I had sketched the scenes I thought I might encounter and planned a few shots, but having never seen the location, I had to think fast when I got there. I wanted to get my initial aerial photos and videos done quickly, then change memory cards, so that if I lost the drone over the ice or in the river, I would still have the initial images. I wanted to take the reader from the meltwater lake and past the researchers as they pulled their floating sensors across the river, then trace the river almost a mile to where it disappears into a moulin, a giant hole in the ice that drains the water through tunnels in the ice sheet out into the ocean.
In Greenland’s frozen air, each battery in the drone lasted only 8 to 10 minutes. I had only enough battery life to fly this route once, and because of the wind, I wasn’t sure if the drone would make it all the way back. After filming that clip, the battery warning came on. If the drone lost power and landed somewhere out on the ice, I would not be able to recover it. I held my breath: The battery lasted, and I guided the drone back to camp.
Cool story with some interesting footage – there is a lot of ice in Greenland. Really fun to read how a seasoned pro responds to a completely unfamiliar situation and new gear. Get the money shots, secure the card and then go for the out of the park stuff. Amazing to think of something like this melting…