Drone flies over Mount Everest: here’s how the stunning feat was done

Not a lot of people on Earth can clam to have summited Mount Everest. And only a few can claim to have summited it with a drone in hand — and to have flown that drone once at the top.

A team of photographers from 8KRAW Films, which is a Chinese videography and photography organization, partnered with DJI to test how they could fly a drone in a highly challenging environment.

Screengrab from 8KRAW

Their drone of choice was the DJI Mavic 3 drone, which weighs 895 grams — not as small and light as something like the Mini 3 Pro or the newer (and cheaper) DJI Mini 3, but far more compact than DJI’s other premiere camera drones like the Inspire 2, making it an ideal drone to pack up the summit. It can handle 12 m/s of wind resistance, to be expected on the high mountains, and of course has a gorgeous Hasselblad camera with a 4/3 CMOS and 20 MP to capture photos from up high.

The DJI Mavic 3 drone

The whole flight (spoiler!) successfully happened on May 27, 2022. But it took some serious months of planning. Back on March 1, 2022, the photographers met with DJI engineers to make theoretical calculations about what it would take to fly from the summit. After all, the environment of Everest is far more complex than flying at the altitudes humans are used to living on. For example, at roughly 30,000 feet, the air pressure (and density) is only about a quarter of what you’d find at sea level, which creates less opportunity for the propellers to “grip” onto the air and stay flying than what it has closer to sea level.

And, extreme weather conditions can mean it changes fast. With that in mind, DJI engineers took some time to build a specialized version of the Mavic 3 drone that would be able to handle the harsh conditions.

Screengrab from 8KRAW

It also took some time not just to engineer an adapted version of the Mavic 3, but also to wait out the ideal time to hike Everest. May is the most common time of year for most mountaineers to attempt to ascend all 30,289 feet of Mount Everest. Its typically shortly after mid-may when temperatures are warmer, the high-altitude winds (the jet stream) have moved away from the mountains, and monsoon season likely hasn’t hit yet, making for the least amount of dangerous conditions to attempt the feat.

But on May 27, 2022 the 8KRAW team reached the summit with a drone in hand. And at the top, they launched the Mavic 3, making them the first climbers to launch a drone from the top of Everest.

Not only is the footage incredible, but DJI engineers were able to collected data from the flights, which they will likely use on development of future drone technology. DJI won’t divulge its learnings, but it is sharing the video of the incredible Mount Everest feat, put together by 8KRAW Films:


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