeks. And from the comments, it’s clear other quadcopter pilots are apoplectic over the poor judgement that resulted in the crash.

“Don’t fly your drone near other people until you have mastered it, you’re going to ruin it for everyone,” says one. “People like you are the reason these will be banned or require a strict permit… WTF are you doing flying near buildings while being such a rookie?”

Interestingly, the video was posted by a resident of the building, not by the pilot. The resident recovered what was left of the quadcopter, posted the video, then posted about it on Reddit to try and find the craft’s owner. The owner separately posted a lost and found entry to Craigslist, and the two were able to connect.

In responding to comments on the video, where many people were urging him to keep the quadcopter or turn it over to the police, the resident explained what happened, saying it was the pilot’s “first time flying.”

“I think in hindsight this is what I should have done, taken it to the police, [but] I already returned it to the owner, which was my first instinct,” he writes. “It was quite far from its launch site at this point, over a quarter mile and flying for about 12 minutes… I hope the owner at least has learned his lesson and will be a little safer going forward.”

And while the resident didn’t keep the quadcopter, he is keeping the YouTube views, and even making a little money off the video (as the video is now set to monetize through advertising, and offers licensing through JukinVideo).

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2 Responses

  1. Mokihana says:

    It kinda sounded like a gigantic mosquito!

  1. September 2, 2015

    […] the media fans the flames of outrage prompted by drone pilots who are certainly behaving badly, there is some encouraging news this week for UAV enthusiasts committed to doing the right […]

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