DroneDJ reader Scott Lee was flying his Mavic Pro recreationally in western Pennsylvania when he heard a shot from a rifle not too far away.

At the time, he was hovering, adjusting his camera angle at 389 feet. After the shot, all systems appeared to be normal. He continued to fly the drone. However, when he decided to bring it back, he noticed a big difference in his drone…

Lee told us:

I was flying around and at one point stopped and let it hover at exactly 389 feet to adjust the settings on the camera. Hovering for roughly 1 minute… That’s when I heard a shot but didn’t think anything about it… Flew it back and landed it and then as it was landing I noticed the damage… It didn’t have any trouble bringing it back that I noticed… Looks like a rifle and was one lucky shot.

DJI Mavic Pro rifle damage

From the images, it appears that the Mavic Pro battery bore the brunt of the damage. You can see the layers exposed there. It is very surprising that it did not catch fire, let alone allowed the drone to return to the pilot. Lee guesses it was a 223 caliber rifle but is uncertain. He wasn’t recording footage at the time of the incident.

OK, the person who did this is a bastard but to hit a small drone at almost 400 feet up? That’s a pretty good single shot.

There also appears to be damage to the rear stem of one of the motors and obviously the battery and shell casing took a ton of damage.

Not to get too Zapruder, but

  • it looks like the bullet entered the bottom rear leg
  • grazed the side surface
  • then exited through the battery.

We’re going to see if we can’t get Lee a new battery and perhaps there are a few flights left on this Mavic Pro?

Lee did contact the State Police but hasn’t yet filed any charges.  What do you think?

In case you were wondering:

2. AIRCRAFT SABOTAGE (18 U.S.C. 32)

Amendments to 18 U.S.C. § 32 enacted in 1984 expand United States jurisdiction over aircraft sabotage to include destruction of any aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States or any civil aircraft used, operated or employed in interstate, overseas, or foreign air commerce. This statute now also makes it a Federal offense to commit an act of violence against any person on the aircraft, not simply crew members, if the act is likely to endanger the safety of the aircraft. In addition, the United States is authorized under the statute to prosecute any person who destroys a foreign civil aircraft outside of the United States if the offender is later found in the United States or, effective as of April 24, 1996, a national of the United States was aboard such aircraft (or would have been aboard if such aircraft had taken off) or a national of the United States was a perpetrator of the offense. See JM 9-63.221et seq.

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