Cameraman Loses His $15k Quadcopter in the Amazon Rainforest

I don’t know about you, but I cringe when I lose a lens cap. So I can’t imagine how Christ Newman of CineChopper felt when he lost, not a measly lens cap or even a lens, but a $15,000 quadcopter.

While shooting for Animal Planet in the Amazon Rainforest of Peru, Newman’s quadcopter had a bit of a malfunction.

The chopper went ‘rogue,’ so to speak, taking a flight path all its own over the rainforest canopy. Newman and a fellow crew member chased it down, but every time they got closer, the drone would drift further away. Eventually, when the quadcopter had drifted far out of sight, Newman accepted his fate and… released the throttle.

What ensued was a mosquito-infested drone-hunt, the results of which you can see by watching the six-minute video above.

(via Planet5D)

  • s0undmind

    It looked like the thing got taken out by a projectile of some sort.

  • SiriusPhotog

    When are people gonna learn these things are not ready for prime time?

  • Stephen Greenham

    He is using a Spektrum DX-8 which is an American made and pretty cheapo transmitter. I use a Graupner MX-20 which is German made and a lot more reliable. That copter also uses a flight controller called a Wookong-M which they are trying to phase out because it is unreliable. Not getting a good GPS lock, and not testing the flight controls before take-off? Dude was asking for it…

  • Jamie Brightmore

    They are used in professional productions all the time. Taking risks (with safety being of paramount importance when using UAVs) is what drives the world forward.

  • Bruce

    Maybe Amazon’s quadcopter can deliver him a new quadcopter? Or just deliver itself as his new quadcopter?

  • Roberto Inetti


  • Luca Lunardi

    It hapenned to me once with my RC helicopter model. It went full trottle and ignored my commands. I was lucky that 2 months later thanks to a friend of friend I located it about 2 miles away from where it started going nuts. When the batteries got exausted it landed safely on this guy’s backyard. S***t happens.

  • Jeffrey Randall

    “looks like we didnt lose anything” mmm hmm

  • dan110024

    I can’t believe I’m about to say this as I usually roll my eyes at such comments, but maybe it was a publicity stunt. That quadcopter flew a long way away once he lost sight. I’m very surprised they found it with what seemed to be such ease. That place is some of the most dense forest out there and it doesn’t exactly stand out from other branches.

    I think I’ll go buy my first tin foil hat today.

  • dan110024

    It wouldn’t even need to fly far either

  • dan110024

    How did you exactly come to finding it through the friend of a friend? Lucky!

  • dan110024

    It’s not that they’re not ready, they are, but people need to understand there’s a risk in strapping their gear to them. As with anything half extreme you might do with your gear. I think wading into knee deep water at the beach with my camera is more risky than strapping it to a well built quadcopter. It’s what you have insurance for, which no doubt he has.

    The problem here is, like someone else mentioned, he’s not exactly using the best transmitter when you’ve got $15k worth of gear at risk. The transmitter is fine for hobbiest use…I think this is a little more than a cheap hobby quadcopter though.

  • Luca Lunardi

    Incredibly lucky, indeed. I’ve told a friend who works on the transit department about what happened. One day a friend of his walked in and ended up telling him that a guy found a RC helicopter on his backyard. He got the contact info of that guy. The day after I got in touch with the “founder” and it happened to be my helicopter that was gathering dust on a shelf for about 2 months. I went to his place and got it back. It’s just that kind of thing that happens only once in a lifetime.

  • Burnin Biomass

    Ah, Amazons quadcopter delivery… otherwise known as skeet shooting with prizes.

  • Happy Tinfoil Cat

    Is Amazon in the Amazon?

  • Happy Tinfoil Cat

    While he was holding it? I think he would have noticed a projectile hitting his controller.

  • s0undmind

    Not the controller, the copter. Watch when it first gets turned the wrong way, and again just before it goes down. Looked like blow darts, I kid you not. Maybe huge insects, I can’t be sure.

  • Theo Lubbe

    Is it just me, or does that one guy look and sound somewhat like Matt Damon?

  • Laurens

    Hurray! Kill the drones (and timelapses).

  • Ralph Hightower

    That’s one expensive hedge trimmer!

  • Vanny Paniz

    Time to tape a Spot satellite messenger to my Phantom

  • SiriusPhotog
  • CineChopper

    Promise you this was not a publicity stunt, though I can see your point of view. haha.
    I gained a signal on my transmitter from the heli once I got close and used that to make a search grid.

  • CineChopper

    Been using DX8 for 2.5 years. This one was a newer one that failed me. I have a MX-20 as well. I like spekttrum because I can get parts easy in a pinch at any hobby shop. I suspected wookong M when things went wrong. I flew it same day after the crash (low to the ground) and it flew perfect. Tried it again next morning and boom, no ability to move foward or back. It was random. Couldn’t get GPS lock, tree’s were too tall, thick, I let it sit for 10 min waiting to acquire signal. The amazon is a beast. I did test the flight controls before I gained altitude. As I said in the video “I tested everything out and it worked 100%”. I’m not exactly a noob at this but I understand your criticism. :)

  • CineChopper

    The Octo ran into a tree branch, you’re seeing the leaves getting chopped up.

  • Shani Cohen

    Dont they have insurance for expensive gear?