Trey Ratcliff on the Stuck in Customs website showcases how he filmed Beijing from above using a DIJ quadcopter. While the resulting photos and video are nothing short of spectacular, the story of how he was detained by Chinese police and had his quadcopter confiscated is quite eerie. Still, a happy ending despite it all.
Let me set the stage here. Beijing is the seat of all Chinese government power. So, deciding to fly a drone over China is kind of like Luke Skywalker deciding to ride his landspeeder on the Death Star.
There are multiple “rings” that encircle Beijing. The first ring is the Forbidden City. The second ring has many monuments and other houses of government. It’s kind of like Washington D.C., except with less communists.
I had flown the DJI Quadcopter for about five days with no problem. I was there with my friend Tom Anderson who also had the same DJI Quadcopter setup as I did. We were both having a great time and getting some really cool shots. I am so excited to take photos and experiment with this thing! We had even flown it several times around police in various places. They never said anything. The police were probably generally confused; their lack of interference only emboldened us.
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