An Improbable Drone
by John Delach
What do you get if you purchase a rather sophisticated flying electronic toy and have untried rookies attempt to operate it in a restricted area? Answer: Great drama!
My son-in-law, Tom, decided to treat his children, Marlowe and Cace, to a small plastic drone from a company called Dromida. He selected Model DIDE01GG dubbed Ominus, a fully assembled quadcopter. (Ominus, what an appropriate name for what was to follow!)
The proprietor of Toy City in Keene, NH and one of his customer’s recommended the unit to Tom as being, safe, reliable and easy to use.
The copter advertised itself as “fun to fly,” “easy to fly,” and “nearly impossible to break.” Tom charged the batteries for the flying machine and its controller on his return from the store. I was out and missed the arrival at the house and by the time I arrived first flight preparations were well along.
I watched from a safe distance on the porch as Tom ventured outside, set the copter on a table and engaged the controls. Smoothly and effortlessly the copter popped into the air rising about ten to fifteen feet. Working the controls Tom sent it forward, backwards and sideways. First flight ended in a crash about 15 seconds later. The duration of subsequent flights varied as Tom began to master his expertise of the controls but all ended in crashes of one sort or another. But the copter was none the worse for these crashes. Although the quadcopter remained undamaged, our household quadruped, four-year-old Golden Retriever, Max, decided this darting, semi-controlled interloper was something he wanted no part of. Max joined me on the porch.
Marlowe and Cace joined the fray and the copter headed up higher and traveled further away. Granted, the house is located in a decent clearing but the fact is we live in the woods and it quickly reached a tree line. It cleared the trees for brief seconds then fell into a strand about 100 yards away as control was lost.
Drama descended on the once happy scene as a desperate search began. Tom spotted it dangling from a tall spruce tree too high to permit ground retrieval. Even so, being a dutiful father, Tom grabbed an extension ladder and attempted to climb up the tree, no small feat. He first had to clear low branches using a saw and clippers that prevented the ladder from being made at least somewhat secure.
I held the ladder more for morale support than in doing any real good. The copter was just too high but he couldn’t get anywhere near the copter to flick it off the tree even with a ten-foot pole. But Tom effort was a tie; no retrieval but he didn’t fall and break a leg, arm, etc. in the attempt.
One by one, crushed family members left the scene and returned to other activities. I decided to clean up some of the items we had used that day for the spring clean-up. One was an electric power washer used to clean an outdoor deck. It’s heavy and I decided to move it back to my GMC Arcadia on a hand-truck. Mission accomplished and with no further need for the hand-truck, I headed for the shed where we keep it. The ground was uneven so I looked down as I walked to avoid obstacles. So it came as a surprise when I heard a whooshing sound coming from the trees to my right. I looked up just as the copter hit the ground no more than a yard from where I stood. The tree had given up its prey safe and sound making me its emissary to return the unit restoring peace, tranquility and joy.
After dinner, eight-year-old Cace, who had taken the afternoon’s loss the hardest, walked pass me as I sat on the porch. In his hands he carried the copter and the controller. “Say, buddy, where are you going with those?”
“Outside to fly it.”
“Sorry, Cace,” no more flights today.” I replied as I decided to play the bad guy.
With less fuss than I expected, he accepted his grandfather’s edict.
One miracle a day is enough!
Author’s note: Next weeks blog will be published on Thursday.