The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy is known as EGLE. Recently, the group sent a drone to fly over Lake Michigan. A real eagle knocked the drone out of the sky.
Lake Michigan is one of the Great Lakes. Those are five large lakes in the U.S. and Canada. Together, they make up the world’s largest group of freshwater lakes. They hold 18% of the world’s fresh surface water.
This past summer, water levels in Lake Michigan were high. EGLE sent a drone to map the shoreline changes. The goal was to record the changes and help those living near the lake.
Drones are aircraft. There are no people on them. Pilots often fly small drones using remote controls. They can watch what the drone sees on a video screen.
That’s what Hunter King was doing for EGLE. He was flying a $950 drone over the lake.
The drone had been flying for about seven minutes. Then something went wrong with King’s link to the drone.
He pushed a button to make the drone return to him. But as he watched the video screen, the drone began to spin.
“It was like a really bad roller coaster ride,” he said.
Above the drone, King saw a bald eagle. It was flying away. The bird seemed unhurt.
The drone wasn’t so lucky. The eagle tore off a part that helps the drone fly. The drone tumbled toward the lake. It sent 27 warning messages in 3.5 seconds. But no one could save it.
A search of the shoreline did not find the broken drone. Later, the team used data from the drone to find it. It had landed in 4 feet of water, about 150 feet from land.
Two birdwatchers reported seeing a bald eagle attack something in the air. They said they didn’t know it was a drone.
Now EGLE’s drone team has to find a way to protect against eagles. The team might use “skins” or add patterns to their aircraft. That could make the drones look less like seagulls.
SOURCE: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS