David Pogue Loses It

David Pogue leads a wonderful life. The Westport-based tech writer (Yahoo, New York Times, Scientific American), TV correspondent (“CBS News Sunday Morning,” PBS “Nova Science Now”) and author (“Missing Manual” series, “Pogue’s Basics”) has won 3 Emmy awards, 2 Webbys and a Loeb for journalism.

But even Pogue’s life doesn’t always go according to plan. The other day — well, let him describe it for “06880” readers:

I love drones. I love reviewing drones. I love filming drones!

But last week, something really crazy happened. I was reviewing the new $1300 Yuneec Typhoon H, taking it out for a test flight before the Yahoo video crew arrived next day to film my video review.

David Pogue drone

My son Kell (a Staples High School 2015 graduate) and a couple of his buddies stood on our attic balcony, checking it out. I let it hover at their eye level, just so they could see how cool and menacing-looking this hexacopter was. (It has 6 rotors. No, that doesn’t make it a sexcopter.)

From there, I flew it straight up. It hovered over the house, giving me an amazing view (on the remote control’s screen) of the Wakeman athletic fields.

Wakeman athletic fields - Pogue drone

The drone hovered 370 feet up — just shy of its 400-foot, hardwired altitude limit (also the FAA’s maximum allowable height). Then, before my eyes, the drone started drifting away. The controls did not respond!

The screen just said, “Trying to reconnect.” As I watched in disbelief, the drone drifted away over Bayberry, toward Fairfield. I was helpless.

I got on my bike and rode around, looking and looking. I never found it. There’s a $1300 drone in somebody’s bushes somewhere.

Drone flyaways are supposed to be impossible. They’re programmed to return to their takeoff position (in this case, my backyard) if they ever lose their connection to the remote. Somehow, that fail-safe system never kicked in.

A little Googling shows that flyaways do, in fact, happen. (One landed on the White House lawn last year.)

David Pogue, perhaps trying to find his drone.

David Pogue, perhaps trying to find his drone.

The company analyzed my flight logs and concluded that nothing I’d done contributed to the flyaway. But they had no explanation for what caused it.

Nobody’s ever been hurt by a flyaway drone, and companies are working on better sensors, software and electronics to prevent flyaways. But I was really rattled — though not as much as if I’d actually bought this drone. (It was a review unit.)

Friends suggested I tape “LOST DRONE” signs on telephone poles in the neighborhood. I decided, nah. That’s just be too embarrassing.

But if an “06880” reader finds a sleek black drone in their bushes: I’ve still got the remote control. Let’s talk.

16 responses to “David Pogue Loses It

  1. Mary Feakins

    Dan they found one in our neighborhood. Could it possibly be the same one? Contact robfeakins@gmail.com

    Mary Feakins

    >

  2. Mark Yurkiw

    What! a $1300 drone with no GPS to locate it? Even his $600 Iphone has a GPS to locate itself, even $100 Dog collars have it! I hope he drones on and on about about in the review. PS- could it cross Bayberry….i’m on the the other side 🙂

  3. Gil Ghitelman

    Let’s face it: The Pogueman lost his way when he hooked up with Yahoo.
    But we’ll take him back and forgive his transgression.

  4. Hope you find it David. Can the company project approximately where it would have crash landed?

  5. Hi Dan, I think my neighbor Eric Nadler at 29 Manitou road has it. I’ll forward to you his email about it so it can be identified. When Eric sent his email to our neighborhood, I suggested he contact you to find the owner! Leigh

  6. Pretty amazing that there are two solid leads already. Nice community building Dan

  7. Rob Feakins

    I live in the same neighborhood as Leigh Gage. Has to be the drone that landed in his driveway. I will forward this to him as well. How does he reach you?

  8. Michelle Benner

    Menacing indeed. What if it fell on someone and hurt them? Or if it fell on a car and caused an accident? I dislike drones in public places, they feel like an invasion and it’s stressful to have those things hovering overhead at peaceful places like beaches and parks. I hope you find your drone, and I also hope all drone owners operate them responsibly and politely by keeping their drones to themselves.

  9. Wow…hours after Dan’s post goes up, we discover TWO flyaway drones in the neighborhood?! This probably might be bigger than I thought! Anyway, I’ve contacted Rob Feakins… thank you so much, all!

  10. “The best laid plans of mice and men”. Proof that nothing is fail safe.

  11. Carolyn Marcato

    Checking my back yard.

  12. Chris Traynor

    Get ready for the BIG HEADLINE because it’s coming. It might be operator error or product quality or just a simple (but tragic) tech failure (because, alas, technology doesn’t just have a propensity to fail, it often seems as if it is tech’s raison d’etre) but some poor soul is going to be killed or maimed by a runaway (flyaway?) drone. Drones, and the industry that produces and promotes them, will follow the traditional flight plan – becoming ever-cheaper, ever-fancier, ever-cooler and ever-more menacing (especially when we learn that – SHOCK! – drone aficionados have been customizing the shit out of them in workrooms and garages all across America (because who wants the standard-issue drone that everybody else has when, with just a few add-ons from EBAY, your drone (now with a custom paint job including the owner’s nickname or personal political statement painted on its side a la “Air Trump” or “Missiles For Muslims”). As the drones permeate the country and more and more dooofus’s (doofi?) own them, its a given that they will begin to drift, drop and crash land on the heads of unsuspecting citizens (including children, babies, pets and Pokemons) LIKE PLUNGING LAWNMOWERS. Does anyone remember the NFL spectator that was killed while watching a game when the halftime show included a drone. It escaped and that poor soul never saw it coming. At the very least, each prospective drone owner (“drone’r?) should be required to get tattoos on their hands which read “Caution: Drone May Transform Into Anvil.”

  13. Stacie Curran

    While not spotted in our bushes, last week, (around 10:45am?) I saw a drone, (looking like the image of the one shown), flying over the post road at the Southport/Fairfield line – around SBC. It was such an odd sighting, I came home and commented to my children about just seeing a drown flying over the Post Rd!! Perhaps this offers a little assistance?? Good Luck finding it. We will keep our eyes open.

  14. Deborah Press

    I live in the north end of Westport off of Sturges Highway. I too have found a drone. It is small and blue and I have a photo of it if you would like to check whether it is yours.