Dear Inside Drone readers,
Today, we're taking a break from our regular schedule to highlight some of the top drones videos of the past year. They are in no particular order, and show off the skills honed by FPV pros like Johnny FPV and world champion Jordan Tempkin. Moving forward, we appreciate any feedback and suggestions for new topics related to drones and the industry at large, which we hope to include in future issues.
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-The Inside.com team
1. Johnny FPV is perhaps one of the most well-known FPV freestyle and drone racers on YouTube. This year, he's produced some amazing content, ranging from his experiences covering Formula Drift to his latest excursion in the Guatemalan jungle. His most popular video this year, "The sky is not the limit," has more than 1.6 million views and include drone footage of exotic animals, skiers, auto racers, and more. You can check it out here.
2. Hong Kong has been gripped by sweeping protests afters it government proposed an extradition bill that would have allowed Hong Kong citizens to be extradited to mainland China. Three months later, the protests have morphed into ongoing unrest and larger calls for democracy. Team BlackSheep, a Hong Kong-based FPV YouTube channel, captured one of the protests from a bird's-eye view, which has become one of the most-watched drone videos this year with 1.2 million views. As one viewer put it, "Holy.... you don't see this perspective on TV."
3. Last year, researchers at the University of Dayton set out to answer the question, "What happens when a drone collides with a plane?" Under a partnership with the Sinclair College National UAS Training and Certification Center, they unleashed a 2.1-pound recreational drone flying at 238 mph into the wing of a prop plane. The results are both stunning and terrifying. As the researchers describe themselves, "The drone did not shatter on impact. Rather, it tore open the leading edge of the wing as it bore into the structure, damaging its main spar." Their video on YouTube has amassed close to 950,000 hits over the past year.
4. Photographer Martin Rietze uploaded this video of Indonesia's Anak Krakatau (Malay translation: child of Krakatoa) volcano erupting last October. Rietze apparently travels the world in the hope of capturing the fiery spectacles, and this one in particular drew attention. Unfortunately, two months after posting the video, part of the volcanic crater collapsed into the surrounding water, triggering tsunami waves that were responsible for the deaths of hundreds.
5. Some of the best videos feature drones racing against unusual or unique challengers, like this footage of 2018 Olympic Bronze Medalist skier Victor Muffat-Jeandet racing down a mountain against a UAV piloted by Jordan Temkin, a twice world drone racing champion. You have to watch to see who wins. It's "enough to make your heart beat," one YouTuber wrote.
6. A massive drone show was one of the highlights of the China International Big Data Industry Expo earlier this year. It was held in Guiyang, Guizhou province, and featured 526 drones lighting up the skies. The show was one of the best so far in that it featured unique shapes and animations, such as a 3D woman moving her arms, a spinning world, and butterflies taking flight.
7. This year's Amazon re:MARS 2019 - a conference focused on AI- had a number of interesting surprises. Perhaps one of the coolest was Amazon Prime Air's flight test of the latest design for its delivery drones. According to Amazon executive Jeff Wilke, the drones could start shipping packages "in a matter of months" as the company continues to push its one-day shipping to its Prime members in North America. The drones can take off and land vertically and fly horizontally and have a range of 15 miles.
8. Popular YouTuber Datta Benur created this mashup of an RC car and fixed-wing drone. After documenting his work in a video, the car-drone was able to fly, for a little while anyway. It is perhaps the most viewed drone-related video over the last several months, with 17.6 million views.
9. Though controversial, two drone videos of Jeffrey Epstein’s property in the Virgin Islands went viral back in July after Epstein was arrested and subsequently died of an apparent suicide. The YouTube channel of Rusty Shackleford posted the original videos and has put up new ones of the island, which viewers have described as creepy and "spooky af."
10. GoPro's YouTube channel shared this video taken by awards recipient Lukasz Lewenda, who made an FPV drone flight through an abandoned building. It was posted on Halloween in 2018, and makes for a great spooky viewing experience almost a year later. 🎃
Written and curated by Beth Duckett in Orange County. Beth is a former reporter for The Arizona Republic who has written for USA Today, Get Out magazine and other publications. Follow her tweets about breaking news and other topics in southern California here.
Editor: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside).