Because we humans tend to roast if we’re anywhere near Mustafar temperatures, jumping into a volcano is a no-go. But for drones, well, it’s pretty much the same story. Photographer Garðar Ólafs, for example, found that out first-hand recently when he flew his DJI Phantom into the erupting Geldingadalir volcano in Iceland. Now, so too has “guy with a drone,” Bjorn Steinbekk, who full-on sacrificed his drone in a cauldron of lava.
Digg picked up on Olafs’ harrowing video (above), which he posted to Instagram with the caption: “Can you feel the heat? Melted my drone for this shot.” The video—which you need to listen to with the sound on—is only about 15 seconds long. But it delivers an exceptional point of view of a spewing fissure.
“I was flying my drone around the eruption and decided it would be cool to see it from straight above,” Olafs said in an interview with the photography website, PetaPixel. “I slowly lowered the drone until all I could see was erupting lava, and when I looked up, I didn’t see the drone anymore.”
Olafs was flying the drone into the crater of Geldingadalir; which, along with the adjacent Fagradalsfjall volcano, recently erupted for the first time in 6,000 years. (Of course it would now.) And while it’s hard to say what the temperature was at the drone’s altitude, the crater was likely 2,200 °F. “I was really surprised that the drone was still in the air since it was basically inside the crater,” Olafs added in his interview.
Despite its incredible proximity, however, Olafs was still able to fly the drone back to safety. Steinbekk on the other hand, not so much. Although it seems that was by design. The drone photographer says his heroic drone video concluded his six-week stint recording Fagradalsfjall. And that he cried the morning he recorded it because leaving the volcano was so emotional.
Steinbekk’s video shows a belly camera view of his drone slowly descending into one of Fagradalsfjall’s active craters; dodging hunks of glowing lava spewing all around it. Shockingly, the drone’s able to hover over the pit of doom for more than 30 seconds before melting. Immediately above is one of the last images it captured before it died. And all we can say is: RIP Bjorn Steinbekk’s (probably pricey) drone. Thanks to you, we now know what it’d feel like to be a T-1000 melting in a vat of molten steel.
Originally published on March 30, 2021.