Five Steps to Operating a Drone

imagesMy friend Nettie got a drone for her birthday. Unlike those high-tech models capable of photographing the origin of black holes, this one looked like something my brother once built in shop class. It did, however, possess a whimsical personality.

So, Nettie’s husband John and I, plus a couple of neighbors settled into lawn chairs to watch the drone’s maiden flight. It seemed harmless enough for a Saturday afternoon diversion. After all Nettie and John live on a large farm with an expansive lawn and garden, and lots of fly space. What could possibly go wrong?

Step one. Nettie fired up the remote controls and launched the tiny missile. Unfortunately she had not acquainted herself with the joystick. Hence the drone took off sideways, then banked left in John’s direction causing him to fall out of his chair while attempting to avoid a beheading. Unabashed the drone rocketed to the right, struck the garden fence, and shot up into the top of a smoke bush. A ladder rescue ensued.

Step two. The drone took off in the same unpredictable manner, though this time it hovered just above the zinnias. It also alerted a few barn cats that came loping across the yard and assaulted the annoying intruder. Though the drone managed to stay airborne, the cats landed a few nasty scratches on Nettie’s bare legs. The scene was beginning to resemble an Irish dance with a kitty chorus line.

Step three. Stung by the refrain of laughter coming from the lawn chairs, Nettie invited any one of us to take over the joystick. We all figured this was a spectator sport and declined her invitation.

Step four. She tried once more. By this time lots of cats had arrived. They were just in time to witness the drone “pruning” a few Sum and Substance hostas. From there, it proceed to buzz the neighbor’s golden retriever, gain altitude and make it over the garden fence to the top of a maple tree. John headed to the garage for a longer ladder.

By now the drone was looking a little shopworn from all the cat pummeling and hard landings. We agreed this experiment might go more smoothly if we moved to a bigger space with fewer obstacles. At that point, I offered to give it a try, as we marched to the nearest horse pasture.

Step five. Well… I managed to get the wretched thing off the ground, though it quickly disobeyed my instructions. We all watched in wonder as it cruised over the broodmares, bounced off a compost pile and took aim at a forty- acre cornfield.

Step six. It took three days to find the little tyrant and return it to the box in which it arrived.

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