A flight to remember

By Austin Jackson | Published Saturday, December 1, 2018

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As I strolled through the post-Black Friday mire at the TJ Maxx in my hometown of Prosper and saw the crumpled packaging for a once awesome piece of aeronautical engineering in the bargain bin, I didn’t hesitate.

For years, my dad has expressed his desire for a toy helicopter or drone. Something fun and juvenile for the accountant who would opt to spend most of his free time on the golf course or the treadmill.

Austin Jackson

I purchased the creme de la creme, Elite Mini Orion Glow-In-The-Dark 2.4GHz 4.5CH HD RC Camera Drone for a mere $34.99. I saved it from its bargain basement prison.

It had spy camera technology. More importantly, it had an “easy mode.”

A mode that soon proved to be a necessary feature. It would soon be free.

Christmas could wait. I couldn’t as I displayed the fine neon green drone to my dad. The Sunday slate of football games was boring at best, and we needed an activity to take us to the final dinner of Thanksgiving.

Plus, the drone looked pretty sweet. And my dad’s wait would soon be over.

We busted open the box and got to work. We had the battery charged, the AA’s stuffed in the controller and after much fuss, downloaded the necessary app to his phone.

I could see his dreams of being a pilot light up in his eyes, despite our bickering about technology and why updating your iPhone can be useful.

We figured it out, and after about an hour of assembly and charging, we were ready to go. We staged the drone in the backyard, and my dad let ‘er rip.

After about three brief “flights” that hovered inches over the grass before tumbling upside down, I decided to take the reigns. No more skittering. I was going to let this bird stretch it wings and show him how it’s done.

I got it flying all right. It was my inaugural flight, but I left the nest like a pro. I took the training wheels off. No easy mode for me.

With correct pressure on the joysticks, I maneuvered the drone 20 feet, then 30 feet into the air. My heart soared higher.

It was glorious. The neon lights lit up the suburban skyline. 50 feet. And then – MAYDAY.

I lost control and my visual on the drone. I blamed a strong northerly gust, but most likely it was the hand-eye coordination I inherited from my father.

Some believe it’s still in the air. It is most likely stuck in the neighbor’s tree. The spy camera readout on the app showed branches and not much else.

I felt so ashamed of myself. What had I done?

Something so beautiful and joyous was ended so callously, by me.

But my dad didn’t seem to mind. We had our laughs as we conducted our search mission to no avail. It was a Thanksgiving tragedy, one that we’d do all over again. We acted impulsively. And I both reaped the rewards and paid the price.

It’s safe to say I shouldn’t invest in one of the drones that retails in the thousands.

But I might have a good idea on what I can get my dad for Christmas.

Another cheap drone for another comedy of errors and hopefully – triumph.

Austin Jackson is a Messenger reporter.

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