Bendigo families gifted drones as Christmas presents lost devices on first flights

Excitement has quickly turned to despair for several children gifted drones this Christmas, with their families reporting the toys missing soon after lift-off.

With some models selling for as little as $30, drones proved a popular present for tech-savvy young people this festive season.

But inexperienced pilots and strong winds have contributed to a spate of lost drones in the Bendigo area.   

Twelve-year-old Bryce Chalker lost his Sky Viper v2400HD drone in North Bendigo on Sunday. 

It was the first time he tried using the aircraft. 

His mother, Skye, said it was “very disappointing” the drone lost contact with its controller seconds after becoming airborne.

A corresponding phone app tracked the craft to a height of eight feet before it too lost connectivity. A camera that could film the drone’s flight was not turned on at the time.  

Ms Chalker was one of several parents to use social media to call for help locating a lost drone in the days after Christmas.

“I posted it after knocking on some doors and not having some luck,” she said. 

Other people also turned to the internet to report drones landing in their front yards but so far none of the found items belonged to Ms Chalker. 

Karen Lock and her 14-year-old son scoured their California Gully neighbourhood looking for a drone that went missing from their backyard last week.

They were learning to use the remote control of the black, red and white device when it disappeared from sight.  

“He must’ve hit the wrong button because it suddenly headed north,” Ms Lock said.

“He just, he didn't know what to do so he turned it off and we ran out to the car.”

She thought the drone could have ended up in Eaglehawk or Maiden Gully, perhaps even coming to rest in the nearby recycling yard. 

“I'm not sure if it would've kept flying until the battery went flat, which is about five to seven minutes for that model, or if if just fell out of the sky,” she said.

Both Ms Lock and Ms Chalker said, in hindsight, they could have labelled the drone so it could returned when found.

“I think Christmas will have been very sad for some families,” she said.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority warned parents ahead of Christmas drones were not a “give-and-forget” gift

CASA aviation safety director Shane Carmody said the popular present should came with obligations.

“Parents and carers have a responsibility to teach their kids about drone safety and to supervise flights until it is clear the kids know how to fly safely,” Mr Carmody said.