DRONES

Watch This Drone Operator Get Bodied by a Horse

Gianmarco Gabriele says he won the GoPro Million Dollar Challenge, but lost some dignity in the process.
26 July 2020, 10:35pm
A horse about to smack into Gianmarco Gabriele.
Screenshot via Gianmarco Gabriele on Instagram

Seeing someone in a drone headset get completely wrecked by a majestic 2,000 pound animal galloping at full speed is kind of satisfying. Especially since the pilot is fine. 

Italy-based drone pilot Gianmarco Gabriele was filming a horse in full gallop, flying his drone around it, when the animal ran full-bore toward him. Because he was flying a first-person view drone, or FPV, with a full headset and handheld radio controls, he didn't see it coming. The horse trucked him, knocking off his headset and sending the drone, pilotless, into the dirt a few yards away. 

In the video from the drone camera's perspective, you can see the horse swerve away from Gabriele's flying demon machine, and head straight for the oblivious pilot. He doesn't get trampled, but the horse shoulder-checks him hard, and he's a spinning mess of drone control pieces and 

In the instagram caption, Gabriele claimed that he won last year's GoPro Million Dollar Challenge, for which he submitted some of this footage. Winners aren't announced on the GoPro website yet, and Gabriele did not respond to a request for comment.

Gabriele gave some sense of what it's like to be straight-up trucked by a horse in his Instagram caption recounting the event: “It was like being hit by a train. Luckily I got out of it unharmed!" 

The horse community and the drone community have a history of tension: In 2017, several people were injured at Silverton, Colorado's "Skijoring" horse race when a drone operator flew too close to the racers, spooking the horses.

When Gabriele's video made it to the r/multicopter subreddit, people had strong opinions about his lack of a spotter, how close he flew to the horse, and whether he was an asshole for scaring the animal. Most commenters sided with the horse here. 

"Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. Horses and cattle can severely fuck you up or even kill you in certain circumstances, so if you are in their field have your wits about you," one Redditor said. "Don’t spook them and then stand there gormlessly with something that’s effectively a blindfold on." 

I've reached out to Gabriele to ask for more details on how bad that shit hurt, and will update if I hear back.