What it’s Prefer to Fly a Drone Close to a Volcano… And Then Crash It

If you happen to watched the information or have been linked to the web the primary week of June, likelihood is good that you’ve seen a video of a drone crashing into an erupting volcano. Properly, that drone was mine and it acquired utterly disintegrated. In my newest video, I share what it’s prefer to fly a drone round a volcano and what it’s a must to look out for.

To begin with, as fellow digicam nerds, let’s get the gear query out of the way in which: on this journey to the volcano, I hiked out with each the DJI Mavic 2 Professional and my latest acquisition: the DJI FPV drone. The explanation why I made a decision to take each drones is that they serve very completely different functions for us filmmakers.

The Mavic 2 Pro with its one-inch sensor, variable aperture, and extremely secure flight traits allowed me to movie sluggish pans and tilts even in low gentle situations. The DJI FPV, alternatively, has a far inferior digicam however its maneuverability offers it not solely a novel flight expertise but additionally a glance that solely FPV drones can present. After some grading magic in post-production, you may nonetheless get some decent images out of it. I additionally shot on the bottom with a RED Komodo and a Canon R6.

It doesn’t matter what drone you’re flying with there are few stuff you want to remember when flying a drone round an energetic volcano.

To begin with: turbulence. As a volcano erupts, sizzling gasses are emitted and the air above the lava stream is heated as much as extraordinarily excessive temperatures. This sizzling air combined with colder Atlantic winds widespread in Iceland may cause vital turbulence that’s close to inconceivable to foretell. This consists of air pockets of much less dense air the place your drone may all of the sudden drop or updrafts that simply push it round.

These thermal drafts are significantly felt when flying FPV drones in guide mode, with none GPS assist or stabilization. If you happen to don’t listen for only a second it may very properly be the final flight… like it was in my case. For a extra detailed description of the crash itself, skip to 4:19 within the video above.

If you happen to grasp the winds one other phenomenon distinctive to some volcanic eruptions can hit you… and your drone: raining rocks. As a few of the lava mixes with the air throughout the eruption, very gentle rocks are fashioned and catapulted into the air, and carried lots of of meters away from the crater. Relying on the dimensions, these could not destroy the drone itself however may injury the propellers or digicam lens.

Lastly, timing is all the pieces. For one of the best outcomes, you’ll need to mix the climate situations (Iceland has some loopy winds even with out the volcanic updrafts), the appropriate daylight (golden and blue hour work greatest, after all), or the volcanic eruption itself. I gave myself 4 days to seize this volcano — which was erupting like a geyser each seven to 10 minutes — to make sure I’d be capable of movie it in varied situations and from completely different angles. There have been definitely many occasions once I couldn’t fly the drones attributable to excessive winds, that’s once I focussed on capturing this spectacle with my RED Komodo.

Throughout my journey, I filmed a staggering quantity of footage, a lot of which I’ll launch on my channel over the following weeks and months. So make sure that to subscribe to my YouTube channel and tag alongside behind the scenes on my Instagram.


In regards to the writer: Joey Helms is a Chicago-based Inventive Director and Video Director greatest identified for crashing a drone into an erupting volcano. His work focuses on the documentary model as he tells tales from across the globe. He’s working a semi-successful YouTube channel the place he shares his work and tutorials for many who wish to take the following step of their filmmaking journey and use cinema gear.

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