Worlds First Drone Was Actually A Pigeon

Little known fact: there was a world before the internet. Which also means there was a world before drones, terrifyingly bad reality TV, and frayed iPhone chargers.

In this world, some of the first aerial photography was taken using pigeons. A guy named Julius Neubronner got tired of the same-old balloon and kite aerial pictures he was seeing when he scrolled through his newsfeed. Er, sorry – we mean newspaper. He had been delivering medication by carrier pigeons when he had his ah ha! moment.

homing pigeons drone aerial photographs

He decided to strap a camera to a pigeons chest and rig up something similar to what we now use as a timer for taking selfies. Neubronner took a two-lens camera (yes, they never used to be attached to phones) and attached it to a lightweight pigeon harness. Although he had absolutely no control over his pigeon photographers, aerial photography was so new that everyone thought his birds-eye-view pics were cool AF.

pigeon photographer

Neubronner became insta-famous for his pics. Even though the pigeons’ tiny bird brains couldn’t possibly understand framing or lighting in their photographs, people still loved the photos. Neubronner capitalized on peoples love for instant gratification (sound familiar?) and created a horse-drawn dovecote on wheels that could be used as he moved from one place to another. The dovecote had an attached darkroom meaning photos could be developed on the spot. This way, people could have aerial-viewed photo postcards of their city within moments.

homing pigeons drone aerial photographs

If only Neubronner could see society now, with our drone footage and instantaneous picture-taking technology.

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