America’s bird isn’t sharing the skies.
A bald eagle over Lake Michigan attacked and destroyed a government drone, which plummeted 162-feet into the Great Lake, MLive.com reported.
Environmental quality inspector and drone operator Hunter King had been out on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, on the western side of the lake, tracking shoreline erosion near Escanaba on July 21.
King was about seven minutes into the task, flying a $995 Phantom 4 Pro Advanced quadcopter, before he began experiencing communication issues with the device. He reportedly used a “Go Home” recall button on the device controller which automatically set the drone on a course back to the pilot at a measly 22 miles per hour.
The drone, which the bird of prey took for a threat, was no match for the adult bald eagle — others like it have been known to reach top speeds around 99 miles per hour. The mid-air crash sent the gear spiraling down, falling at a rate of 30-feet per second, but not before sending out sent 27 warning signals in the 3.5 seconds that it took to hit water below.
“It was like a really bad rollercoaster ride,” said King in a statement published Thursday on Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy website — the department, coincidentally, shortens its name to EGLE.
Two local birdwatchers, who saw the entire calamity go down, reported that the eagle had appeared to fly away with no sign of injury.
Data later revealed that the drone had landed 150-feet offshore in shallow water, just four feet. Days later, the EGLE tasked their unmanned aircraft systems coordinator Arthur Ostaszewski to kayak out where the drone had landed and snorkel for it. However, the tannin-steeped water provided “near-zero” visibility for the diver. After shuffling and swimming through shallow water for two hours, the data analyst wrapped his search.
The experience was “like I was playing Battleship and wanted to cover the entire board,” Ostaswewski said.
In the future, they suggested that a bird-like disguise for the device might prevent future attacks.
“The attack could have been a territorial squabble with the electronic foe, or just a hungry eagle. Or maybe it did not like its name being misspelled,” the EGLE joked.
Source: New York Post
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