Watch: Photographers fly drone so close to a volcano that the face of the camera melts

Posted at 3:51 PM, Oct 01, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-01 16:08:17-04

Talk about some hot footage!

Two photographers managed to fly a drone so close to an erupting volcano in Iceland that the face of the onboard GoPro camera melted. (scroll down for more video)

The melted face of the camera is seen in this screengrab from Cheng’s footage. (Click to enlarge)

Eric Cheng, director of aerial imaging for drone maker DJI and photographer Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson shot the footage during a day-long window on September 20th when winds were likely to blow in the right direction to avoid exposure to poisonous gases.

The two drove four hours over rough terrain to get within 2 kilometers of the caldera in the Holuhraun lava field between the Bardarbunga and Askja volcanoes, then put on gas masks and hiked to within a kilometer of the fissure, according to Wired.

Every time he flew directly over the caldera, however, he lost video signal and control. Cheng speculated that static electricity in the small amount of ash from the eruption, or perhaps an electrical charge in the lava, were interfering with the radio signals. During the last flight, Cheng’s wireless video signal went out completely. Worried, he triggered the drone’s failsafe mode, and after a few minutes, the whirr of the drone’s propellers could be heard as it flew into range.

When he retrieved the drone, he noticed that the front of the GoPro had melted, causing the camera to malfunction. But the memory card was unharmed and the footage was safe. The morning after he got the shot, Cheng says, the caldera wall broke, flooding the area where he was standing with lava.

Watch more of Cheng’s story in the video below.