A drone deployed to capture the action at Henley Royal Regatta crashed onto a spectator's boat after malfunctioning. The drone incident happened last Wednesday when the device collided with the Celtic Queen, a hard-topped boat.
It was witnessed by Playhatch resident Robin Page, who was aboard his boat, PageBoy.
“It had been hovering at about 300 feet, and I saw it drop vertically out of the sky and had clearly lost all control. Passengers were standing just 3 feet from the impact, and one passenger had a piece of debris in his hand,” Page reportedly said. “The drone piece sank immediately. Had it landed on the passengers, it would have killed them or caused serious injury.”
“Had it landed on my open-style boat or on any other of the majority of regatta open-style boats there would have been death or very serious injury. Flying drones this weight and size directly above people seems bonkers and totally irresponsible, particularly where there is open water.”
“I note that they continued to fly drones from Phyllis Court Club despite this accident and were totally unaware if the fault was a mechanical, technical or other.”
Drone incident reported to AAIB
Sunset+Vine, the contractor who controlled the drone, had been filming the races for the regatta's YouTube channel.
“At the conclusion of Wednesday morning's racing, the drone being flown on behalf of the regatta's production partner experienced an equipment malfunction,” a regatta spokeswoman said. “This resulted in a collision between the drone and a private vessel. No one was hurt and the regatta has continued to broadcast as normal. The drone was unserviceable for the balance of the regatta but we look forward to its safe return to the production of our live coverage in 2023.”
The Celtic Queen's owner declined to comment.
While we don't know what type of drone was used, based on the description, it sounds like it might have been a larger commercial drone. For instance, a DJI Matrice 210, which happens to be known for falling out of the sky because of battery issues.
Photo courtesy of the Henley Standard.
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