Quad-Copter Camera Flies Over Niagara Falls, Captures Breathtaking Views

Niagara Falls is (or rather are) a sight to behold, and while capturing the falls from a boat or one of the overlooks is impressive enough, why not take to the air? That’s what YouTube user questpact did, creating the video above using his DJI Phantom quad-copter and GoPro Hero 3.

Although they’re not particularly tall, every minute (on average) about four million cubic feet of water makes its way over the crest line of Niagara Falls. Located on the Niagara River and serving the natural purpose of draining Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, the combined falls that make up Niagara boast the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world.


Given all of this, questpact thought it would make for a great entry into the DJI Phantom Video Contest, and so he packed his gear and headed that way. The only problem was, when he got there he found the day overcast. And while the sun did ultimately peek out for 20 merciful minutes, he then had to deal with some technical difficulties when his 7th channel level broke right as the sun came out.

Fortunately, none of that seems to have stopped him, and he was able to spend the 20 minutes capturing some beautiful aerial footage of the falls that he then set to the song “The In-Between” by the band A New Normal and uploaded for our viewing pleasure. Check out the video at the top and let us know what you think.

  • Rob Elliott

    The Horseshoe Falls are 51 Meters high that is the height of a 10 store building give or take.

  • Mosley Hardy

    It looks from the video (and the accuracy of the cinematography) like he is using a VR system to pilot it. That’s not OEM for the Phantom AFAIK – I’d be interested to know what he’s using and how the Phantom was modded to use the VR system

  • Mosley Hardy

    It looks from the video (and the accuracy of the cinematography) like he is using a VR system to pilot it. That’s not OEM for the Phantom AFAIK – I’d be interested to know what he’s using and how the Phantom was modded to use the VR system

  • Ralph Hightower

    Stunning! I have another item on my bucket list.

  • Digital Images by Kirsch

    Stunning footage VERY NICE!!!

  • Kris R.

    Random thought here – isn’t he flying / crossing over the International Border with a drone? That can’t be smiled upon by either government!

  • brob

    kinda interesting, but I find the wide angle distortion of the goPro takes away from the majestic feel of the falls, especially from the overhead view. Also could have benefitted from better editing I think. Still I applaud his efforts.

  • brob

    I question the legal aspects of this as well.

  • MarkLivesInLA

    While a little rough around the edges, it really was very watchable and enjoyable. Mostly though, I found myself questioning the legal issues it may raise. It seems innocent enough I think border patrols on either side would pretty reactive if they could be. Quadcopters/drones are contentious enough without the act of flying them over international borders, never mind whatever laws may apply in NY and ON. Based on every map I’ve ever seen, I’m pretty sure the border was crossed from New York (where it originated) into Ontario, several times during the video when the copter crossed over the edge of the horseshoe falls, (albeit not by much) and I don’t think I’d be in a hurry to publicize this video unless prior permission or legal advice was sought. Perhaps the photographer did. I must say, as an architectural photographer, my interest in quadcopters is definitely getting greater and this video shows the power of them.

  • JP Danko

    That is just freakin’ killer awesome! Would you believe that I was planning the exact same thing with the exact same gear (except from the other side) – but I came to the conclusion the Phantom was too lightweight for the task of flying in all the mist. Way to go for having the balls to pull it off!

  • a friend

    Howdy, I’m a coworker of questpact. He’s using a Fatshark FPV system which sends the feed from the GoPro to a headset via a radio link. It’s nearly real-time, and a ton of fun to fly that way!

    The Phantom has been modified with an aftermarket gimbal to keep the camera steady and allow for in-flight adjustments to camera tilt, and the gimbal and FPV antenna both run off of the same battery that powers the copter motors.

  • MarkLivesInLA

    Could you kindly tell me how long flight time would typically be and what ‘recharge’ time would be? Thanks!

  • jumbybird

    Does anyone know what they use on “River Monsters” I’ve seen aerial shots in remote areas that weren’t done by helicopter or plane

  • a friend

    The copter itself gets around 12 minutes of flight time. With the active gimbal and FPV antenna, that gets cut down to roughly 7 minutes (though he says he only got about 6 in the rough breezes above the falls).

    I’m not sure how long it takes to recharge a battery, but it’s a few hours at least. He’s got several batteries, and swaps them out to get multiple flights in a given session.

  • Bill

    Nice platform, but poor photography. Not at all artistic. The jerking around, the sometimes backward views…

    A tremendous opportunity, squandered.

  • A.

    Oh no, he found the day overcast, what a disaster!

  • Ideas1234

    Lets compare with your footage.

  • actualcinematographer

    Bill is absolutely correct. It’s not enough to just position a camera in space and collect kudos for the beauty of nature. Cinematography is a thoughtful process; every pan should be premeditated to create the mood, not just a re-position. Here, pans start and stop arbitrarily, distracting from the tranquil environment that is intended. The author didn’t opt to use jarring music that dropped out in the middle, so why should he be applauded for effectively doing the same thing with the visuals. Perhaps the gimbal is not capable of smooth starts and stops; in that case, cut around the repositions, just use continuous pans. The spectacle is indeed gorgeous, but the execution is sloppy, and that very simply detracts from the beauty of the piece.

  • BJM2

    I cannot get over all the negative comments! Can’t we just enjoy something that someone did and shared with others because he wanted to? And – as long as he didn’t get caught by political skirmishes, why even bring it up? He is not a spy!!! Live in the moment and take it as it is and not how it could be!!! Cup half full, not half empty!

  • Mike

    Wow, lovely, I’ve NEVER seen the fall like this.

  • ian

    Can you elaborate on the aftermarket gimbal? I’m interested in making the same thing.