A bald eagle recently put a drone in its place — underwater in Lake Michigan.
The confrontation between bird and machine took place on July 21 near Escanaba in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Michigan’s Department of the Environment, Great Lakes and Energy said in a release on its website.
EGLE, the acronym for the state agency flying the drone, was mapping shoreline erosion. Environmental quality analyst and drone pilot Hunter King was making his fourth drone flight of the day when the drone needed to be recalled.
King kept his eye on the video feed from the drone as the video began spinning.
“It was like a really bad rollercoaster ride,” King said in the news release.
By the time he looked up, there was only one flyer still in the sky — an eagle that was flying away.
“I was looking through the camera on the drone with my iPad, and it just went into a spiral,” King said, according to NPR.
“I don’t think the eagle actually grabbed it, maybe a talon just nicked it,” King says.
A couple who was watching told King they saw the eagle hit something, but they did not know what.
Officials later learned that the drone landed 150 feet from the shore in about four feet of water.
EGLE Unmanned Aircraft Systems coordinator Arthur Ostaszewski tried snorkeling gear to find the $950 drone. No luck. He spent two hours walking a gird pattern, remarking in the news release that he felt “like I was playing ‘Battleship’ and wanted to cover the entire board.”
In the end, the drone was never found.
On its way to its watery grave, the drone sent a distress signal that one propeller had been torn off.
Michigan Eagle takes on EGLE (Department of Environment Great Lakes and Energy) and wins.
Bird can be heard singing “I fought the law, and I won”https://t.co/LXZ13wPjpE
— Beau M. LaFave (@BeauMattLaFave) August 13, 2020
Julia Ponder, executive director of the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota, said the attack was likely due to what the bird perceived as an incursion into its territory, according to The New York Times.
“They’re the king of the skies,” she said.
King told NPR the bird may have simply had enough of the drone’s presence.
“I had flown out and it was on my way back, so it was probably the second time the bird had seen this drone,” he said.
King said the drone is “pretty annoying.”
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