📓 Entry #15 — The short life story of a drone named Wall-e

Turns out, grownups can be bad at sharing too.

Maeghan Smulders
A Little Detour
Published in
6 min readMar 11, 2018


March 11, 2018

As you may know, I have really grown into the hobby of photography. Taking a crazy amount of pictures on my phone — I struggled for years on whether or not I should buy myself a nice handheld camera.

I couldn’t justify paying for one of the super intense hardcore cameras..I was just a beginner. I also didn’t like the idea of traveling about with a big bag of lenses and accessories.

But after 4 years of trips around the world with Oli.. I realized that I was never in any of our travel pictures… it was just me taking pictures of him on my iPhone. So I bit the bullet after 2 years of debate and bought a Fujifilm X100T camera.

Best life choice ever.

The camera took great shots, Oli loved it too, and I got the best of both worlds... actually making an appearance in our travel photography as of our trip to Japan, and also the satisfaction of taking some pictures I’m proud of of our trip.

Then, A Little Detour came about… and again on our previous trips we would always make a little Hyperlapse film. Using our iPhones to capture footage of our past 4 adventures (you can see our old videos here). But because we had big plans for our trip, I debated for almost a year on whether or not I should get a GoPro to film these types of movies..

The day before we left on our trip, I got a GoPro Hero5.

It has been amazing. Now we are shooting our travel videos in higher quality and the fact that it is waterproof and can come scuba diving and in more rough situations has been such a gift! We’ve been able to capture so many more moments and vlog in much better quality than our iPhones. Our latest videos are here.

Now… today…

I’m accepting that I’m a hobbyist photographer! Not amazing by any means, but passionate and excited about creative ways to capture stories.

It’s 2018…. And drones have become incredible cameras.

I’ve been on the fence about one for months… they are expensive, can’t fly everywhere.. but SO coooooollll.

We were in Auckland and I convinced Oli after 10 days of talking about it non-stop… “I think we should get in a drone”.

And it worked 😁

We announced the new member of our family to my parents… Wall-e Smulders-Beaulieu was purchased on February 20th at 2:45pm and both parents are ecstatic.

So ecstatic… we had issues sharing… (also, my real parents thought that the drone joke was a baby announcement…which quickly backfired on me and not as funny as I had originally thought. Also, I know children are completely different than drones.. I get it, bad joke)

Drones are a lot of work, you have to know where and where not to fly them, update all the software and be aware of so many different things. It was hard to get a new toy and not be immediately able to play with it.

After remembering that we are adults and needed to chill out, it became easier to share the drone.. but how we used it was very very different.

Maeghan: The creative soul doing short flights and focusing on angles and output.

Olivier: The intense gamer who wants to push the drone to the limit and do extreme stunts.

What goes up, must come down

We were at a place called Devil’s Punchbowl doing a nice hike in New Zealand. It’s a 30 minutes hike you do to a 131 meters waterfall that has a nice wooden landing for you to watch the waterfall from almost the foot of it. I told Oli…

Maeghan: Oli.. We should fly it up and down and get the water fall in slow motion.
Oli: Sure, but I want to fly it down the creek and do some other stuff.
Maeghan: Ok (While in her head….I’ll just let him do his thing even if it stresses me out so we both can share our toy”)

So Oli flies it around, and a lovely Dutch couple comes to watch. They start taking pictures of us, because they think its cool. So Oli goes to launch it... but a warning pops up on the Drone saying “GPS Error” to which Oli ignores and tries to fly around with the flight restrictions… essentially it wouldn’t fly high away from the remote, just low and far.

The kicker here, is two days before I had watched a very detailed Youtube video on all the features and how to be like a pilot and double check everything before take off but he didn’t want to watch it…..

So he is flying it around and the Dutch lady goes.. “oh wow, you can see everything on the screen”

[Scene note: We are on a wooden platform on the right, a river is passing by our left from the water fall and there are tall tall trees on both sides of the waterfall.]

Oli goes to show the Dutch woman his screen, and I am watching the drone.. and noticing that he isn’t flying above the trees, and is also getting very close to the trees….so I comment to him.

Maeghan: Oli… be careful of the trees.
Oli: …….[to the Dutch lady] this is so cool, you can see everything on the screen, and its so awesome.
Maeghan: Oli… The trees! and the wind! Wall-e!
Oli: What, Wheres the Drone?… OH **** OH **** OH ****… NO!!!!!!!!!

Drone crashes into a tree, and we lose sight of it on the phone/remote. The video screen goes black.

Oli starts freaking out and running down the path way to go find it. It fell on the other side of the river, off the hiking trail path.

Maeghan follows with the Dutch couple… surprising chill might I add… kind of realizing a picture is not worth dying for and that its just a drone.. and out of your control.

Oli… runs into the river… and crosses it in his boots and pants (it is freezing) and sits on the rock on the other side. Maeghan realizes the drone recorded the video to the moment the camera shut off, and it is cached on her phone… so she rewatches the drone falling and sees the tree it hit.

📸Curtesy of the nice Dutch lady

Oli looks to the tree and sees the drone, upside down and flashing its lights on an area of the mountain that had a landslide…

Oli goes up to get it.

He gets the drone, crosses the river again and our baby Wall-e… 6 days old… has some face damage, wing damage and a lost leg stand.

Luckily for us, with a new set of propeller wings, she still flies just fine.

The Dutch couple waited for us to get back to the walking path and took more photos of us as we hiked back up. I’m sure they are going to go back home and tell all their friends about the silly Canadian’s who don’t know how to fly a drone.

So…long story short, I am now even more cautious to fly the drone, and Oli.. well, is even more reckless.

Something we do both agree on, we are loving the footage it takes.

We recorded the full crash, so here you can watch the story mentioned above replayed in this video:

See more on our website www.alittledetour.ca🌏✈️👫



Maeghan Smulders
A Little Detour

Hi! 🙋 I'm a tall, homeschooled, well traveled, terrible speller, who loves ice cream, building things and can be hilarious at times 👉 www.maeghansmulders.com