Dramatic footage shot by a drone circling Seattle’s Space Needle shows workers preparing for the recent New Year’s Eve fireworks display — right up until the remote-controlled craft crashes into the iconic, 605-foot structure.
Video of the incident, shared with GeekWire by the Space Needle on Wednesday, lasts for about 3 minutes. The drone, which was not affiliated with Seattle Center or the Space Needle, appears to lift off a few blocks east of the Needle and then ascend high above the landmark on a typically grey and gloomy December day.
According to a news release from the Space Needle, workers were preparing for the annual T-Mobile New Year’s at the Needle fireworks display. The drone comes in for a closer view and visitors on the observation deck even wave at the flying machine.
At about the 2:15 mark of the video, the drone begins accelerating toward the very top of the Needle where several pyro technicians were working 575 feet above the ground. The drone crashes hard into the Needle and footage continues to roll as startled workers gather around it.
“It looks like the drone tractor beam we installed on the Space Needle is working,” Ron Sevart, Space Needle CEO and president, joked in a statement. “This is the third time we’ve recovered a drone on our property.”
The drone, which was identified as a DJI Inspire 1, suffered significant damage in the crash. A web search of the item shows a quadcopter version with 4K camera that sells for $1,699.
The Needle was not damaged, no one was hurt and the incident was reported to the Federal Aviation Administration. The drone is now in the possession of the Seattle Police Department.
Update: On Wednesday afternoon, after GeekWire and others published the above footage, Seattle transparency activist Tim Clemans pointed out on Twitter that since-deleted tweets pointed to who may have been flying the drone.
Clemans shared a Google cache link to the Twitter feed @colepsc — an account which has since been set to protected — and tweets on Jan. 5 that show the user admitting to crashing a drone into the Space Needle.
The profile on the cached Twitter page just said “19 year old videographer.” But a profile link to YouTube goes to the page of Cole Kelley, where the about page describes him as “just a man with a camera, a story and a vision.”
One video on Kelley’s YouTube page, uploaded two weeks ago, shows aerial footage of Spokane, Wash.