One of the best student science projects in all of Los Angeles County nearly fell victim to a palm tree.
For months, 15-year-old Christian Stewart, of Studio City, toiled away, trying to develop a low-cost drone that could fly on its own, take orders from a computer program and shoot video from hundreds of feet above the ground.
The Harvard-Westlake freshman managed to create a $500 foam glider with a computer and a camera on board, which he estimates costs about $24,500 less than other experimental civilian models.
Stewart personally wrote the computer program that runs the drone, and judges recognized his work by awarding it first place at the Los Angeles County Science Fair a few weeks ago. He said a biologist even approached him about ways to use the drone to quietly track wolves in the area.
Then last Friday, just 10 days before Stewart was set to take the drone to the California State Science Fair, a test flight went awry.