His virgin flight and crash!

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What a great sunny cool day today but it took me quite a bit of effort to “lure” Harshad to go out with us. In the end, it was the temptation of drone-flying that he accepted my invitation to join us for a short “droning hike” at Kowloon Reservoir.

I thought we were heading to a new place. We ended up at the notorious Monkey Hill (Kam Shan Country Park). There were so many curious and aggressive monkeys around, I never like coming here. Tracy got “robbed” by a monkey 5 years ago when we last hiked here. I was worried for the safety of my small drone. It is never a good idea to leave a drone on the ground with these “snatch thieves” around.

Keeping my word, I handed the controller to Harshad. Within seconds, he took the drone to the sky. Confidently and superbly in control, Harshad operated the drone like a pro. (That’s my evil plan to get him hooked so I can convert him to another drone buddy!). Just when he was flying in ecstasy, he crash-landed the drone. Nothing serious, except a small crack line on the camera lenses. Of course, that didn’t dampened our mood, Harshad successfully attempted his second flight.

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It was not bad at all. Harshad managed to capture quite a lot of good footage. He just need to fine-tune his turning and panning. All good. Now, I may proceed to step 2 – to get him buy this drone which he had just crashed. Sales take time, especially with my Indian prince.

Sunset at Hong Kong’s most beautiful peak – Tai Mo Shan (大帽山)

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8 long years in Hong Kong and I totally missed it. I never knew the sunset view at Hong Kong’s highest peak was so stunning. It simply took my breath away! All these years, I have completely overlooked it. Not until I saw the beautiful photographs on Aaron’s Facebook. Best of all, the 2nd-tallest coastal peak (at 957m tall, almost double the height of the Victoria Peak) of China is accessible by car. Its peak was just a short 30-minute drive away from Central! For lazy people like, there is no need to hike for hours to reach the top.

I underestimated the cold weather at the peak of Tai Mo Shan. Hiking against the cold strong wind, I was trembling in my shorts and slippers. Normally, I had high tolerance against cold weather but this was too much for me to bear. Even the batteries of my iPhone and drones weaken drastically. My shivering body kept telling me to descend the mountain but the beautiful view kept me going.

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There weren’t many hikers, I saw less than 10 people. It was the best time to fly the drones. I had 6 fully-charged drone batteries to last for at least 2 hours. The “strong wind warning” kept flashing on the screen. Mavic Pro was fairly stable and its nimble motors managed to keep it afloat steadily throughout the flight. In the end, it was my iPhone who let me down. Its battery went flat and I lost vision. Thankfully, Mavic Pro’s Return Home feature landed precisely where it took off.

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I stayed at the peak for another 15 minutes and watched the sun set. The night view was even more beautiful. With the last light out, the fog set in and the temperature dropped. A pity I wasn’t warmly dressed to last through the night. Time to make my way back to the city. I will be back for more – with better camera gears and most importantly, a hot pot of tea.

She booked me a wrong trip – to Vietnam!

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It has been an exceptional hectic year, I was working till the final hour before Christmas Eve. Felicia and Elkan flew back last week and I had no plan for Christmas holidays. Originally, I wanted to surprise the Wahbiang clan in Malacca but the dates were too tight for me. Since I was overwhelmed with work and had no time to check with the tour agency, I asked Tracy to book us a short weekend trip to ZhangJiaJie City (张家界) at Hunan. I always wanted to visit this scenic place where the movie Avatar was filmed. It will be a fantastic location to hike and fly my new drones.


Knowing Tracy, she is always unpredictable and full of surprises.
Of course, I didn’t share with her my full intention of a “droning tour”. She totally disregarded my initial instruction to book a pair of train tickets to Hunan, she got us two air tickets to Ho Chi Minh City instead! When I found out, it was too late to make any changes. I had been to Ho Chi Minh so many times and it wasn’t my ideal destination for a short break. Worse, this city is notorious with confusing regulations for drone pilots like myself. I feared another Yangon deja vu. Will my drone be confiscated at the custom?

With less than 18 hours to flight time, I decided to take a risk. Instead of bringing the new DJI Phantom 4P+, I packed the smaller DJI Mavic Pro (without the propellers to avoid custom hassle) into my large suitcase. With my past experience in Yangon, it was much safer to check in than to hand-carry the drone. I was stopped previously in Yangon because of the odd-looking drone backpack. It is always wise to blend in with the crowd.

It was a nerve-wreaking 2-hour flight from Hong Kong to Vietnam. I was mentally prepared for the worst-case scenario. Reading other travelers’ experiences on the internet didn’t help a bit. Vietnam is still a communist country and drone is a highly controlled item. Losing a drone is nothing new for me. I have lost an Inspire 1 on my birthday 2 years ago. I was prepared to give away a free Mavic Pro to the custom on Christmas Day.

Moment of truth! My decision to bring a smaller drone was wise! The custom officer at Ho Chi Minh airport didn’t stop me at the X-ray checkpoint. The large suitcase went through the X-ray machine without activating any alerts. It worked! What a great relief and joy! Truly merry Christmas! (On my way out, I was stopped and questioned about the large sized Mavic Pro batteries. I told them those were camera batteries. As I put the batteries in Li-po safe bags, the strict custom officers at Ho Chi Minh allowed me to bring them on board)

We parked ourselves at a very small boutique hotel (Fusion Suites) with very zen-and woody decorated interior. I love the hotel settings and its warm friendly staffs. The best thing about this hotel was their daily complimentary breakfast and oil-massage for all hotel guests. I tried the 60-min oil-massage and it was terrific!

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Ho Chi Minh City changed quite a bit since my last visit in 2013. There are many more malls (Saigon Center, Takashimaya) sprouting across different districts. There are a lot of new condos and offices constructions. It is no longer the sleepy city of yesterday. It seems like a city in transformation.

I visited my buddy, Kevin (a Singaporean friend I met in HCM back in 2007)Strange but true, we have never met each other in Singapore. All our last meetings were in Hong Kong and Vietnam. I visited his beautiful new office and he bought us delicious local delicacies for lunch.

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Tracy and I spent the next 3 days shopping, eating and exploring different districts. It was planned to be a “recharging and relaxing” retreat for my super-exhausted mind and body. We didn’t pack this trip with any crazy itinerary.  It was just a simple, quiet and lazy holiday. We did the usual touristy stuffs and explored the city mainly on foot. There are so many new and beautiful retail shops and cafes around.

Ben Thanh Market was a huge disappointment, the vendors were greedy and aggressive. They offered the same things I saw 3-10 years ago, nothing new and more expensive. It was becoming a tourist trap for first time visitors. With more competitions, Ben Thanh should reinvent itself, if not be replaced and lose its glory over time.

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This city is best to be explored on foot than from the air. I didn’t spend a lot of time flying the drone. There isn’t much landmark or natural scenery to capture. No doubt, Vietnam has many beautiful scenic places for drone-pilots, HCM isn’t the right spot. The city was way too congested and I didn’t feel safe flying. In fact, I had a difficult time trying to find a quiet and safe spot to launch the drone. The narrow streets and walkways were packed with scooters and people. There were too many hanging electrical cables, roof-top satellites and lamp-posts obstructing the drone. After 2 days of serious considerations, I decided to climb up the hotel’s rooftop for a short drone flight.

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The drone flight took less than 3 minutes in total. There were strong signal interference everywhere. Ascending to the rooftop was much more exciting and fun than flying the drone. Tracy and I were trying to figure our way up to the top without being caught by the hotel’s security cameras or staffs. Just a little thrill and fun to spice up the quiet day.

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Fully recharged and geared to face another uncertain new year. For sure, I be back to Vietnam very soon for my next drone flight. Stay tuned.

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Wahbiang Melaka Trip (Blog by Felicia)

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BLOG BY FELICIA. VLOG BY ELKAN (31st Dec 2016)

Wahbiang have been planning for many years (at least 10 years!) to go for an overseas trip together. But it was never fulfilled due to work and family commitment. Timing was an issue as we needed to plan way before for applying leaves and making sure our kids could join us too. And we also needed to make sure it fits everyone’s budget.

Finally during Sam’s birthday gathering, just a comment from Joanne who missed the chendol in Melaka, we decided we should just all go to Melaka! With a long weekend, favourable currency exchange for Malaysia Ringgit, and such a nearby destination, it was the perfect short getaway. We were all planning to have lots of yummy food. There were requests for chendol, Peranakan food, chicken rice balls, Hokkien mee, wonton noodles, chilli crab, etc. Basically it was all about food!

Gareth, Sam and Lionnel came alone with no kids, no hassle. Joanne, Karen, me and our two boys, Alston and Elkan. Thanks to Sam who gave us a morning call at 5:48am which was way too early for a 9:15am coach. He was really excited about this trip!

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Many travelers were taking the coaches to Malaysia. There were almost 1-2 coaches arriving at the deport every 15 minutes. Our coach was delayed. By the time we cleared the long queues at both the customs, it was already 12 noon. We were all very hungry by then and it made us look forward to our dinner! Gareth was drooling at the thought of food.

Finally, we arrived at Melaka at around 4:30pm. After checking in and dropping our bags, we headed out to find the dinner place (Restoran Tong Sheng) which was very popular in Melaka. Indeed, there was already a queue by the time we made our way there. From the Singlish we picked up from the conversations around us, it was obvious that the queue was mostly made up of Singaporeans. So typical to see Singaporeans in long queues especially for great food! And we were part of it too. Haha… 😀

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It was a long one hour queue before we could get our seats. Our tummies were rumbling, our legs were sore and tired, and the boys were bored waiting. But the spirits were high! We had in mind what we wanted to eat, mostly imagining the satisfaction after this mouth-watering meal. I must say the food was really tasty, especially the cheese bee hoon with prawns and the dark soya sauce hokkien mee. The otah with steamed egg and fried sotong were our favourites too. We were so bloated after the heavy dinner but it was satisfying! Especially the bill was way below what we expected. Worth coming back again, definitely.

After such a heavy meal we still couldn’t resist the temptation of desserts…. we had to have waffles with chocolate, chocolate molten cake, hot chocolate drinks, coffees and teas. Simply sinful!

The next day, most of us got up early for breakfast at the hotel. The food was good but we were still hoping to get out for more local food. Unfortunately, Gareth was not feeling too well. He was disappointed that he couldn’t seem to eat too much now. So much food, not enough time to digest. His mind wanted… But he’s stomach didn’t allow! We had to give him a boo as he was the one who excited us with plans to eat, eat & eat!

Right after breakfast, we took a stroll to Jonker Street. Surprisingly, the weather was quite cooling and windy too. The azure blue sky was dotted with fluffy white clouds and the trees swayed gently. Very unlikely to be so pleasant. Usually it was very hot and humid in Melaka. We were definitely enjoying the good weather. As we arrived at our destination, we see long queues at the chendol hawker stall by the river and the chicken rice balls. The street was busy and bustling with food vendors and the colourful trishaws.

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Our first stop – wonton mee. At 12 noon, they have already sold out their noodles! Thankfully the stall aunite said she could buy some kuay teoh from the neighbouring stall if we were ok with that. We were more than happy. The wontons were very yummy!

Next stop – Chendol. This chendol stall was what brought us here on this trip. Joanne was looking forward to it. As usual, there were long queues in the shophouse. We managed to get a small table and ordered 4 bowls to share. Standard not as good as before, probably due to the overwhelming orders from the customers. Some of the diners had to stand outside the shophouse to eat.

Along the way back, we were still munching Nonya kueh, Chinese cookies, cheese tarts and egg tarts. Bought lots of goodies for our families back home.

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After a long day of walking and eating, time to rest. While some of us went for a massage, Lionnel & me bought the boys back to the hotel for a relaxing swim. The boys had lots of fun at the pool and in the hotel room too. Sorry Auntie Karen they destroyed your whole bathroom 😛

Dinner time! My Melaka Auntie recommended a more home-cooked style dining place to us. It was a small shophouse near a bridge over the Melaka river. Very friendly folks. The elderly lady boss was very kind to help us save cost, afraid that we might over ordered our food. A boy who looks barely 12 years old was helping serving dishes to us. Needless to say, our boys are so fortunate.

The oyster omelette was not up to expectation as it was a slightly different style from our Singapore version. But the rest of the dishes are very good. The boys loved the dark soya sauce hokkien mee. The steam pomfret was very fresh. Another happy meal for our tummies with couple glasses of beer for Sam, Joanne, Karen & Lionnel. Unfortunately, Gareth was starting to feel unwell again. He was feeling heaty and feverish. But he was still determined to have his Corny Dog and root beer at A&W after dinner! Way to go! Buuuuurp…..

And yes, we all did had a quick meal at A&W. We were so full that we had to walk around the mall to help with the digestion. We took a long walk across the mall and went to a snack store and bought more goodies for the folks back home. After that Sam spotted a Bak Kut Teh store and suggested we go for it. But we were too full, so we decided to add that into the next day’s food itinerary.

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It was indeed challenging to have a hotel breakfast and Bak Kut Teh and a Peranakan lunch, as planned before we board the Coach that travels back to Singapore at 2:30pm. We managed the first 2 but had to forgo the Peranakan lunch as there was a long queue and we didn’t have that much time left. So we headed back to our hotel for a simple meal at the cafe. Bought lots of egg tarts and bread for the long journey. Afraid there might be long queues at the customs again. But thankfully, it was a smooth ride back home and no traffic jams or queues too!

By now, Gareth is feeling much better after a good night’s rest. And since we returned back to Singapore early, he suggested that we should have dinner before we go home. Haha… not letting go any chance for a good meal! And we were happy to have Charlie, Lusia, Jacob & Christy join us for dinner! It was another nice steamboat meal. Feels like a Lunar New Year dinner.

Such a joyful and fun food trip! Thanks for all the spontaneous response and fun jokes we had throughout the trip. We missed our other Wahbiang friends. Looking forward to another trip soon! Enjoy the Video! 😛

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Whisky blending at the world’s best single malt distillery – Yilan Food Trip

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Heavy workload has taken quite an unusual toll on our yearly Christmas vacation. No matter how early I planned my vacation with Felicia and Elkan, major important projects disrupted all my planning. Unable to spend 2 weeks away with my family, I felt really terrible and guilty. Thankfully, they are very understanding and loving. After a few adjustments, I managed to plan a short weekend getaway with them in Taipei last weekend.

As always, I kept the destination a secret. Elkan had no idea where we were bringing him. He was extremely excited when we told him that we were flying to Malaysia. He is a foodie and he is fond of all savoury street food. Since he didn’t know we were traveling up north, he packed very little clothes. Thinking it must be hot and humid in Malaysia, Elkan wore shorts and jersey. He was actively planning his eating itinerary when we were walking on the air bridge.

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As blur as he can be, the streets of Taiwan do resemble the shop houses of Kuala Lumpur. He simply had no idea that we tricked him until we pointed out to him. Of course, he wasn’t intrigued by Taipei 101 or Ximending (西门町). What captivated his senses were the braised pork rice and peppery Taiwanese sausages!

We took the morning flight and arrived in Taipei at 1030am. We dropped our bags at the hotel and hired a taxi for a 4-hour round trip to Jiufen and Shifen. Weather was surprisingly good, this was the first time when I didn’t need to carry an umbrella. It was raining cats and dogs the last 4 times I was here.

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It was extremely crowded at Jiufen Old Street (九份老街). There were so many Singaporean tourists here too. It was so easy to identify our own people. Felicia, Tracy and Elkan were delighted by the local street delicacies. They just couldn’t stop munching.

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At Shifen Old Town (十份老街), we visited the newly renovated Shifen Waterfall Park (十份瀑布) and the old railway town where hundred of people were releasing sky lanterns (孔明灯/天灯) on the railway track. We were very lucky to see the train bypassing the old town (timing: 430pm-5pm). It was an unexpected and interesting sight. We didn’t even have time to figure out what was going on until we saw the approaching train. Within seconds, street vendors ushered the crowd out of the tracks. It was a very narrow track and when the train went by, I was just standing less 2 feets away. What an experience!

Despite the warning penalties and signages, the crowd gathered back at the track instantly right after the train left. What a dramatic and spectacular scene transformation.

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Day 2 – next morning, we headed out to Yilan (宜兰)with our Taiwanese friends, Chen and his son, Yifang. They drove 2 hours from Taizhong (台中) and picked us up at our hotel in Taipei. The journey to Yilan took around 90 minutes with a couple of jams along the highway.

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We stayed one night at a modern farm hotel (River Forest Farm Hotel) located at Dongshan. Surrounded by paddy fields and fancy villas, we explored and cycled around the big farming estate. The air was so fresh and cooling. The calm reflection of the paddy fields created a surreal landscape, a healthy and quiet place to calm my hectic mind.

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I was looking forward to fly my new Mavic Pro at Yilan but weather condition was awful. It rained for 2 continuous days. Stranded indoor, I had to forego all the outdoor itineraries. Instead, we visited some of Yilan’s prestigious food factories.

Kavalan Whisky Distillery was one of the main reasons why I made a stopover at Yilan. It is afterall the world’s best single malt Whisky! The distillery was free and opened to public. There was no age restriction, children of any ages were welcome. To my disappointment, there wasn’t any guided tour. Tour was pretty much self-guided and intuitive with many educational exhibits. I gave my son a short Whisky induction. From malting to distilling to ageing, we were greeted by Kavalan’s massive production line. We stopped by the retail store for more free whisky tasting and bought a couple of miniatures for our friends back home.

photo2photo5photo4Before we left, we signed up for an exclusive Whisky DIY Class where we got to blend and personalize  our own whisky. We spent about about 45 minutes inside the classroom experimenting over 15 unique blends. In the end, all of us picked Chen’s creation as the most favourite blend. Using his recipe (1.5A, 1.5B & 3C), I reproduced 2 bottles for our VIP friends!

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Chen recommended 2 other big factories that we must visit – the famous Taiwanese cookie (宜兰饼发明官) and rice noodle factory (宜兰虎牌米粉). Elkan was super happy because those were his favourite food! It was a great educational trip for the 2 young boys. For the adults, we enjoyed all the delicious food samplings! We had so much yummy food that there was no need for lunch! It felt like a road trip down Australia’s Margaret River where tourists are pampered with local dairy goodies.

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All in all, it was a very short getaway with the family. Work was constantly, subconsciously flashing in my mind despite being away from office. Nevertheless, it was a good break with many priceless family -&-friends moments (our failed Mannequin Challenge and Extreme Bottle Flip was hilarious). As the saying goes, work hard, play harder. Enjoy the photos and vlogs. Looking forward to our next adventure!

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Aiya, chasing the Red Bull Flugtag dream!

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It has been a dreadful long wait, winter is finally here and so is my family! Felicia and Elkan arrives just in time for the cool season. Today’s weather was fantastic, cool and sunny. Perfect for a nice family outing on a Sunday afternoon.

What’s even better is cheering for our dear friends, Team Aiya Dreamchasers at our very first Red Bull Flugtag event! Thanks to my wonderful ex-colleagues (Kathy, Jasmine and Fay), their participation gave us another compelling reason to drop by. Geared with portable camping chairs, we sat through 3 hours of amazing outdoor entertainment. The participants were so creative with their home-made structures. Their pre-takeoff performance and 3-second plunges were even more spectacular and hilarious!

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Despite not winning the competition, Team Aiya Dreamchasers flew with great style. They had the longest “airtime” on the big screen. Armed with Nikon P900 83X Optical Superzoom, I managed to squeeze myself at a very tight vantage point with tens of professional photographers. Yes, they were pretty professional, many came with stools and super long lenses. It was challenging to find a line of sight through the mass of shutterbugs. The space was really tight and uncomfortable. I had a lens above my head and on the right side of my face.

All the photographers were pretty quiet through the performance until Team Aiya took the stage. It was so funny to listen to the photographers’ comments when Aiya pushed their “Dream-Machine” to the edge of the platform. In fact, it was the most talk-about performance.

“Wow… this one must be very special! No running take off! Standby camera!” one photographer said to his friend. Everyone of us lifted the camera to our face and paused. It was like the scene from the Mannequin Challenge. It was the silence before the thundering clicks.

After 3 long minutes of no movement, more photographers started to grumble among themselves. Unlike the rest of the participants, we were able to anticipate the drop with the running take off. For Aiya, it was standing still at the edge of drop. We were all waiting patiently for “that moment”. Something must be wrong as the launch music was replayed 3 times.

“What the hell is going on? My hand aching already! Faster, jump! jump!” an old man holding a heavy long zoom lens complained out loud. “PK! What’s holding up?”

Another photographer encouraged the old man. “Keep holding the position. I am sure it will be a blast off! Maybe with spring mechanism”

Suddenly, Aiya’s structure moved and hundred of shutters firing off continuously. To everyone’s surprise (and shock), it fell 90-degree straight into the sea! 

“PK! PK! PK! Now my hands are too tired for the next performance!” yelled the same old man who stood still faithfully with his gigantic long camera lens. Everyone around us broke into laughters. At least, this is one performance they will remember for a long time, I smiled to myself. 

I am sure the members of Aiya enjoyed their journey to the big Redbull Flugtag platform. It may have started off as a casual idea but the girls made it happened! Without any financial support from the company, they worked passionately to see it through. I witnessed their love and passion through their Facebook videos and photos. As an outsider, I felt so proud of them!

Aiya, aiya, aiya – Fly high! And thanks for reminding and motivating all of us to chase our own dreams! 

I crashed my Mavic Pro

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It took off with such great stability but something went very wrong at the 45th second, the Mavic Pro suddenly drifted sideway and crashed onto the hotel’s rooftop. No matter how “seasoned or experienced” one is, accidents do happen. This is the very reason why pre-flight precaution is of ultimate importance. I always spend time to inspect the environment and wind condition before every take off. Prior to this flight, I inspected the surrounding to ensure the flight path was safe before flying out of the balcony. Originally, I wanted to fly the Mavic Pro over the ocean to capture the Macau skyline. There was no one in front and the wind was light. Unfortunately, something went wrong, the drone drifted autonomously and crashed.


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Thanks to the very friendly staffs at Sheraton Hotel, they spent a great deal of time and effort to help me to retrieve the lost drone. As I bought the DJI Care Refresh Program when I purchased the drone, I will be able to get a brand new replacement at only USD79. I will be bringing the damaged drone to DJI next week for an inspection. The log report will certainly identify the main causes of this incident. Stay tuned and fly safe.

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