Drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, serve various functions. For fun, they're utilized by hobbyists, and for accessing remote and difficult sites, they're utilized in various types of professions, including photography, journalism, real estate, art, and sports.
Much like some of the other technologies, the concept of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in the public sphere lagged behind the military world, which had started using UAVs in the early 2000s for reconnaissance. The military also used UAVs to eventually strike missiles and kill targets, all while navigating the UAVs from a remote site. Of course, the military drones used to deploy missiles are bigger than the drones used in the commercial world.
In the commercial world, there are drones of various shapes, sizes and cost; one drone, the Ehang 184, is even big enough to carry a person of up to 220 lb for about 20 minutes. It can take off and land with the click of just one button. In case something goes awry, it's coded to land automatically. The use of such drones isn't widespread yet, however.
More common are the quadcopters or any of the smaller drones capable of flying with a camera for recording. These drones are extremely helpful to access places that would otherwise be too costly or dangerous. While most these drones are controlled by a handheld remote, some manufacturers are considering incorporating VR goggles for control via head movement.
Most of the time, drones capture amazing scenes, but we’ll look at 20 most disturbing images captured by drones.
20 Gray Whale
At number 20, we have something that's disturbing yet nothing too dangerous or noxious. It’s a picture of a whale hanging around (and below) a couple of swimmers at the Laguna Beach. "A whale?!" you might think. Yes, but that’s a gray whale, which is big, but unlike the killer whales, it generally doesn’t eat mammals, resorting instead to benthic crustaceans and other small preys. Although not evident under water, gray whales are layered with parasites and various other organisms, giving them the appearance of crusty ocean rock. Gray whales use their baleen - a comb-like structure - to sift through their food. But when you're swimming around and spot a whale nearby, these facts don’t come to mind. Only a gut-wrenching reflex occurs.
19 Clown in a Cornfield
Okay, so we're not sure how to explain this. It looks like a teenager was filming the landscape of a cornfield via a drone in Huntsville, Alabama. His drone takes off smoothly over the low-grass field and passes through the woods nearby. The drone then reaches the cornfield and travels its length. All of a sudden, it spots a clown-like figure standing in the middle of the cornfield. The face seems to be embellished with clown make-up, and the body, a brightly colored t-shirt. As the drone comes closer, the clown starts running fast and disappears into the woods. The drone operator didn’t follow through, perhaps fearing for the safety of the drone. The image is disturbing in itself; imagine stumbling upon a clown in a cornfield... However, it could be staged, considering there were a couple of houses near the cornfield, making the occurrence of such paranormal activity unlikely.
18 Driving into Innocent Protesters
Here's a picture of a white supremacist at his worst. Let me give you some background. When the city of Charlottesville decided to remove the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, a group of white supremacists joined forces to oppose that. Apparently, these young, white males didn’t want their history to be effaced, and they chanted racist slogans and carried semi-automatic rifles, swastikas, and anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic banners as they protested. The counter-protesters, understandably, argued against the radical notions of the supremacists in the rally. Not being able to withstand reasoning or sanity, one of the supremacist members rammed his vehicle into the counter-protester crowd, killing one innocent person and injuring 19 others. The driver was arrested. I guess “peace for all” isn't something that everyone can grasp.
17 Bacon for Crocodile
Even crocodiles love bacon. On a serious note, though, this is quite a disturbing picture. This crocodile has been living near the small village Baia in East New Britain since about three years, according to the drone operator. Being a reptilian beast, it snacks on unfortunate pigs and dogs from the local area. This time, it caught what seems like another pet pig as indicated by the leash about half the length of the predator. I can’t imagine my pet being swallowed like that—and I don’t even have a pet. While such saltwater crocodiles are capable of feeding on other predators, including sharks, I’d imagine that would at least be a fight to watch. Here, it looks like there was no fight - just a one-sided battle, considering the ease with which the croc is swimming with the prey between its enormous jaws.
16 El Nino
Here's another one of those disturbing images, an image capturable only by a drone, as other mediums would be too difficult, unsafe or expensive. Watching the effects of a natural disaster like this is always disturbing. Here, you can see the land continuously eroding away as caused by the severe weather cycle of El Nino. The strong waves relentlessly collided into the coastline, and the incessant rain made everything more prone to come out like this. Conditions were so severe that two properties were evacuated. A drone captured a couple of minutes before and after the cliff collapse. It's scary—although quite fascinating also—to watch the video. While the properties were evacuated and those residents were safe, imagine having this happen suddenly—you plummeting down as the land beneath you shifts away.
15 Sunbathing on a Rooftop
This image clearly captures the fears associated with a drone. Since drones have become so much more capable and powerful, one starts to wonder about the legal aspects of flying a drone over a personal property. Pictured above is a woman who was tanning in the sun on her roof in Slovakia - nice and peaceful so far. However, out of nowhere comes flying a drone and hovers over her half-naked body. As it tried to get closer to the woman, she hurriedly ran away from it, going behind the walls. Back she came with a broom to try to take down the drone while still covering herself with a towel. Of course, the drone operator managed to keep the drone safe from the broom. While some may have suggested this was a prank, it's disturbing nonetheless to think about what drones are potentially capable of.
14 Pontiac Silverdome Stadium
This stadium cost nearly $56 million to build back in the '70s, and a 2015 aerial view of it is disheartening, to say the least. The stadium hosted a lot in its lifetime: a Super Bowl, a visit by the Pope, an NBA final, an Elvis concert, a WWE show, and other such events. Things started taking a bad turn back in 2002 when the Detroit Lions moved to Ford Field, though. Ever since, the condition of the stadium has worsened. The city tried to turn it into other attractions, such as a drive-in theater, a monster-truck rally stadium, and a soccer stadium, but found no luck. The owners sold some parts of the stadium, including the copper wiring and the turf with the Lion’s logo. This drone-captured disturbing image shows the crumbling interior and a torn roof. Fast forward to 2017, and the stadium has been partially demolished with an implosion.
13 Wind Turbine Sunbathing
This one is also disturbing - although in a different manner. Unlike the other two images, where privacy was intruded upon, this one involves a questionable use of public space. It’s a picture of a man sunbathing. Unlike normal people, though, he was 200 feet in the air on top of a wind turbine. After seeing the open hatch on the turbine, the drone operator thought it was the maintenance man. Upon closer examination, however, it seemed like a normal human getting Vitamin D on a bright and sunny day. One possibility is that it was a maintenance man just sun-basking up there. Whatever the case may have been, one thing's for sure: he liked heights. Others probably sweat and physiologically heat up at the sight of the picture, but this man seemed to enjoy the manner in which he got a little warmer.
12 Chernobyl: The Ruins
The Chernobyl was arguably one of the worst nuclear accidents in the history of mankind. During a safety test, the immanent instability of the reactor design, in combination with a misconstrued arrangement of the core, led to a steam explosion. The fire that followed continued to produce updrafts for about nine days after; Western Europe was imbued with an unimaginable amount of radiation, with 134 people being hospitalized due to physiological damage from the burst of acute radioactivity. Of those, some died within days after the exposure as cells began to mutate and lose functionality. Here's a creepy picture of the interior of one of the buildings. It looks abandoned—and it is, in fact, abandoned— and even seems like a haunted house. No one dares to visit it because of the radiation.
11 Farmer Fires
We're back with incidents resulting from drones and surveillance. Let me explain the story behind the farmer aiming his shotgun at the drone. The drone operator was filming the landscape and checking out the beautiful house in the suburbs of England. Perhaps the owner was tired of seeing frequent UFOs, or he was simply tired of seeing random flying objects with cameras. Whatever the case may have been, one thing was for sure: he was not going to let it go. Walking briskly in his Wellington boots, he came out angrily towards the drone. Coming close enough a distance to aim properly, he shot the drone to the ground on the first attempt. The drone operator didn’t understand the farmer’s intention until a few seconds before the fire, but it was too late by then.
10 Hurricane Maria
Wind, rain, and unimaginable destruction brought on by the Hurricane Maria rendered most of Puerto Rico and Dominica in terror. This is just one of the shocking images of the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which took at least 547 lives, although the actual numbers are likely to be higher. The areas severely impacted by the hurricane lost electricity, communication, and transportation as the hurricane swept away people, trees, cell towers, power lines and roads—anything that came in its way—to the door of destruction. While not clear from the picture, there was a river nearby the four-lane highway, which aided in the destruction of the roads. That’s cement being torn apart! The photographer thought it looked like the result of an atomic bomb. Yikes.
9 Destruction of Mosul
Drones can capture the top view beautifully—except when the landmark is an aftermath of a battle-laden city as then, the images become more shocking and disturbing rather than remaining aesthetically pleasing. Pictured here is an image of the ruins of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in the city of Mosul. The Great Mosque had a long and rich history. Standing 148 feet tall, it was built in the 1100s. Famous for its leaning minaret, it was destroyed by the ISIS in 2017. Along with the mosque, the city, at large, was destroyed by the continuous assaults and airstrikes. Almost half of the 1.8 million population was left to find refuge elsewhere; schools, hospitals, homes and other infrastructures were annihilated and rendered uninhabitable as a result of this turmoil.
8 The Arthur Kill Ship Graveyard
Located on Staten Island, the ship graveyard is an apt place for the lost spirits to occupy a physical location—it's been abandoned for years now. But that wasn't always the case. During the World War II, the scrapyard owners used to buy defunct, old ships and harvest the valuables. Unable to keep pace with the influx of vessels, which was accelerated by people bringing in their own dinghies, it eventually just became a place to collect damaged ships. Now, no one dares to cross the “No Trespassing” sign, beyond which lie rusting three dozens of ships of various sizes in shallow water; some are afloat, others sunken to varying degrees in numerous orientations. The picture feels like there was an accident, and now, no one wants to look back at it again.
7 Volcano in Vanuatu
This is slightly disturbing, considering the drone is hovering over a well of one of the hottest fluids you probably know of - magma. But I must admit it’s also one of the coolest things that the drone is capable of filming. A little background... The Earth is composed of several layers. The innermost layer of the earth, the inner core, has a temperature of roughly 7,000-8000 °C; the outermost layer is around 0-870 °C. These scientists lost several drones in their endeavor to better understand the dimensions and the habitat of the crater. Some drones couldn’t withstand the heat and fell into the mouth of the lava. Imagine being near the volcano. One wrong step, and you would suffer the fate of some of those drones.
6 Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa
Here's another disaster-related aftermath picture captured by a drone. This unfortunate wildfire’s cause remains undetermined to date. The Tubbs fire, so named because it began near Tubbs Lane, started on October 8, 2017 and then didn’t stop fully until October 31st. Accelerated by wind gusts as fast as 41 mph, the blaze turned into ash more than 5,000 structures, with more than half of those in the city of Santa Rosa. The Rosa neighborhoods suffered unimaginable destruction—even a fire station burned to the ground. As one of the residents explains, he didn’t have a chance to pack his belongings. He woke up to the smell of smoke in his bedroom. Without a blink, he gathered his wife and the dog to drive away from there. Others weren't that lucky; 22 people died in this massive casualty.
5 In the buff and on a billboard
So, if you had some doubt about the authenticity of the Slovakian woman sunbathing, this Australian one is real… really real. The sun-baking woman’s back was captured by a real estate agency's drone, whose operators were trying to get some aerial views of the adjacent house that they were trying to sell. That picture was even used for a billboard of the real estate agency—what’s more attractive than a nearby waterfront and a woman lying half-naked in the backyard? The real estate agency claimed it was an oversight, which is a bit doubtful, especially considering the whole point of billboards is to make the company look as successful as possible—a lot of detail goes into a billboard. The woman whose body was captured dismissed the flying object as a children’s toy initially.
4 Demise of the City of Homs
What used to be a city with a population of a million, the city of Homs appears lifeless after suffering a civil war for five years. Homs served as the fort for those opposed to the tyrannical Assad regime in Syria. The civil war started back in 2011, when people tired of Assad’s tyranny protested, only to be suppressed violently. Since then, more than 6 million Syrians have been displaced internally and around 5 million have fled the country to a safer place. While the picture shown here—close enough to the structures to be identified, but not too zoomed out as to cause confusion—is only one view of the massive destruction; the video does a much better job. It’s far too unsafe to hover around these buildings, as the remnants are likely to fall—hence the use of drones.
3 Shark vs Killer Whale
Nature is beautiful. You and I both know that. But the live action of nature, as captured by a drone, may not be as appealing, though; things become a little scary. You've always heard news stories about sharks attacking humans and have probably also seen pictures of sharks floating underneath humans surfing. Ever wondered who eats those sharks? Or did you even know something besides natural death precipitating their demise? Here's a picture of a killer whale feeding on a Sevengill shark in the most playful manner possible. Ranging from 20 to 26 feet in length, the male whales weigh around 6 tons on average. That’s exactly 12,000 lb. In case you didn’t know, much like the sharks, they also have teeth. Due to the sheer size of their bodies, though, their jaws and biting strength are bound to be stronger than a shark's.
2 Dead Man’s Fingers
I can’t pinpoint the exact reason, but this picture looks ghostly and disturbing. It reminds me of the evil spirit that haunts this island. For one, what appears to be like a dead man’s fingers (formally known as Codium fragile, a type of seaweed) is scary. With the tide going forward towards the shore, the various fibers of the seaweed face the direction of the shore, which from far above looks like a new species of spider—and no one likes spiders. Then, you have the southern elephant seals on the right side, which, from the angle and the distance of the drone, you can’t tell if they're dead or alive. They look small, making it seem like a dozen dead fish washed up on the shore. And let’s not forget the red, spiral-like structure on the left. Not sure what that is, but it sure looks spooky. Honestly, the entire picture is unnerving.
1 ISIS Proliferates
This one undoubtedly wins the number-one spot on the list. I thought nature was cruel after reading and writing about all those sharks and killer whales, but I forgot to consider some of the so-called humans. It’s a blemish on humanity that should've been culled as soon as it arose, but unfortunately, ISIS continues to spread like germs. Following the doctrines of Sunni Islam, the goal of ISIS is to become a worldwide caliphate for all Muslims on Earth. Not sure what gave ISIS such a crooked mentality, but it's become a terrorist organization responsible for innumerable human rights abuses. It's known for beheading soldiers, civilians, aid workers, and journalists. Pictured here is the beheading of a man who insulted Allah, allegedly. The severed head was surrounded in a pool of blood afterward, in the middle of a road.
Sources: mirror.co.uk; nydailynews.com; dailymail.co.uk