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I flew the Phantom a couple of times the first day without incident. I was also having some trouble with the GPS lock.
The 727 that Vanished
The light would go green after takeoff, and the GPS would help me stabilize against the wind for the most part, but occasionally it cut out, and the lights would blink red for 10 or 20 seconds, before finding the signal again. The next day I took the Phantom out in the middle of the afternoon. I was about 50 feet off the ground, doing some speed runs to the tree line and back.
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At some point the GPS signal must have dropped again, because the light switched from green to red. I brought the unit to a halt, hovering it in front of me. At this point I panicked. So I decided the best thing to do was go to ground. I killed the rotors and listened with horror to the sound of my Phantom impacting into concrete.
I think all this happened in less than two or three seconds. I came running around to the front of the house and found a woman on a bike, stopped by the side of the road. On the back was a small child in a bike seat. Both were wearing helmets.
Smoking passenger forces El Al flight to make unscheduled landing
My Phantom was strewn across the road in several pieces. It was hard to tell how far in front of the drone they had been when it came down, but they were clearly shocked. A few seconds earlier, a few feet to the other side, and it could easily have come down on them instead. There is no way to say exactly what would have happened, but a heavy object falling out of the sky, striking someone in the head, at which point they crash their bike, certainly could have ended in serious injury or worse.
The woman and her child just sort of stared in shock, as if they had seen a UFO.
I went back into the house, shaken and upset. I felt ashamed of my poor piloting, my poor decision making, and a mixture of guilt and fear at the near accident. I resolved then and there never to fly the drone anywhere even close to other people and without a GPS lock. The thing is, there are basically zero regulations in the U. There is no age requirement or learner's permit necessary to purchase a drone.
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When it comes to commercial drone flights, on the other hand, the FAA has made them completely illegal in the US. The FAA is in a terrible position right now.
The reality of what drones can do, and how many people are doing it, has already outrun the rules in place. People are using them, legally but dangerously, and companies are using them, often illegally. It will brighten your inbox every Saturday morning. Chat with us in Facebook Messenger. Find out what's happening in the world as it unfolds.
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Download PDF Flying With Ben (own story)
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