Operation Drone Rescue

Rescuing a Drone with a Drone

When [Harrison Howes] lost his Syma X5C drone on a neighbor’s roof, he thought all hope was lost. There was no easy access to get up there, and the neighbor wasn’t interested in him attempting a rescue. Months past, and [Harrison] got a new quad. And not just any quad — a DJI Phantom 3 Professional. It was time to attempt an aerial rescue operation!

Using some old coat hangers and some green painter’s tape for visibility, [Harrison] crafted two hooks to hang below the Phantom. He also tilted the FPV module straight down for maximum visibility of the rescue.

Set to the soundtrack of No Time for Caution by Hans Zimmer (from Intersteller), watch our hero deftly air lift his old quad off the roof and back to safety.

Nice work [Harrison]. But as one Reddit user points out rather jokingly:

Wait, did you spend $2000 to rescue your old drone instead of getting a ladder?

Yup. But anyone with a drone knows you can’t just have one. Oh, and as for his sweet slippers? His girlfriend got them for him. Or were they hers…

[via reddit]

58 thoughts on “Operation Drone Rescue

    1. First off, some friend flying a drone over someone’s house. Yeah, I can see exactly why the neighbor wasn’t too keen on letting this guy up there to get it. Drones are already getting a lot of negative attention.

    2. Video Title: Drone Rescue.
      Straight from the above article: Syma X5C drone

      It has a camera, it was flying over someone’s house. What part of _that_ don’t you understand? If these morons don’t rein in their stupidity, someone else is going to do it for them and we’re not going to like it.

      1. Sadly, you are technically correct by media standards but a drone these are not. Drones have all the sensors necessary to automate flying and can fly routes without any human input after launch. Also the term is typically reserved for aircraft used to spy on other nations or deliver a missile payload. A quadcopter with a camera does not mean drone. It means RC helicopter with some upgrades. The fear mongering has to stop or the RC hobby will get unnecessary laws.

        1. It’s a UAV.
          This is not a hobby RC aircraft that you fly requiring line-of-sight for operation.
          It’s a form of Drone that allows remote operation and surveillance by a pilot.

          There is too much stupidity out there…
          While it’s not ‘defined’ as a drone, unless it’s using it’s gps to autonomously fly it is still violating air space. I’d be much happier with a fixed wing R/C plane flying over my home than an unmanned *copter with an FPV setup.
          Perfect example during that rescue; What if the owner was tanning nude in the back-yard? There is a reason people are shooting these things out of the sky.

          (This comes back to those little electric scooters you see on the road.. they are not a motor-vehicle, so they drive on the side-walk.. but wait, they want to be a motorcycle so they drive in the road.. but wait again, it’s not a motorcycle so they can pull U-turns in the streets and cut traffic off. What do these things have in common? Lack of consideration and education by the pilot/driver.)

        2. “Drones have all the sensors necessary to automate flying and can fly routes without any human input after launch.”

          Errr nope. Drone’s by all english definitions are aircraft that can be operated remotely. Some dictionaries add to the definition out of line of sight. But there’s no requirement for a drone to be autonomous and many military drones aren’t either. Which brings me to:

          “Also the term is typically reserved for aircraft used to spy on other nations or deliver a missile payload.”

          No the term describes an item. Just because 15 years ago the military were the only ones who could afford one does not mean they have reserved the use of the word. A tank is a tank regardless of whether it is used to wage war on an enemy or whether I drive one down the street.

      1. Amazing, cringe-worthy photos, thanks for the link. Certainly demonstrates the importance of adequate education, warnings, common sense (applies to so many hobbies/crafts/sports). Would prop guards (saw a DJI video earlier today showing them) have prevented most of those injuries?

      2. I’ve seen worse from RC gas powered planes. Nothing new. Look up lawnmower and table saw accidents. Things with moving parts can hurt people. Don’t bother being pedantic about how drones can fly around and lawnmowers can’t. First, there’s a common RC plane that is shaped like a lawnmower; second I’ll post the link of a little girl chopped to pieces when her dad backed up his riding mower, no flying required. Too many hating on drones without reason.

    3. “I don’t really see how any harm was caused here…”
      That is exactly the reason that UAV/quadrotors/drones are getting bad press in the media. Operators not taking into account the thoughts and feelings of others outside of the hobby. In recent news I’m sure the operators of drones didn’t see any harm in flying in the vicinity of recent California brush fires in an effort to capture video of the event.
      I also hate the use of the term drone, however that is what the general public calls them so it has become an accepted term.
      Remember, in the end UAV pilots represent a tiny minority of the voting public. If irresponsible operators continue to make a nuisance of themselves then other agencies will step in and regulate the hobby that we enjoy.

  1. Yeah now that I own a house and know all the ins and outs… no way Im letting some bozo walk around on my roof. If he so much as displaces a shingle particle Im suing on principle to keep the guy from flying over my property again.

    1. Could you get it, or use a long stick? Do kids who accidentally throw their frisbee on your roof end up having whacky, zany adventures trying to get it back only to realise in the end that you are grumpy because you are lonely and the whole thing ends with some Disney credits?

      1. No, I suspect that kids who accidentally throw their frisbee on mstixa’s roof end up having whacky, zany adventures trying to get it back only to end up with six months in juvenile detention and a rap sheet which includes “reclessly throwing a missile”, “damage of property with a missile”, “trespass” and ends with a DMCA request on the youtube video documenting their adventures

        1. Seriously? You idiots would let a stranger walk around on your roof?
          Obviously neither of you own homes, or at the very least don’t care about being sued into oblivion by someone who fell off your roof while trying to rescue a cheap toy.

          1. Nope. I would hop up there in about 5 seconds and get it for them before they finished asking, in the winter, torrential rain, whatever. I’m not a anti social asshole and I understand that shit happens. Kids playing with drones? Cool. I will support them however I can. Heck, I wouldn’t have problems with them climbing on my roof either, but I can jump up there via my tree route and accomplish the task much faster. I’m not worried about being sued. That is what my homeowners insurance (and umbrella policy) is for – preventing some very remote outcome manifest itself in scared little man anti social behaviors). If you have some asshole hell bent on seeking punitive damages by injuring themselves on your property there is nothing you can do to stop them. surprise surprise it doesn’t happen often and you only reinforce the the rare yet highly popularized (by lawyers and insurance agents) notions of behavior that are destroying our neighborhoods and connections to each other. I hope you don’t let your kid leave the yard either; there are probably pedos waiting in the bushes. THANKS MAN!

          2. (Replying to Gerry since no reply is available that deep in)

            Yeah right.. You’ll get it in a rainstorm.. Ill take video from an unbiased 3rd party of that pile of bs before its believable. People that spout that kind of thing are ever so helpful until it actually comes time to do it, and almost always are the loudest at moaning about how much of a pita it is.

            So your umbrella insurance policy is to allow you to overcompensate against acting like for haing ‘scared little man anti-social behaviors’ by reverting back to a man child and hopping from tree to your roof. Responsibility for any accident here? Why the insurance company of course! Socialize that risk so that you can appear to be more of a man in front of your 12 year old peers instead of actually helping to curb the anti-social,irresponsible, and disrespectful acts of a minority set in the community.

            I bet you drive a really big truck too.

      2. I could, and likely would. Along with a warning to stop flying over my house in the first place.

        As far as t eh kid, I have been that kid. I would likely get that for them as well. If the actions were repeated Id talk to their parents about not playing frisbee or baseball or whatever right next to my house. Just like when I was a kid.

        The difference here is that the drone pilot is a grown adult, purposefully flying a piloted object over my house. It isn’t a minor throwing a toy that sometimes just gets out of hand. ..kids are not supposed to be responsible, adults are.

        1. The ‘kid’ here has a beard and is well into his 20’s.

          And apart from the invasion of privacy there is also the noise drones make, which can not only be annoying but also scare pets into a fit imagine.

          Plus it’s illegal to fly drones over people’s houses, and not because it’s ‘owned airspace’ btw.

          Having said that, I’d probably still get the drone for the perp if I could, just because it’s almost as anti-social to not to as it is to fly drones over people’s houses..

    2. I may be wrong about this, but in the USA, a home owner/land owner does NOT own the airspace above his/her property, right? Meaning, it IS LEGAL to fly a quadcopter/drone over someone’s house… so long as the purpose is not to unreasonably annoy or invade privacy (covered by other laws). Without knowing the details, it’s hard to speculate whether the homeowner in this case was being careful or a butt.

      1. A bit of both actually. Yes in the U.S. we don’t own our own airspace. We do however own our own roofs. ..and providing a safe landing zone that will willingly retrieve your flying camera after you’ve gotten done surveying my property and whatever else is not a way to discourage that behavior.

        Im generally a nice guy that frequently helps strangers out when they are in need. ..stuck by the side of the road, I have been the guy that stops to help change a tire, or provide CPR or the Heimlich.

        It is also unclear in this scenario whether the pilot was just being an ass or not.

        1. Further… I saved my reference look up for after coffee.. :p
          As you might imagine the simplified redneck version of the law i.e. ‘you don’t own your airspace’ or any 1 sentence legal explanation, and the actual law often vary significantly. This especially true when your dealing with an industrialized country like the u.s., activities like flight that have immense public safety concerns, and a large federal agency like the FAA that has been around for 50+ years.

          Drones in widespread public use are a fairly new phenomenon, and the federal government gears are slow to turn. Just recently small UAVs have been legally declared aircraft in the u.s. which was has plusses and minuses for those involved, and the special loophole they had in the law is being closed.

          We’ve been dealing with planes, low flying planes, and surly landowners since post WWI years. Thats a good long history.

          Heres a decent, relatively short explanation of the law around airspace in the u.s.

          You’ll note that it isn’t just ‘we own it, you can suck it’ on either side. Its a nuanced judgement call that includes the ‘enjoyment of the property’. This is something interuptable by low flying crop dusters as well as a drone hovering outside your window with a high end camera on board.

          As a property owner its my responsibility to guard my rights as a property owner against threats. If I don’t those threats will become the norm. Right now new balance is being found between fliers newly claiming low altitude airspace and the property owners underneath. So far much of the publicized conduct of the UAV operators hasn’t been that of responsible operators keeping safety and property rights in mind. That conduct has been to act with impunity and assume that others have to accept it no matter what their conduct.

          It is in this atmosphere that I find it better to be on the side of ‘being a butt’ instead of going out of my way to enable someone else who has taken no second thought about my feelings until it came to correcting their mistake.

  2. Should have left a flaming bag of dog poo in place of the recovered quad.

    If he didnt want unmanned aircraft over his property then he should have taken the initiative to build and install an anti-aircraft pellet gun to defend his airspace.

    1. Hell… if I was the neighbor I woulda been like ‘no, I wont let you up on my roof. But, say… you wouldn’t happen to know of anyone looking to sell a Syma X5C controller and charger for cheap would you?’

      1. if you want him to respect your possessions you would naturally have to respect his as well, that he flies above your property does not make the quad defacto yours.


          1. Nope.. If some parks their supercar on your lawn, it doesn’t make it yours. They are interfering with the ‘use and enjoyment’ of your property so you CAN have it towed. There is nothing about this scenario that transfers ownership.

  3. From the video description: “Two Months ago my roommate drunkenly lost my small drone on a neighbors roof.”

    Yeah it’s cool that he was able to rescue the drone, but I’m not real wild about his responsibility as a drone owner.

  4. Does anyone in drone fighting use silly string or that multi-strand light but strong plastic “twine”? Either would bring down a drone of this scale. String, twine, rope, or cable what ever it takes to bring em down. If shot in a high arc to come down into the suck side, this will work from ground or rooftop.
    Ladder? That’s 2 and a half or 3 story housing!

    1. I usually forget that a good number of my internet comrades are basement dwelling neck beards and are not awesome in all ways. for example owning a 24 ft ladder to crawl all over their roof for fun. This was in fact my first purchase as a homeowner, ensuring access to all aspects of my building. Personally, I prefer climbing a SW tree and jumping onto the roof. I’d encourage anyone who was initially undaunted at the adventurous prospect to give it a try.

  5. Hell, I’ll say it. If some guy came knocked on my door and said he lost his RC craft on my roof and needed help, guess what? I’d help him get it down. You can all keep pretending you are Clint Eastwood, I’ll be the neighbor people like.

      1. I wouldn’t let him up there, but I would be fine helping him out and getting it for him. I go on my roof (reluctantly, as I am scared of heights) on a sparse but regular basis to clean gutters and make sure things are looking good.

      2. Who said anything about letting someone else traipse around on my roof? I’d go get it, at my convenience. If it happened again I’d be a little less eager to help. No need to be a dick about it.

  6. I don’t care when my neighbor’s quadcopter flies overhead. I think all the anti-quadcopter comentors need to just relax and let others have their fun a little. Seriously, it’s the city. Even with my tall fence I’d be an idiot to expect real privacy outdoors. The neighbors can see over that from their upstairs bedroom windows! People driving by in a tall vehicle might even get a little peek, especially if there is a hill.

    Oh.. you don’t live in the city? Maybe you do get a greater expectation of privacy. But… who’s flying their toy all the way to your house? What are the odds? You are all set to shoot one down? I suppose you are prepared for terrorists, a meteor strike and martians too huh? It must be nice to have time to worry about such low probability events.

    But, would I let my neighbor get his quad off my roof? Hell no! Shingles are delicate and expensive! I’d use my own ladder, climb up to the nearest edge and fish it to myself with a stick. Only if he made a regular habit out of it would I get all pissy and say no, you can’t have your toy back!

    1. It shows a level of irresponsibility for someone to drunkenly fly a toy over someone elses property.

      Just imagine “back in your day” if you threw a tennis ball over someone elses house. They wouldnt be too keen for you to get that ball back.

  7. I think what is going to happen is that cities are going to make it illegal to fly any remote controlled anything within city limits unless you have a commercial license to do so or are in an area set apart for recreational flying.
    Its all fun and games until a drone lands on a kid and kills them, then it’s manslaughter.
    Drone/quadcopter/tricopter/rc airplane/whatever you want to call them people can piss and whine all they want but they cannot possibly ensure appropriate safety of those they are flying over enough to satisfy public interest and will therefore be relegated to greener pastures.
    This has never been an issue before the quadcopters before, rc airplane folks have always been pushed into parks why is it so hard to understand that quadcopters belong in the same space unless very specific demands are met?
    Maybe these exist already but why are there not quadcopter parks cropping up? Building set up with multilevel race courses or wooded areas set up for racing? You can’t run around the streets with paintball guns, why should you be allowed to fly 100′ above someone not prepared to jump out of the way when something goes wrong with your chopper?
    This debate is ridiculous and is really only going on because people are to naive to think that an accident won’t happen while they are at the helm of a machine.

  8. Yeah I’ve seen one or two rc multicopter rescue operations on youtube before and they were more Hackaday-worthy than this. This is basically a Syma and a Phantom – the two least DIY quadcopters and the most I’ve got some money but no idea what I’m doing toys. The other ones also weren’t showing anyone flying over other people’s houses, one I remember was over a medieval castle tower ruins

    Plus “drones”, really?

    Plus it’s not like the quad that spend months exposed to the elements is going to be a good part donor for anything.

  9. just goes to show two things:

    1) quad rotors don’t necessarily make someone a good pilot (losing the toy on top of someone’s house)

    2) quad rotor aircraft can make a good pilot even better (the rescue)

    1. and a corollary:

      the biggest problem with multirotor (other than the same media BS hype that turns even a 10/22 into an “assault rifle”) is that even the sh*ttiest “pilots” can get off the ground and stay in the air long enough to cause trouble.

      even coaxial helicopters require some skill- keeping orientation is still critical.

      multirotors were developed by hobbyists who wanted an aircraft to manage its own flying so they could focus their design effort onto other things for the aircraft to do-navigation, autonomous flight, imaging, etc. Once that was done, there was less need for training wheels and hand holding. But with all the dev work done and marketing being what it is, allowing the klutziest fat thumbs to successfully hover and maintain flight for minutes at a time was a selling point.

      It allowed the same sort of problems the foamie combat wings started a number of years ago-complete putzs who never took time to learn their aircraft or the rules of the field either damaging and colliding with expensive scale aircraft models, making so much noise from even electric props that parks started banning all RC aircraft because of complaints.

      sigh. kids these days with their gyroses and GPSses buying an aircraft that autolaunches, autobalances, autostabilizes, autoorients, autonavigates waypoints and autolands and claiming they’re “RC pilots”. Why back in MY day we’d have KILLED for anything remotely resembling a heading hold gyro on the tailrotor. Waypoints were what ya used to get to the field. And battery copters barely flew for 3 minutes. Now get off mah lawn-err-field! :)

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