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Drone show mishap sees flying machines drop out of the sky

A drone show in Perth, Australia, didn’t quite go according to plan after a number of the flying machines fell out of the sky and crashed into the water during the performance.

Sunday night’s “City of Light” event took place in front of thousands of onlookers, but as the show proceeded, LED-laden drones could be seen dropping from the display after malfunctioning.

A video shared by 9News Perth showed some of the devices plummeting toward the river for no obvious reason.

The highly-anticipated City Of Light Christmas drone show didn’t go exactly as planned last night…

Multiple drones began malfunctioning and falling from the sky throughout, crashing into the Swan River below as crowds watched on. #9News

— 9News Perth (@9NewsPerth) November 21, 2022

Joshua Van Ross, managing director of Drone Sky Show, which organized the event, said 50 of the display’s 500 drones encountered some kind of difficulty that caused them to plummet into the river below. With each aircraft worth $2,000 Australian dollars (about $1,320), Drone Sky Show lost AUD $100,000 (about $66,000) worth of equipment by the time the display had finished.

“If there is any wind interference, drones do hit each other, that does happen, propellers snap, there are things that go wrong,” Van Ross told local news outlet WA Today.

But he added: “Two to three drones [falling] per show is actually normal … last night was not normal.” GPS interference is also being investigated as a potential cause of the drone dropouts.

Van Ross said the unexpected calamity made him “cry a little bit … I am trying not to think about it … but it was an expensive show for us.”

Divers were sent into the river the following day in an effort to fish out the drones, though water damage means it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to fly again.

The good news is that those who had turned up to watch the aerial light show were never in any danger, as the show took place over water and at least 120 meters (394 feet) from the nearest onlookers.

With drone technology advancing all the time, and increasingly complex software able to program numerous quadcopters to fly in formation, light shows using the machines have become more and more popular, in some cases taking the place of fireworks-based events.

It’s rare to hear of a mishap on the scale of Sunday’s event in Perth, so it will be interesting to find out what exactly caused so many drones to fall out of the sky during a single performance.

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Trevor Mogg
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