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Very Sad Day - Crashed my Inspire 1
3328 15 2015-4-6
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david.p.mann
First Officer
Flight distance : 14554101 ft
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United States
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Well - it finally happened.  I thought I would be able to continue to fly and enjoy my Inspire 1 for many months, maybe years.  But a momentary error in flight control this past weekend in a tense situation and I crashed my Inspire 1 into a street light that I was intentionally flying over to video a closeup of the unique pattern formed by years of peeling paint and bird droppings.  In retrospect, probably not a good use of a $3000 precision aircraft to capture one somewhat interesting photo.  The picture below shows what my Inspire 1 looks like after the crash.  A very sad day.
It was a beautiful day.  I had made two 17-minute flights and was going to go home, but decided to take one more flight out to a street light at the edge of the model aircraft park where I routinely fly.  This time I wanted to use the new iPad Mini 3 that I recently purchased instead of the iPad Air 2 I had been using for all previous flights with my I1 since purchasing it a month ago.  I started up the DJI Pilot app, calibrated the compass again, checked my position on the satellite view map, took off, checked to make sure the I1 aircraft and camera were responding well to all controls, then flew off to the light pole 1000 feet away.  I noticed that the live video blanked out or froze a couple times for a split second during the flight to the light pole.  When I got to the light pole I hovered over the street lamp and VERY SLOWLY descended from about 10 feet above it to 3 feet above it.  

But the video image kept freezing and then updating a split second later.  This made it difficult to judge my exact position and distance from the street lamp accurately.  So I held altitude and tried adjusting video settings. Enable Hardware Decode was already turned on, so I tried turning it off, but the video breakup issue got even worse.  So, I turned Enable Hardware Decode back on.  But video breakup was still a problem. I had never had this video problem in the dozens of flights using my iPad Air 2 with the DJI Pilot app.  As I continued hovering, the aircraft drifted about 6 inches to the right causing the Vision system to sense the street lamp directly under it triggering the automatic lowering of the landing gear and the audible announcement "Landing gear is lowering."  This startled me and I decided I was getting too close to the street lamp, and that's when I made a fatal error.  I intended to ascend, but, instead, I went 100% down on the throttle for a split second.  Immediately realizing my error, I went 100% up on the throttle to ascend up and out of danger.  Ironically, I somehow missed the street lamp when I mistakenly descended about 3 feet below it, but clipped it going back up a split second later.  I watched helplessly from 1000 feet away as my I1 tumbled and spiraled to the ground below.

I was devastated.  How could I be so stupid to make a rookie error like that.  I have actually practiced the rapid ascent maneuver many times my first five weekends flying the I1 and I used it successfully in the past when getting too close to a tree top or when low level flying and seeing my I1 take a sudden dip toward the ground when the ground elevation I was flying over changed.  But not this time.


The result - carbon fiber aircraft propeller arms are broken in two places, gimbal and camera are both damaged.  Back home I cautiously reinserted the battery and was able to get the I1 back into transport mode with no problems or strange sounds.  Thus, the transform arms and motor are at least still functional.  

So, learn from my mistakes fellow pilots.  Ask yourself if the video or photo you are going for is worth risking your $3000 aircraft.  Do NOT fly excessively  close to trees, buildings, street lamps, people or other objects.  And if you are having ANY issues with your aircraft controls or live video system during a shoot - STOP, MOVE AIRCRAFT AWAY TO SAFE DISTANCE OR RETURN HOME, and troubleshoot/resolve problem before continuing.  

This was a very expensive, humbling lesson for me.  I'm just glad there were no people or property damaged other than my own aircraft.  BE CAREFUL. BE SMART.  FLY SAFE.  







2015-4-6
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jimhare
Captain
Flight distance : 239035 ft
Australia
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So sorry to hear!   Could happen to any of us on any day.   The other day I was flying over the ocean, just waiting for it to fly away forever and was grateful when I got to take it home again.

Sometimes I'm about to do that "one last flight" you spoke of and then think I shouldn't push my luck and pack up instead.

But since the alternative is not to fly it I will continue to take the chance, knowing each flight could be my last!

Hope the repairs aren't too costly, please keep us informed.
2015-4-6
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Bob Marley
Second Officer

United States
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So sorry to hear about ur crash David, I'm sure you're heart broken.

I took my very first flight tonight, and I have been flying some crazy chit over the years, but I said to myself, "man, just one wrong move with this bird and she's history". I get complacent trimming grass upside down with my 3d t-700, but man I said to myself tonight, "I better be smart or 200 flights in I'll smack a water tower or something, "trying to get the shot".

I was just telling my flying partner tonight that it's bs they "glued" this whole damn bird together so we can't just buy parts online and fix it after a crash, (like the rest of the high end models on the planet).

So what are you going to do bro? Is this just a hobby for you?
Are you gonna get another while you wait for this one to be fixed?

Bob


ps - ur pic link is dead
2015-4-6
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david.p.mann
First Officer
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Bob Marley Posted at 2015-4-7 12:46
So sorry to hear about ur crash David, I'm sure you're heart broken.

I took my very first flight to ...

I am a hobbyist and have been an avid amateur photographer for 20+ years.  The I1 and my Phantom 2 Vision + were just additional tols in my box for taking photos and videos.  I am cuurently attempting to contact DJI North America service to get my I1 repaired, but was twice unable to get to the end of the wait queue today.  Will try again tomorrow.
2015-4-6
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Mkell_CA_SF.BAY
lvl.4
Flight distance : 307431 ft
United States
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Hey David, I know how you feel, after my own crash and experience all I can say is that these things can happen, Try calling DJI first thing in the morning, the LA center is open at 9am PST I believe. Repair costs are never fun but they'll be less than you think in most cases. It's a good sign that you can still power up/switch to travel modes and there was no water damage I take it.

You said the camera and gimbal were damaged... were you able to retrieve the files from the crash? If not try and get the video file off the SD card on a site... we can process the file and get it back to you.
2015-4-6
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nilsblix
First Officer
Flight distance : 10122100 ft
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Spain
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Hello David

It is heartbreaking to read about your crash - I have not been there yet, but I easily could.

Had a nearly simmilar situation a few days ago - I was taking off from a very narrow position without thinking about that I also was to land there. Well - going in for landing ( in a bit windy conditioning ) I came just 20 - 30 cm from a lightpost - nose in. Hoovered  - the thinking - left ? or right ? stick movement - heart was bumping. a left movement would be fatal - luckily I did a right moment and got clear the post.

I am not a very good pilot, but I will say I am a ok pillorying to be careful. Your crash reminds me to be careful.

Thank you for sharing so honest your story - I hope you get your Inspire in the air again very soon.

2015-4-6
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TuonoV4
lvl.2

South Africa
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jimhare Posted at 2015-4-7 12:42
So sorry to hear!   Could happen to any of us on any day.   The other day I was flying over the ocea ...

Last week the I1 was sent 1.6km out into the bay to see if we could spot any Great Whites (we have plenty around here). The longest yet over water, very nerve wrecking... but she didn't miss a beat. Could have used the 3rd battery for a third run, but thought discretion over valour There are always other days!
2015-4-7
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david.p.mann
First Officer
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Mkell_CA_SF.BAY Posted at 2015-4-7 14:10
Hey David, I know how you feel, after my own crash and experience all I can say is that these things ...

I can't find any video file or corrupted file of any type visible in Windows explorer on the micro-SD card that was in my Inspire during it's final flight.  And I can't reinsert the card into the camera and power up the Inspire to see if that might cause the final video file to be written or renamed from some hidden system file, because the camera/gimbal is damaged to point the camera cannot freely rotate in all axes.  I don't want to risk further damage to gimbal motors or aircraft electronics.  Perhaps if I inserted the micro-SD card in another working Inspire 1 camera and tuned on the aircraft and it associated controller and started and stopped a brief video, it would cause the last video file to be recovered.  Is that worth trying?

I do have a complete video of my last flight that was captured by an iPad video screen recorder app called SHOU that was running during my last flight.  It captured the whole flight including the video breakup issue, my unsuccessful attempts to fix it, my hovering 2-3 feet over the street lamp, the landing gear automatically lowering, my 1/2-second control-error descent followed by full-power ascent, the crash into the street lamp, and 30 minutes of audio following the crash, including all my grief-stricken whimpering as I realized I had just trashed my $3000 I1, quickly packed up my stuff at the model aircraft park, and drove to the location where my I1 was lying - badly damaged - in the middle of an infrequently used road, and my phone call with my wife telling her what had just happened.  Great memory album stuff - NOT!
2015-4-8
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Farnk666
Captain
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Australia
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david.p.mann@ea Posted at 2015-4-9 12:35
I can't find any video file or corrupted file of any type visible in Windows explorer on the micro ...

Sorry to hear about your incident David.
Hope that you get back up and flying soon!

There has been word on the forums before when a SD card was inserted into another I1 following a crash and the file was recovered - don't recall the specific case, but it's worth a shot! Maybe your dealer or a nearby fellow I1 owner can assist.  
2015-4-8
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gdc2510
lvl.3
Flight distance : 343583 ft
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david.p.mann@ea Posted at 2015-4-9 12:35
I can't find any video file or corrupted file of any type visible in Windows explorer on the micro ...

Sorry to hear of your loss!! Re the SD card, insert the card into a windows system and run CHKDSK on it and hopefully you video will be recovered and called FILE001. Good luck.
2015-4-8
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Chato1974.gmail
lvl.4
Flight distance : 2448022 ft
United States
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Loosing money is always a bummer, however the new P3 is out. And the Specs on it won't make you feel to bad spending $1200 instead of $2900 to replace it.
2015-4-8
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david.p.mann
First Officer
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My damaged Inspire 1 arrived at DJI's service center in California on April 16 and was checked in to DJI's Zendesk customer support database on April 23.  Now, I understand I'll need to wait 4-6 weeks for next update on repair status.
2015-4-27
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PeteGould
Second Officer

United States
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david.p.mann@ea Posted at 2015-4-28 02:21
My damaged Inspire 1 arrived at DJI's service center in California on April 16 and was checked in to ...

Best of luck on a reasonable estimate and quick (as quick as possible for DJI) repair.

I just finished writing up my own "stupid beginner error" story in another thread.  By nothing more than the luck of the Irish there was no permanent damage, but it could have been disastrous for me too.

Let us know how you make out.
2015-4-27
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houston
Second Officer
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The pain of waiting for it to return is almost as bad as the crash itself. At least it has been for me. Hope to have mine back in the next 10-14 days. That will make it 6-7 weeks door to door.
2015-4-27
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mancuso_inc
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Flight distance : 39708 ft
United States
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houston Posted at 2015-4-27 12:21
The pain of waiting for it to return is almost as bad as the crash itself. At least it has been for me. Hope to have mine back in the next 10-14 days. That will make it 6-7 weeks door to door.

Wow, I'm relieved to find a few stories like these. I've been flying for a few months, mostly practicing low level ground, through alleys and around corners type of maneuvers. Felt pretty proficient, so decided to go to the LA river and do some fly-by's.
Beautiful day, wind out of the south at a few knots, otherwise fine. Overcame an IMU calibration error that was preventing takeoff. Got out and did some great passes, loved it. Haven't flown in open air like this in a while. So much space! Great shots off the water, one direction, nothing crazy.
Wanted to do one more with the camera facing backwards, but instead of using my other remote to turn the camera backwards, decided to FLY backwards with camera forward.
noticed some trees on the opposite bank overhanging, they should be far enough away, but better play it safe so maneuvered away from them as I passed to more open area.
Or so I thought. Nope. Remember? Am flying BACKWARDS, dummy. Right is left, left is right. Drifted the wrong way, watched in horror as it hit said tree and fell into the water on the opposite bank.
A nice homeless man cheerfully announced from the bushes that he found my camera (mount broke off from body) and that my drone was still on in the water. Ran across the river (not that deep) and got there, and it's lights are still on for god sake underwater, odd orange color. Lifted it up and out, couldn't shut off battery, but it's was getting unruly and then smoke puffed from a rotor. Just pulled the battery out and set it down and backed away.
Broken arm, missing prop, gimbal not sure. Sent it all in today. Surely my I1 is toast, can't imagine it surviving that. Just bought two new batteries for it, too.
That should teach me, though.
2017-11-17
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TruGreen
First Officer
Flight distance : 454593 ft
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mancuso_inc Posted at 2017-11-17 22:18
Wow, I'm relieved to find a few stories like these. I've been flying for a few months, mostly practicing low level ground, through alleys and around corners type of maneuvers. Felt pretty proficient, so decided to go to the LA river and do some fly-by's.
Beautiful day, wind out of the south at a few knots, otherwise fine. Overcame an IMU calibration error that was preventing takeoff. Got out and did some great passes, loved it. Haven't flown in open air like this in a while. So much space! Great shots off the water, one direction, nothing crazy.
Wanted to do one more with the camera facing backwards, but instead of using my other remote to turn the camera backwards, decided to FLY backwards with camera forward.

very sad hopefully the repair cost arent too much. curious what camera were you using? and not to sound like "that" guy but im going to be selling my Inspire 1 here shortly with 3 tb48s and x3 camera. can pm me for more info and details... BTW im about 60 miles south of LA so could do a local meet if ya interested
2017-11-17
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