When I arrived at the pond early in the morning, I was pleased to find that the parking lot was nearly empty. I’d finally saved up enough to get myself a drone to take pictures and footage with, and when it had arrived in the mail yesterday, I had immediately scrapped all my plans so that I’d be able to take it out for a test run today. Crystal Park Pond had been one of my favorite places to spend time in nature for as long as I could remember, so it only made sense that I use it as a trial run for my new gear.
After parking, I took the box out of the car with me and lugged it over to the little field where I planned to launch it. I took everything out of the box and made sure all the parts and pieces looked functional before setting the little vehicle on the flattest part of the earth I could find.
When I used the remote to power up my new contraption, the propellers all whirred to life, and my drone began to rise slowly but steadily into the air. I rotated the drone this way and that, checking to make sure my video feed was correctly corresponding to the drone’s movement, and once I was satisfied that the feed looked good, I signaled the drone to rise high into the air. It worked like a charm.
The views coming through to my controller were absolutely breathtaking, thanks to the lovely weather that morning and the clarity of the drone’s camera. I took shot after shot of the way the sunlight glinted on the surface of the lake and the wispy white clouds against the clear blue of the sky, and I made sure to film a few clips of the way the leaves of the trees swayed gently in the breeze. I’d been specializing in nature shots for years now, but none of them had ever turned out quite like this.
When I spotted a bird with gorgeous plumage perched in one of the trees the drone was facing, I was instantly intent on getting closer. I navigated the drone closer, slowly and carefully, trying to get the best angle so that the sunlight would light the bird. I had very nearly gotten it just right, when suddenly something ran right past the camera, throwing it all off balance and scaring the bird into flying out of sight.
I couldn’t help but be disappointed that I’d lost such a lovely shot, but in nature, everything was unpredictable. An animal could come along at any time and bump or jostle the camera, and some had even attacked mine before. Except, when I rewound my footage to try to see exactly what kind of little critter had been to blame for my ruined photo op, I noticed something very strange in the corner of my feed’s frame. It looked like a pair of red sneakers.
That didn’t make sense. Why on earth would someone be running through such a wooded area when there was a perfectly fine path just a few yards away? Before I had any more time to contemplate what else it could have been, a policeman and another man in an apron had come rushing up to me in quite a hurry. I looked at the quizzically as they both took a moment to catch their breath. They’d obviously been running a little ways because it felt like forever before they finally started talking.
“Excuse us, miss, but did you happen to see a man with a large black bag running this way?” the policeman asked me, still gasping a bit.
“Uh, I don’t think so,” I answered, thinking back on everything that had happened between my arrival at the pond and now, “May I ask why?”
“He robbed my shop!” the man in the apron cried, “Came blasting into the gas station as I was restocking some shelves, threatened the girl at the register and told her to give him all the cash. Luckily, I saw the officer here coming out of our bathrooms, and we started chasing the brute. He was so reckless, too, knocking into everything and throwing everything all over.”
“Wait a minute,” I chimed in, recognizing some of the behavior he’d described, “Did you get a look at what he was wearing, by chance?”
“Yeah, he was wearing a stupid sweat suit and these ugly red tennis shoes,” the man with the apron scoffed.
“You’re in luck, gentleman,” I addressed the pursuers, “I wasn’t sure at first, but I have indeed seen your thief, and I bet I can find him again.”
“By all means,” the officer replied, gesturing vaguely at the remote in my hands.
I lifted the controller and began pushing buttons and flipping switches until my drone was back on the trail of the thief. All three of us were huddled around the video screen trying to catch sight of the man we were after amid the bushes and trees and other plants flying past the drone’s camera. And then we spotted him.
“That’s the guy!” the man in the apron shouted.
“Get him!” the officer bellowed at the same time.
“I’m not exactly sure how you want me to do that,” I squeaked.
As it turns out, I was able to use the drone’s camera to see some familiar landmarks that allowed us to pinpoint exactly where our criminal was, and the officer was able to radio that information to a squad car doing patrols in the area. The other officer was much closer to the other side of the pond where the thief had escaped to, but he wasn’t able to escape the second time around. The officer, the man in the apron, and I all watched in amusement as the other policeman came running into the camera’s view and practically launched himself at the perp. All in all, I was sure I’d gotten some pretty excellent material for my first day with my new drone.