Based on my extensive knowledge of volcanoes (I’ve seen Dante’s Peak multiple times), driving out to the edge of an active, particularly ominous-looking one—for any reason—seems like not a great idea.
But then again, given the awesomeness of the molten lava-laden video above, who am I to really judge?
The ridiculous footage comes courtesy of Eric Cheng, director of aerial imaging for leading drone manufacturer DJI, and photographer Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson, who traveled to Iceland to capture the volatile Bardarbunga volcanic system in action. Using DJI’s Phantom 2 quadcopter and a GoPro (and a helpful wireless video transmitter), the duo was able to record the incredible images by first driving to within about a mile of the active eruption—the closest cars were allowed—and then, after finding they were not yet in range, closing the gap to half of that on foot.
Per Wired, the drone’s ultimate journey into the center of the action was also not without complications, as the signal cut out multiple times midflight, due to either ash or electrical charges from the lava. On the last run over the fiery abyss, Cheng lost all signal from the copter (including video), causing him to activate its autopilot. When the Phantom returned, the reason for the complication was obvious—it had gotten so close to the lava field that the front of the GoPro had melted completely.
Damaged camera aside though, things could have been much worse—the next morning, the wall of the volcano broke, with the lava reaching the spot where they had been standing the night before.
Pierce Brosnan was nowhere to be found, probably.
You can watch the story behind the amazing footage below.