Since high-tech drones were first introduced to the public, daredevils, conspiracy theorists, and rule breakers have been capturing footage of places that at one time, weren’t possible. Drone footage provides the user with a birds-eye view of an expansive area as well as the discretion of not flying overhead with a video camera. Although some people might use these drones innocently, taking artistic shots from overhead, others have a different agenda. Take a look at footage captured by drones in some of the most secretive, dangerous, and sensitive places on earth.
Images From The Crimean Crisis Are Extremely Haunting
When the Russian military annexed Crimea in 2014, it led to a violent and ongoing conflict between the Ukrainian military and Russian forces. Many world leaders, especially Ukraine, condemned the annexation and agreed that it was a violation of international law and Russian-signed agreements such as the Belavezha Accords.
This led to military conflicts between Ukraine and Russia which sparked military action between the two countries. Here lie two destroyed tanks from one of the numerous engagements.
The Debaltsevo Cauldron Is The Remains Of A Horrific Battle
The conflict would lead to what is known as the Battle of Debaltsevo, an instance in which the separatist forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic attempted to recapture the city of Debaltseve in eastern Ukraine. The area had been under Ukrainian control and contained an essential road and railway junction.
Beginning in January 2015, the battle raged with heavy fighting until February when Ukrainian forces were forced to withdraw. Now known as the Debaltsevo Cauldron, one of Ukraine’s bloodiest battlefields, drone footage has captured the aftermath and destruction caused by the conflict.
Protecting Our Species
In Spitsbergen, Norway, located on an island 650 miles from the North Pole, there is a vault dedicated to the survival of our species. Inside of the vault is 860,000 backup seed samples that can be used in the event that the crops on Earth become severely threatened.
Conservationist Carry Fowler in partnership with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research began the project back in 1984 and has continued since. It was funded by the Norwegian government, costing an estimated $8.8 million in 2008.
A Well Thought-Out Plan
The seeds are kept in three-ply foil packaging and are stored in rooms that are kept at exactly -4 degrees Fahrenheit. The facility is designed to keep out all moisture and is in such a location 430 feet above sea level so that even if all the polar ice caps melt, the area will remain dry.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault was ranked No.6 on Time’s Best Inventions of 2008 and was awarded the Norwegian Lightning Prize in 2009. Of course, because of its importance, it is completely off-limits even if you manage to make it to the location.
The Crimean Atomic Energy Station Was Abandoned
The Crimean Nuclear Power Station is an unfinished and entirely abandoned nuclear power plant located on the edge of Aqtas Lake in Crimea. Construction began in 1976, with the small town of Shcholkine being constructed in 1978 to serve as a town for the workers of the plant.
After the highly stressful nuclear disaster in 1986, the plant was inspected, only to be found to be on a geologically unstable site. Construction was halted and the project abandoned in 1989.
It Has Since Been Put To Use
After the site was abandoned in 1989, somebody decided to put the space to use, and it was the location of the electronic music festival Kaznip, otherwise known as Reaktor between 1993 to 1999.
During that time, it was under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Fuel of Ukraine, yet transferred hands to the government of Crimea. However, in 2005, the Crimean representation of the State Property Fund sold the site to an undisclosed buyer.
Syria Is A True Battlefield
Here, a drone has captured the image of Syrian tanks plowing through what was once an occupied civilian neighborhood. The Syrian Civil War has been an ongoing conflict in the Western Asian country between the Ba’athist Syrian Arab Republic and its allies, against both domestic and foreign forces that are in opposition to the Syrian government.
Officially beginning in March 2011, the war continues today and is considered to be the second deadliest war of the 21st century.
The City Of Homs Was Destroyed
Before the Syrian Civil War, the city of Homs was Syria’s third-largest city and a major industrial center with a population over 650,000 in 2004. The city was also full of religious diversity with its citizens ranging from Sunni, Alwite Muslims, Christians, and more.
Unfortunately, during the Syrian Civil War, much of the city was destroyed during the Siege of Homs, as it was seen as a strategic position. Reconstruction to the affected parts of the city began back in 2018.
Daniel Ratcliff Took His Chances With The Chinese Authorities
American citizen Trey Ratcliff, who was living in China decided to fly his drone over Beijing’s imperial palace known as The Forbidden City. However, his hopes that he could fly over the area folly.
It wasn’t long before his drone was caught and Ratcliff was arrested by the Chinese authorities. Ratcliff noted, “Deciding to fly a drone over China is kind of like Luke Skywalker deciding to ride his land speeder on the Death Star.” Luckily, he still got some footage.
What Makes It Forbidden?
Located in central Beijing, China, The Forbidden City is home to the Palace Museum and was once the Chinese Imperial Palace for about 500 years from the Ming dynasty all the way until the end of the Qing dynasty. It housed the emperors, their families, and also served as the ceremonial and political center.
It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the largest collection of ancient wooden structures in the world. The name Forbidden City is in reference that no one could enter or leave without the emperor’s permission.
The Chernobyl Disaster
On April 26, 1986, the No. 4 reactor in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant overheated during a test simulation, resulting in a nuclear catastrophe near Pripyat of the Ukrainian SSR. A steam explosion, followed by an open-air reactor core fire released incredibly dangerous amounts of radiation which began making its way throughout the USSR and parts of Western Europe.
Many of the surrounding cities were evacuated and remain so today, including Pripyat, which is featured in this photo. Chernobyl was one of two nuclear energy disaster rated a Level 7, the maximum severity level.
The Duga System Has Been Long Abandoned
Featured here is a massive Soviet Duga radar system that was completely abandoned after the Chernobyl disaster. Duga radars were a Soviet over-the-horizon radar system used as part of the Soviet’s early-warning radar network. The program ran from 1976 to 1989 with the only two radars ever used being located near Chernobyl and the other in eastern Siberia.
Nicknamed the Russian Woodpecker, the radar was extremely powerful and known to accidentally disrupt broadcasts from all over, leading to numerous countries complaining about its effects.
The Earthquake That Led To A Tsunami And A Nuclear Meltdown
On March 11, 2011, Ōkuma, Fukushima, Japan was struck by an enormous 9.0 earthquake. Immediately after the earthquake, the active reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant was shut down automatically in hopes of preventing any further devastation. Unfortunately, the earthquake also resulted in a massive tsunami which flooded the emergency generators.
This resulted in three nuclear meltdowns, hydrogen-air explosions, and the release of radioactive material over the course of multiple days. It is the only major nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1987 and was rated a Level 7 event as well.
Ōkuma Is A Ghost Town
After the chain of disasters, the surrounding city of Ōkuma was completely abandoned. Not only had it suffered through a devastating earthquake, but a tsunami and nuclear meltdown as well. As of 2013, residents were permitted to return back to the 30 square-mile city during daylight at their own risk, although it will likely never be the same as it once was.
As of 2016, the town had a registered population of 10,700. However, this number is only this high because the municipality hasn’t taken into account all those who have moved away.
Area 51 Remains A Mystery
A United States Air Force facility, Area 51 is a highly classified segment of Edwards Air Force Base inside of the Nevada Test and Training Range. Mentioned in a CIA document during the Vietnam War, the secretive nature of the location has sparked countless conspiracy theories, mostly regarding unidentified flying objects (UFOs).
While Area 51 has never claimed to be a secret base, anything done there is considered to be Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information by the United States government.
One Photographer Got As Close As He Could
Considering that Area 51 is a highly classified location performing top-secret research, it’s clear that nobody, especially citizens, are allowed anywhere close to the base and filming is entirely prohibited. However, in August 2015, photographer Hans Faulkner managed to capture these images using his drone.
Shortly after he released his footage, signs were posted prohibiting any kind of drones to be flown over the area. What he captured is considered to be some of the rarest shots around.
The Reality Of The Meat Industry
Located in Tar Heel, North Carolina, filmmaker Mark Devries managed to capture the horror of a pig factory owned by the world’s biggest supplier of pork, Smithfield Foods. The meat-processing company own 500 farms in the United States and has contracts with over 2,000 others who raise Smithfield’s pigs.
In 2007, it was the top pig slaughter operation in the United States, slaughtering 114,300 pigs a day. The company is known for its use of large barns known as concentrated animal feeding operations and controlling their pig’s development every step of their life.
Capturing Illegal Practices
Trying to prove that something was suspicious about Smithfield Food’s practices, Devries set out with a drone to capture the events taking place at one of their processing farms. He was horrified to discover that the factory farm operators had created their own lake bed and began filling it with pig waste.
The extremely foul and harmful waste filling the “lake” was then being fed into nearby bodies of water. This is a major health risk for the lower income people living in the area.
The Marx Generator Is The Most Powerful In The World
The Istra High Voltage Research Center, otherwise known as the Marx Generator was constructed during the 1970s and was operated by the Moscow Power Engineering Institute. It is believed to contain the world’s largest Marx generator, used to help the test lighting in Soviet military aircraft.
It is made up of massive Tesla Coils, many of which reach heights of over 20 feet. At full power, the generator could generate the same amount of power as all the generating facilities in the country.
It May Not Be All That Dormant
After the fall of the Soviet Union, the facility was deemed inactive. However, that isn’t necessarily the case. It has since been rarely used for private-sector testing, such as when it was used to test the lighting strike resistance of a Sukhoi Superjet in 2011.
The last recorded time it was used was back in August 2014. It is also prone to sudden electrical storms which is why it’s still heavily guarded. Yet that doesn’t stop curious explorers.