IT is every drone owner’s worst nightmare — the batteries going flat over the ocean.

But Doubleview filmmaker Ryan Chatfield’s extraordinary sprint to catch his remote controlled gadget before it plunged into the ocean is becoming the stuff of legend on YouTube.

The 34-year-old was filming the hazy sunset over Floreat beach on Monday night when disaster struck and the batteries died.

But he sprinted 200m along the beach, clambered over rocks and put his body on the line to snatch his drone to safety just 30cm before it hit the water.

“I’ve only had the drone for a couple of weeks and it was probably a rookie error, but I checked the battery and thought I’d have enough for the shot,” he said.

“Once the battery gets to a certain point it goes into reserve mode and you lose all control.

It goes up 15m and then begins to come down at a designated descend rate.

“I stood there dumbfounded and then I realised what was going to happen and I thought, “I better have a crack at this. This is do or die’.”

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  • Staged.... But what a great marketing scheme for his company!

  • I just tried this in a phantom 1 and I had horizontal control. Doesn't nesaarily draw parallels to the phantom 2, however.
  • @healthyfatboy

    APM even in land mode still allows you to reposition on the horizontal axis.  If he had that he could have moved it forwards to safety.  A direct descent vertically down with no control is not good and really isn't compliant with 'controlling' your model, which most countries have as a requirement.

  • Moderator

    Just putting a countdown timer on the TX that starts when you raise the throttle would save lots of people lots of drama. 

  • Developer
    Considering he runs on sand and then over rocks in about 20 seconds, I'd guess about 50m away. Unless he can beat Usain Bolts 19.19s 200m record. :-p
  • Developer

    I'm a little more disturbed by his lame music and the poor kerning on his title screen. Boo.

  • I think the Phantom has two failsafe options - "Land Immediately" and "Return Home". Assuming this is real, he may have had it set for immediate landing rather than return.


    The indicator lights are on the back of the Phatom. He was filming facing towards himself so if he didn't have an OSD with voltage, he wouldn't have seen the battery warning.


  • T3

    Same thoughts as Acorn. I think it was staged to get views, although it may have happened spontaneously, I have my doubts.


    Uh, the APM has that feature too so while it may seem stupid, for people that don't fly over the ocean or hazardous areas, that's a valid failsafe action. Luckily for us, we can remove that pretty easily if we don't like it.

  • I feel like the last time I flew a Phantom, I still had horizontal control when it went into its low battery descent. 

    @ kolin

    I guess the idea is that it won't let itself get to a point where the motors can't sustain and it drops like a rock.

    Considering the target market, who don't seem to mind flying the quad to the point where it has to enter this mode, I think it's a pretty good feature. 

    Keep in mind that on the vision models, a window pops up on the screen warning the pilot that the aircraft will enter RTL in 15 seconds due to low battery. If they choose to ignore the warning, it goes into this descending mode shortly after. 

  • Staged.
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