ST. BART’S, GUSTAVIA – One thing that truly makes a trip to the Caribbean unforgettable? Getting your drone shot down by Russians with an anti-drone cannon.
On Thursday, Droneworks Studios, a US drone company, released a YouTube video in which co-founder Justin Oakes tells the bizarre story of when a Russian billionaire tried to take his drone mid-flight. The incident happened in December while Justin and Elaine, his co-founder and wife, were on vacation.
“It was insane. Literally, the most bizarre thing I’ve ever encountered,” Justin said.
It all started when Justin and his friends spotted superyacht, Eclipse, from the deck of their cruise boat. Eclipse, the world’s second-largest private luxury yacht, rumoured to be worth between $800 million and $1.5 billion USD, is owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.
As he tells the story in the video, Justin describes how we flew his personal DJI Phantom drone toward the yacht to get a closer look. Mid-flight, he loses control of the drone. Confused and embarrassed, he spots a person on the Eclipse deck with a cannon-looking device pointing right at his drone.
The Eclipse crew struggled to confiscate Justin’s drone. Being an expert drone pilot, Justin was able to break through their anti-drone technology and fly the drone back to his boat.
Since its release, the YouTube video has gained the attention of mega-influencer and entrepreneur Casey Neistat (@CaseyNeistat), who was with Justin during the incident. With over 9 million YouTube subscribers and 1.7 million Twitter followers,
this is amazing. my friend at @DroneworksUSA shares the story of when a Russian billionaire tried to steal his drone mid-flight. I WAS WITH HIM WHEN IT HAPPENED. totally wild experience
In the video, Justin also references the importance of drone safety and ethics. This combined with his personal account sparked conversation in the comments section. Does leisure drone use pose a threat to privacy? Will anti-drone technology be available to average consumers and law enforcement in the US? And what rules will come into play if consumers can own anti-drone technology?
A story with the potential to go viral, Justin hopes to use it as an example for other drone pilots. He advises, “The key is to fly responsibly, safely… Don’t fly into things that you’re not supposed to. If you ever see that boat, stay away from it because it will snatch your things.”