In a rather ironic segment of FOX & Friends last week, Dave Mosher from Popular Science was on to talk about the use of drones and the FAA’s recent actions regarding licensing requirements for certain drone operations. Unfortunately, he crashed the drone he was flying in the studio on live TV.
First of all, it was a pretty stupid move to fly a DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ in a crowned indoor area. There is all kinds WiFi interference floating around in a TV studio, which means that it’s not the best place to be flying a drone. Even DJI has heavy-duty nets to enclose the flight area when it demonstrates their capabilities at trade shows.
And all of the people in the immediate area makes matters even worse. Thankfully, he had propeller guards on the Phantom or it would have been much worse.
For his part, Mosher acknowledged the error and apologized to hobbyists for his mistake.
For the record: Flying indoors = bad idea. My plan was to just hover, then land. I apologize to hobbyists everywhere. #hindsight2020
— Dave Mosher (@DaveMosher) February 4, 2015
Unfortunately, the damage has been done with just terrible publicity to hobbyist pilots everywhere. There was no real discussion of safety standards and best practices for flying UAVs.
Additionally, there was no clear distinction made about the FAA’s rules for commercial versus hobbyist pilots other than the intro portion and some confusing statements in the middle. The combination of the two just muddied the water further.
The Academy of Model Aeronautics sent letters to both Fox News and Popular Science expressing its concern for the way the segment was conducted, calling it unsafe and irresponsible.
This demonstration set a poor example for those new to model aviation, and it goes against the message of safety that our community stands for. Basic research into safety precautions and common sense guidelines would have shown that this was not a responsible use of this technology. -AMA
Sadly, this segment did far more damage than good for the image of the bustling drone market.
I have reached out to DJI for comment on the FOX & Friends segment and will update this post with any response I receive.
[Updated Feb. 9, 2015]
I received a response from DJI regarding this incident, which is quoted below:
DJI is continually working to improve new pilot education and raise awareness of safe flying practices, which is why we have a checklist in the Vision app specifically discouraging new pilots from flying close to people and in areas with dense radio frequencies.
Without knowing the specifics of this demo, I can say that we do not recommend inexperienced pilots to fly indoors without GPS stabilization. Additionally flying nose forward (which changes orientation) and in an environment with significant radio frequency interference without netting is a challenge that we would discourage first time pilots from attempting.
As noted in my original article above, we have no idea whether radio interference played a roll in this crash; however, the comments from DJI regarding flying nose forward seem to echo the consensus among experienced hobbyists who are joining the conversation about this incident in the comments below and in other forums around the web.