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News & Insight

Drone’s Eye View: An Extreme Close-Up Into The Fiery Pits of An Erupting Volcano

By Hanssie on October 3rd 2014

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 9.02.07 PMThe GoPro has been on many an adventure since its inception. Most popular of late is high up in the air, paired with a Phantom DJI, giving us a bird’s eye view of the world. This coupling has led us through fireworks shows, nose-to-nose at a rocket launch, through Alaskan caves and so much more. But never before has it been quite this close in the fiery pits of hell, aka an erupting volcano. This drone got so close to the Bardabunga Volcano in Iceland that the face of the GoPro actually melted.

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 9.01.25 PM

Using the proper permits and permission from local authorities, DJI’s director of aerial imaging, Eric Cheng and photographer, Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson, were able to gain access close enough to the erupting volcano capture some footage. After a last minute flight and a grueling 15 hour car ride through rough terrain, they were able to get about a little over a mile away from the volcanic site. Still a bit too far to not trigger the quadcopter’s failsafe, Cheng got permission to get a bit closer. Cheng tells Wired,

One of the policemen came over to us and said, ‘We checked the rules, and vehicles can’t drive closer. However, you could theoretically walk closer. I have to inform you that we officially do not recommend this, because it’s dangerous.

I’m not sure there are many photographers out there that would pass up a chance like that, so donning the appropriate safety gear – gas masks and heavy boots – they set out and captured the following footage:

During the last flight, the feed went out and Cheng triggered the Phantom’s failsafe, which called the drone back to him. The front of the GoPro had melted, causing the camera to malfunction, but the footage was safety ensconced in the micro SD card. Below is the behind the scenes video with Eric describing the entire trip:

I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking that Eric Cheng has the coolest job in the world.

[Via Wired/DJI YouTube]

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Matt Molloy

    Great footage! Iceland looks like a photographers dreamland, especially when there’s volcanoes erupting, or in this case, lava spewing out of fissures. I can only hope I get to visit someday.

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  2. Peter Nord

    Wonder if GoPro would come out with a hi-temp version. Ought to allow some vulcanologists a longer life. Those guys are crazy.

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  3. Jeff Morrison

    so cool

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  4. Clare Havill

    WOW, great video, shows the raw power of the volcano.

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  5. Peter McWade

    My little drone can only pick up my itty bitty camera about a 1/2 foot off the ground. Guess its time to upgrade. :)

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  6. Chuck Eggen

    I don’t think my Phantom will see the inside of a volcano.

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  7. Brandon Dewey

    Cool video!

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  8. Daniel Thullen

    I’d say Ed Cheng’s job is pretty HOT!

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