A bald eagle attacked a government drone flying over Lake Michigan, sending it to a watery grave. The $950 Phantom 4 Pro Advanced drone was being operated by Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy to map shoreline erosion in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
After a few minutes, the drone's pilot, Hunter King, noticed that the satellite reception was becoming spotty, so he turned the drone around to review the data he collected. As the drone was returning to King, a bald eagle swooped in and attacked the flying machine, sending it crashing into the water.
"It was like a really bad roller coaster ride," said King, who watched the attack on a video screen. As he looked up from the screen, he saw the eagle flying away.
The drone sent 27 warning messages in 3.5 seconds as it crashed into the water about 150 feet offshore. One of those warnings said the propeller had been ripped off. King and a pair of birdwatchers who witnessed the attack tried to find the drone but had no luck.
A few days later, GLE Unmanned Aircraft Systems coordinator Arthur Ostaszewski returned to the area, hoping to locate the drone. He kayaked out to the spot where the drone hit the water and spent two hours trying to find it. He was forced to abandon the search as a thunderstorm rolled into the area.
Officials said the attack could have been a "territorial squabble with the electronic foe, or just a hungry eagle." They said they plan to replace the drone and will look into using "skins" to make it look less like a seagull.
Photo: Getty Images