Drone Disaster Redux

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My first attempt at using our drone for listing photos ended up with it slamming into the side of a house. I was right to have a few reservations about flying it again, but I’d been practicing, and had such a great mental picture of how our Distillery listing could look!

Once I’d finished the interior photos and virtual tour, I launched the drone inside the main bedroom, and thought I could fly it out the sliding door for an expansive view from the balcony. However, the drone stopped dead at the exit, I presume because it sensed the proximity of the door frame.

Main bedroom with sliding doors to balcony © Allyson Scott

The only solution was to launch it from the balcony, and then I thought I could try to zoom in and fly by for some interesting shots.

Taking off was no problem. Flying the drone out slightly from the building to position it for the video was no problem. The problem was the warning that came up onscreen as soon as I began recording:



Then a red notice came up saying that I was too close to Billy Bishop Airport. Of course, with a basic drone pilot’s license you must stay outside a 3-mile zone of any airport or authorized air space. Uh oh. I was able to fly the drone inside on private property with no issue, but as soon as it was flying around outside, I triggered the shutdown. The drone returned to the balcony but would not land back where I’d launched from. It hovered right in front of me yet again, but I learned from my prior mistake and resisted the urge to reach out and pluck it from the air.

I could do nothing but stand and watch as it slowly sank downward and landed onto the terrace beneath me.

Me thinking, “Oh God, not again…”

(You guys are laughing with me, not at me, right?)

The drone’s eye view of some stranger’s terrace

I took the elevator to the third floor and knocked on the door, because everyone is home during lockdown, right? Not so much.

I went to the entry system in the lobby, however all the residents were listed by name, not by unit number. Heart pounding, I called our team member Crystal, and asked her to look up the owner’s information for me online. Luckily he was listed on the display, but I ended up having to leave a message on his voice mail.

In the meantime, the temperature was dropping, the wind was picking up, and ominous clouds were on their way in. Rain was coming, and my drone was sitting exposed to the elements.

Storm’s a-coming

The only solution my stressed-out brain could come up with was returning home to get a 10-foot pole (lol) from my photography gear and some crazy glue. It was too far away to grab with anything else, and I certainly wasn’t about to risk life and limb with any ladder scenario. I wrote a quick and desperate note to the condo owner on my business card and slid it under the door in case they returned home before I got back.

As I raced home, raindrops starting to splatter on the windshield, I called my friend, neighbour, and fellow Realtor Chris Worth to explain my predicament and my plan. After he stopped laughing, I asked if he had any better ideas. When he said he didn’t, I asked if he had anything better to do than meet me there and record the effort for posterity. He said he did not!

And that, my friends, is how this came to pass:

Me, Chris, a pole, and a drone

The pole was not long enough to reach the drone by leaning over the balcony, so I had no choice but to reach below the railing – which meant could not see what I was doing. It also meant that after about an hour of trying to lie in this position and balance the pole against a strong wind, I could no longer feel my arms.

As we made valiant retrieval attempts, I received a phone call from the owner of the unit below. Coincidentally he was also a Realtor, meaning it was an investment property…and his tenants would be out of town for several more days. No one else was coming to save the day.

Here is a short compilation of our efforts for your amusement, because we are all in need of some Covid laughs!

Spoiler alert: Chris’ expert navigation using such helpful instructions as “up a titch” was instrumental in our ultimate success. As he slowly raised the pole on our final attempt, I stood up, feeling quite shaky, and reached over the balcony railing to get ready to grab the drone. And a split second later the glue gave way, and the drone literally dropped into my outstretched hands. Chris and I were speechless, as there was no way the drone would have survived a fall from that height.

Drone with super glue that held just long enough

One happy drone owner!

I don’t know…do you think the third time will be the charm? 😉

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