Although you can purchase one from a toy shop for $20 or so, drones have changed photography and filmmaking forever. Thanks to the low-price, compact design, and simplicity of the typical drone, aspiring directors have the ability to obtain aerial shots once exclusive to the producers of major motion pictures. The vast majority of the world’s drone enthusiasts are little more than hobbyists who wish to shoot some short aerial videos using their airborne camera. Some are aspiring urban explorers, determined to see what surprises await them in their hometown’s most inaccessible locations. Others are treasure hunters, convinced that the only thing standing between them and riches beyond their wildest dreams is a clear bird’s-eye view.
Most of the pictures that have been captured on drones are pretty innocent if a little boring. They tend to show nothing more than some fallen branches and a couple of tree stumps, with the occasional stray frisbee or curious rabbit thrown in to spice things up. On occasion, however, drone enthusiasts have unintentionally captured photos and videos of a far more sinister nature. Those hoping to stumble upon some hidden sack of gold coins deep in a forest have instead been greeted by horrifying visuals that chilled them to their very core, as have the aforementioned urban explorers and hobbyist filmmakers.
Today, we’re going to be looking at 15 of the most terrifying photos ever captured by drones, so the faint of heart should X out now.
Here we go.
15 Fire At The Asylum
This image was captured by an Irish drone enthusiast in July of 2017 and shows what was once St. Kevin’s Asylum engulfed in flames. The asylum, which was thankfully empty when the blaze broke out, is located in Cork City, meaning the consequences could have been far worse had the city’s fire and police departments not been there to get it under control. Of course, getting said blaze under control was no easy task, as the nearby fire hydrants couldn’t provide the water pressure necessary for a timely extinguishing and the fire actually burned through the night before it finally began to slow down. By the time this picture was taken, many of the asylum’s ceilings had caved in and two-thirds of the building had been destroyed.
14 After Chernobyl
When it occurred on the 26th of April,1986, the Chernobyl disaster became one of the most catastrophic events in the history of mankind and remains such today. Caused by the explosion of a reactor core during a simulated power outage, the disaster resulted in 31 direct deaths and left thousands of people with life-shortening illnesses and mutations. The city of Pripyat, where the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant was located, was evacuated in the immediate aftermath of the explosion and the region remains radioactive to this day, with even the most daring of urban explorers knowing better than to risk visiting.
In November of 2014, photographer Danny Cooke used a drone to gain access to Pripyat and document the effects of the disaster nearly three decades after the fact. What he saw was a deeply disturbing portrait of the dangers of nuclear power; crumbled buildings, rusted swing sets, and long-abandoned carnival rides seemingly frozen in a moment that the whole world would like to forget.
13 Hungry Crocodile
Sea monsters have been a cryptozoology mainstay for literally thousands of years, with even the Ancient Greeks sharing stories of unidentified sea serpents dragging ships to the ocean floor. For some, however, there is no need for cryptozoology as the ocean has no shortage of real creatures for human beings to be terrified of.
Take, for example, this image, shot by a drone operator in Baia, Papua New Guinea. In it, we see a freakishly long and disgustingly wide crocodile as it floats through the water with a freshly killed pig between its massive jaws. It should be pointed out that this is a fully grown pig, the kind that would feed a family of four human adults for a week or more, but it was devoured by the crocodile in one bite shortly after this picture was taken.
12 Auschwitz From Above
World War II was fought by the Allies to bring down the oppressive regime the Third Reich and force an end to the persecution and senseless killing of Jews and other minorities across Europe. While democracy ruled the day and the Allies came out on the winning end, Adolf Hitler and his band of vile bigots managed to kill some six million Jews during the Holocaust. The majority of these killings took place in concentration camps established by the Nazis, many of which are still standing today.
Auschwitz concentration camp, located in the Polish town of the same name, is perhaps the most infamous of all Nazi concentration camps. Those who were held captive within its walls were subjected to horrifyingly cruel treatment until they were either put to death by Nazi officers or died of starvation and exhaustion. This image, captured by a drone in 2015, shows a bird’s-eye view of what is left of the concentration camp. From above, we are shown the rows of decrepit cells and laboratories, within which some of the most heinous and inhumane acts of the 20th century took place.
11 A Beheading
Sharia law is notoriously harsh and insists on astonishingly violent punishments for the smallest of misdeeds. In fact, many of the supposed crimes for which one can be put to death while living under Sharia law are not even illegal in most western countries.
This image comes from a drone that was used by an Anbar arm of the terrorist group ISIS to film the execution of a man they deemed to be guilty of “insulting Allah”. The death penalty is barbaric even when carried out by injection (as it is in many areas of the United States), but the execution shown in this picture is particularly brutal. The blindfolded blasphemer kneels with his hands tied and his head on a literal chopping block while the assigned executioner holds a machete aloft, waiting for the signal to bring it down in a terrifying display of the consequences of fanatical devotion to one’s religion.
10 Jump The Shark
Photographer Bo Bridges has carved out quite a nice career for himself as a documenter of alternative lifestyles and action sports. One of the first to embrace drones as a legitimate means of capturing quality shots, Bridges has used his aerial photography arsenal to prove the bravery of surfers, paddle boarders, and all those who dare enter the waters of Australia.
This image, for example, was captured purely by coincidence when Bridges was filming the antics of his paddle boarding buddy Wayne. During the shoot, Wayne, without even realizing the danger he was in, glided his paddle board towards and over a shark who was going about his business in the water below. Had Wayne been aware of the shark’s presence, it isn’t entirely unlikely that he would have panicked and lost his balance. “Ignorance is bliss”, joked Bridges after the absurdly close call.
9 Mermaids In Action
Of all the creatures in cryptozoology, mermaids are arguably the most divisive. For many who are usually not shy about discussing their belief in Bigfoot or aliens, mermaids seem too improbable to give any significant amount of thought to. Others, however, are convinced that these half-human, half-fish creatures exist and dwell in copious amounts in the various oceans of the world.
Mermaid believers often point to this picture, which was captured by the drone of a nautical nut in the summer of 2016. The image shows a group of unidentified creatures moving through the water at a rapid pace, with their blurry top halves suspiciously reminiscent of the human body. Whether the beings shown in this picture are indeed mermaids or not is up for debate, but it’s hard to deny that the image does anything but further the case of those who are determined to prove that mermaids do, in fact, exist.
8 UFO In Flight
California’s Silicon Valley is arguably the number one location for tech businesses in the world and is a popular destination among industry juggernauts and start-up companies alike. With Apple Inc., Adobe Systems, and Amazon all operating out of the region, it is no exaggeration to say that what happens in Silicon Valley seriously impacts the rest of the world and influences the evolution of humankind. I suppose it only makes sense, then, that extraterrestrials would want to explore the area for themselves when visiting Earth.
This image was captured by a Californian drone operator in 2015 and appears to show an alien spacecraft traveling through the sky above Silicon Valley. According to ufologists and scientists who examined the video from which this screenshot was taken, the unidentified flying object jolts across the sky with such great speed that it could only be matched by a supersonic jet.
Over the past couple of years, a worrying trend has developed of British Muslim teenagers fleeing their home country to join ISIS, the terror organization of Islamic extremists that seem to be hell-bent on destroying anything and everything it can. A significant portion of ISIS’ baffling growth can be traced back to the organization’s knowledge of social media and ability to use modern technology to recruit young people to its cause. For example, the ISIS propaganda machine has mastered the drone and has used it to distribute footage of ISIS attacks and their aftermath. This image was released by ISIS in December of last year as part of a video montage intended to show the power of the group. In it, we see an explosion caused by a suicide bomber carrying out their final mission in the Iraqi countryside, while the cars and buildings nearby sit covered in the dust and debris of previous blasts.
6 Black-Eyed Kid
For those who aren’t familiar with the black-eyed children legend, the story goes that these pre-pubescents with dark hair, dark eyes, and pale skin appear on the doorsteps of their would-be victims and request permission to enter the house, usually to use the phone or bathroom. They are polite at first but become incensed when denied entry, as they are unable to cross the threshold of a house unless the owner gives them permission to do so. There are conflicting theories as to just why the black-eyed children are so intent on getting inside the homes of their victims, but all who have encountered them agree that they are not normal youths and almost definitely have some connection to the paranormal.
This picture was taken by a drone user in Cannock Chase during a time when residents of the area were frequently reporting encounters with mysterious children matching the black-eyed kid's legend. The image clearly shows a young girl with black hair and a white dress, standing between the trees in a remote, almost inaccessible area of the English countryside and, if genuine, marks the first time a black-eyed kid has been caught on camera.
5 Weirdest Thing Ever
When it comes to the subject of aliens, the world is pretty divided. The more skeptical among us believe that life couldn’t possibly exist beyond our world, while the most fanatical of UFO believers insist that the existence of extraterrestrials is not only a sure thing but that it has been covered up by the global elite. Those who fall into the UFO middle ground, which seems to be most people, proclaim that the universe is simply too grand for other intelligent life to not exist, but that aliens probably haven’t been visiting Earth and abducting our rednecks and hillbillies.
Since being snapped in the fall of 2016, this picture has been regularly cited by ufologists as proof of alien life among us. The image is a still from a video captured by an unnamed Alberta native who claims that an unidentified flying disc collided with his drone when he was trying to document the changing of the seasons in Canada. The camera operator would later describe the footage as the “weirdest thing ever”.
4 Big Footage
Few creatures within the world of cryptozoology have managed to captivate the mainstream media quite like Bigfoot (or Sasquatch, if that’s your preferred term). For decades now, shaky-handed hunters have been reporting unexpected encounters with Bigfoot in the wilderness of Middle America. Some have even attempted to prove the existence of the beast by capturing it on camera, though the footage is almost always too grainy to be of any scientific use.
This image was captured by a wildlife fanatic in Idaho, who was using his drone to search for animals in a forest near his home. Rather than seeing the usual elk and deer, the camera operator captured footage of what looks to be a bipedal creature, covered in hair and strolling confidently towards a cluster of trees. While the image is indeed unsettling, it is, unfortunately, not clear enough to conclusively prove the existence of Bigfoot.
3 Shark Attack
This picture comes to you courtesy of one Tom Caska, a drone pilot whose original intention was to document the paddle boarding adventures of his brother Andy. However, Caska ended up with the far more interesting - and pretty disturbing - footage of his brother floating across the water, happily waiting for a wave to come, while a shark circles his board.
Andy was completely unaware of the shark’s presence and, at one point, even dangled his feet in the water in what he originally believed was a relaxing moment before the arrival of a wave. Of course, he was shocked to learn how close he had come to being the victim of a shark attack when he returned to land. “Andy had a heart attack when he saw this”, wrote Tom Caska when sharing the picture on social media. “Scary stuff”, he added. Yes, Mr. Caska. Scary stuff indeed.
2 Lion In Wait
There is a reason the lion is referred to as “the king of the jungle”. Even the most jittery, nebbishy lion is a remorseless killing machine, capable of ending the life of literally any living creature with a simple close of its jaws. The image of a lion as it prepares to attack is undeniably terrifying, yet strangely beautiful. For millennia, the only way to see it for yourself was to, you know, resign yourself to certain and certainly painful death.
One drone operator managed to capture a lion pre-pounce by turning his flying camera into a proxy sacrifice. This photo shows a group of male lions - the kind you definitely don’t want to mess with - as a drone approaches their habitat. Two of the three look on in curiosity, while the more violent member of the group readies himself to attack. After swiping the drone clean out of the air, the lions shared it among themselves, chewing on it for the best part of an hour before realizing they couldn’t eat it and then walking away.
1 Crop Circles
If aliens are indeed out there, they are yet to make themselves known to us. However, UFO enthusiasts claim that extraterrestrials have made half-hearted attempts to communicate with the human race through the use of crop circles left in fields of wheat around the world (sort of like Theresa May).
This picture, captured by a British drone operator, shows one such crop circle in a Wiltshire field. It’s actually fairly common for drone enthusiasts to stumble upon crop circles while exploring the countryside, but this image is particularly interesting as it was taken in a field only a minute or two removed from Stonehenge. While Stonehenge is for little more than a prehistoric (and therefore boring) stone monument, many UFO fanatics believe it to be a regular landing site for extraterrestrial holiday makers.