Drones dropped from the sky during a failed light show in China, causing scared onlookers to flee for safety.
Over the last few years, a drone light display trend has grown over China. Expensive drone performances are frequently commissioned as part of promotional campaigns by government agencies, enterprises, and tourist sites. Unfortunately, some of these drone light shows have gone horribly wrong.
On October 1, during a performance above a mall in Zhengzhou’s centre city, drones began falling from the sky in the middle of the event, crashing with buildings and vehicles on the ground. Fortunately, no injuries were reported as a result of the occurrence.
Approximately 200 drones were seen in the video displaying the shopping centre’s name before several of them went dark and began tumbling to the ground. Observers were seen fleeing and shouting “be careful” to others. According to a Henan TV report, 5,000 people were present when the drones began to rain down from the sky, most of them being children.
Another eyewitness stated that staff employees helped customers to flee into the shopping mall for protection. They further claimed that other drones crashed into trees far away from the original light show. No one knows what caused the breakdown at this moment, though Vice reports that an organizer told China News Services that “operations errors” might be the culprit.
Drone light shows are pre-programmed to fly the machines in a synchronized manner for the audience’s benefit. Verge Aero, a light show operator, states that “shows are flown by certified pilots, experts in relevant aviation subject matter, including regulations and weather.”
Even so, human miscalculation drone crashes, and there have been documented cases of humans purposefully disrupting drone operations and performances with jammer technology. For instance, in 2018, unknown individuals were suspected of using jammer equipment on a drone light show in Hong Kong, triggering 46 drones to crash to the ground and causing at least $127,500 in damages, according to the South China Morning Post. In addition, in August, news circulated of a police-operated drone colliding with a landing Cessna plane in Canada, inflicting severe damage.
Drone light shows are becoming more popular as companies pitch against one another for the most spectacular displays. At the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in 2018, Intel broke the record with 1,218 drones. China-based Shenzhen Damoda Intelligent Control Technology Co., Ltd had previously set the record by sending 3,051 drones into the sky the year before.