Yesterday the Huffington Post authored a story about a drone breaking through a window, hitting an interface designer in the head, and giving him a headache.
Mr. David Perel may be an interface designer, but he is also something more, something nefarious in the eyes of the UAV/Drone community.
He’s unbelievable in his claims of being a victim.
And the Huffington Post is helping to elevate his prevarication to the detriment of UAV operators/pilots.
The mere shape of this “break” is the first clue to the hoax. It’s obvious the impact point to the window came from inside the window and not outside. Next, the shape is too “cartoon-like” and contrived. For example, notice the two “fang” shapes hanging down. How did the drone pass through that section without either scratching the heck out of the drone, and more importantly, without breaking any props? Anyone who has tipped a DJI Phantom on its side knows the stock plastic props will break with only the motor velocity, yet we’re expected to believe that static glass didn’t break the props?
Note the round patttern of the break. The battery on the Phantom would have had to have been the primary impact point in order to create this sort of patterning, and it is physically impossible for the battery to have struck the window. The arms, props, and landing gear all would have hit first, and these are all extremely fragile (Ask any DJI owner; there are thousands of photos of broken props/landing gear.)
Additionally, the size of the window provides a tensile strength, one that there simply is no way a 2lb piece of fragile plastic could have broken. Small surfaces are stronger than large suspended surfaces.
The glass pattern on the floor also indicates a hoax. Notice that the photos and video don’t show the shatter pattern? Shattered glass patterning is well-researched, well documented, and this doesnt fit.
Objects on the desk provide clues; they’ve moved between photos being taken. Admittedly, this is a less obvious clue, as objects may have been moved around when taking stills.
This is the view just prior to impact. Somehow, the camera shifts from a forward face with a landing gear/leg in the shot, to a rear-ward face with the same landing gear in the shot, but manages to somehow capture an arm/prop, too. None of the movement is consistent with an out-of-control drone. Why do we never see Mr. Perel, the alleged victim, in any of the rotating video shots? After all, it did strike him hard enough in the head that he’d experienced “a headache” that was needed significant recovery time. Where are the pictures of the cuts or bruises? These are flying Cuisinarts, after all.
None of these points add up. At 00:13 into the video, there is an obvious edit point. Watch the video at quarter speed. Why would there be an edit point in a “this is the whole story” video, particularly at the point of impact?
The article quotes Perel as saying there was a GoPro camera on the drone, and he removed the memory card before looking for the owner (this was later changed both on Huffington Post and on the victim’s Instagram page).
Mr. Perel certainly knows what a GoPro camera looks like. His YouTube page is filled with GoPro videos, so he apparently has one or access to one.
Yet this Phantom has no GoPro on it. It has a factory-built Vision camera that looks nothing like a GoPro. He says in his instagram post that “he removed the card from the GoPro.”
Note that the Phantom has no damage other than a half-broken prop. The hoax would be more believable had the very fragile landing gear, and equally fragile gimbal been at least damaged. Every hobby store that sells DJI has at least a few replacement landing sets around, as these thin bits of plastic frequently break or crack during normal landings. One company, PolarPro, even makes a landing gear/gimbal protector, due to the fragility.
Mr. Perel is likely also desperate for web views to please his sponsors (most of us are). Until this video hit, his videos have suffered from low numbers of views that don’t quite support the claim to being the great advertiser his buiness webpage suggests. He claims to have millions of eyeballs on him every month. From where? What evidence supports this claim?
Mr. Perel claims on his business page that he is a good advertising partner.
I believe Mr. Perel has other motivations to gain eyeballs on his site; a couple of clicks on his website demonstrate he’s looking for money to achieve a dream. he needs money for his endeavors and doesn’t mind reaching out to get it from others. What better way to draw eyeballs to his cause than a pathetic plea for attention?
He has a headache.
Perhaps he was up all night creating the hoax with friends?
His twitter account demonstrates that he knows how to edit and process video, supposedly like a pro.
For a would-be sports star that has “millions of viewers” it’s surprising that only 28 people gave $4K in a month. Apparently these millions of eyeballs aren’t people with money?
Mr. Perel’s own Twitter account demonstrates that on-line views are his source of income. The 8,800 followers compared to his 31,000 tweets suggest his marketing schemes aren’t so effective and are a far cry from the “millions” he claims to be able to deliver to advertisers.
My speculation is that Mr. Perel is needful of attention and created a very well-done hoax that Huffington Post (and other publications) didn’t research prior to publishing an article that on the surface appears to be a real story. This disappoints me because I’ve generally considered Huffington Post to be a higher-grade, more truthful and accurate publication that digs into stories prior to publishing. From my chair, their credibility took a huge hit with this story and HP should take a huge hit with anyone reading this blog post. It’s difficult to blame anyone for trying something new to draw page views.
Congrats Mr. Perel, you’ve gained your Warhol-ian 15 minutes of fame. I only hope it’s not at the expense of South African UAV regulations becoming more restrictive.
Shame on you Huffington Post; you’ve deeply disappointed me, and I’m sure many others in publishing/perpetuating this clever, but easily dismantled hoax that may prove harmful to the UAV/Drone industry worldwide.
 Mr. Perel deleted his Instagram pictures and claims of injury after I chatted a link to this blog. I have emailed the constabulary, CAA, and other authorities in South Africa to alert them to the fraud/hoax, in hopes that no authority misunderstands this situation and takes no action against drones due to Mr. Perel’s publicity stunt.