Bali’s worker adventurers devise epic moody over Mt Agung’s crater

UBUD, Indonesia: A tiny hand-made aircraft lies still inside a bamboo shack. Its wings – light with splendid orange stripes – are built atop one another, subsequent to a remote control, laptop, wires and rotors.

If all goes as planned, it will be a initial worker to ever soar above Mount Agung’s void as a dedicated volcano of Bali verges on what could be an approaching eruption.

“We wish to strech a void and see what is function inside,” Azhar T Pangesti told Channel NewsAsia after a integrate of exam flights on a black beach of Siyut.

Further adult in a northeast, reduction than 40km away, Mount Agung is brewing.

The extent of Mount Agung can be seen behind a clouds. Its tallness of some-more than 3,000 metres above sea turn outlines a top indicate in Bali. (Photo: Pichayada Promchertchoo)

Over a past few weeks, some-more than 600 volcanic earthquakes have been rescued around a towering each day. Besides a high frequency, seismologists have also available a flourishing of Mount Agung, clever magnitudes of a quakes and plumes of prohibited gas seeping by a crater’s surface.

For them, these are worrying signs that a volcanic tear could stone Bali during any moment. For some 140,000 residents on a island, it means potential jeopardy and evacuation.

More than 1,000 people were killed and countless villages ravaged when Mount Agung erupted 54 years ago. Anticipating a intensity disaster, a Indonesian supervision is creation preparations to forestall detriment of lives, including relocating residents in hazard-prone areas to safer locations.

Azhar and worker enthusiasts prepared an aircraft for a exam moody on Siyut Beach. (Photo: Pichayada Promchertchoo)

While seismologists continue to observe a volcanic activities by graphs and numbers, a organisation of extraordinary locals are attempting to do a same regulating a drone. They wish to yield a closer demeanour inside a large void – a kind of visuals a open can simply know – before it becomes impossible.

“Everyone is on red alert. The news is all over a place. Some people have common controversial cinema on Facebook and there is confusion,” pronounced a 35-year-old businessman from Bandung, adding arguable information now usually comes from violcanologists.

But information from seismographs isn’t for a open to interpret. So anything visible from a crater, we hope, would move some clarity.


Calling himself a geek, Azhar is a pivotal member of a new Bali-based beginning dubbed Mata Agung, definition a Eyes of Agung.

Its aim is to guard a volcano’s building conditions by audio-visual imagery granted by tech-savvy Indonesians, who share a same passion for film, photography and aerial technology.

“Mata Agung is an beginning corroborated by tiny communities, brought together by a cisis,” pronounced Azhar.

“We’re examination a mountain.”

A sketch taken by a worker shows Mount Agung, an active volcano in Bali. (Photo: Azhar T Pangesti)

The pivotal proclivity behind this polite watch is a miss of new photographs and videos of a active volcano amid an liquid of information about a conditions.

To conflicting online inaccuracies, a participants are regulating apparatus their have to yield a open with a latest updates on Mount Agung, formulating an choice source of information that projects a stream conditions by elementary visuals.

“Although a many critical information comes from a experts, we – a typical people – also wish to see a conditions in cinema and videos,” pronounced Kadek Lebah, a worker fan and member of Mata Agung.

“This way, they’d be reduction curious.”

“We’re examination a mountain.” (Photo: Azhar T Pangesti)

Public regard of Mount Agung has turn some-more formidable given a supervision announced 0 open activities should sojourn within a ostracism section – a hazard-prone area covering a 12km radius from a mountain’s peak.

As a result, Mata Agung member Wahyu Dwi Nugroho has been streaming live imagery of a volcano on YouTube, regulating a CCTV camera trustworthy to a GSM network in a protected zone.

For aeronautic enthusiasts such as Azhar, however, an even clearer design is probable from a sky.

“During this season, it’s always cloudy. There is no transparent viewpoint of a towering many of a day. But from aloft up, we can see a crater. So a sky in a approach to go.”

A worker flyer watches camera feeds from an unmanned aerial aircraft during a exam flight, regulating an FPV (First Person View) goggles. (Photo: Pichayada Promchertchoo)

If they conduct to sketch a crater, a group skeleton to contention a visible formula to volcanologists, as they trust aerial photography could assistance them consider a conditions some-more effectively.

“The officials might already have apparatus to detect volcanic activities though they don’t have anything that constraint a volcano visually,” Azhar said.

“So we’re perplexing to offer another viewpoint of a towering and it’s from a air.”

Head of Indonesia’s Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center Gede Suantika welcomed a idea, observant cinema of a void would assistance them improved analyse Mount Agung’s conditions.

“If they fly a worker from a protected area and strech a volcano’s crater, it would be good for us,” he told Channel NewsAsia. 

We can use a photographs or videos to analyse a change in colour of a steam during a summit. It’d be unequivocally useful for us.


Azhar’s seductiveness in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) began 7 years ago, when he was using a video prolongation association in Singapore. The businessman came conflicting an online essay about multirotors and started building one from scratch.

“I was like ‘I don’t know what this is though we wish it’. we wanted to make my camera fly. So by blood and sweat, we built my initial drone,” he told Channel NewsAsia inside his home office, that was full of UAVs of all sizes.

“Google and YouTube unequivocally helped me a lot.”

Azhar’s passion for drones has led him to many UAV enthusiasts and noted flights. Among them is an unmanned speed to a stratosphere – a covering of a earth’s atmosphere that extends 15km to 50km above a surface.

A sketch of a stratosphere prisoner by an unmanned aerial car as partial of the Menembus Langit mission. (Photo: Menembus Langit)

Last year, he led a goal called Menembus Langit (Pierce a Sky), a secretly saved devise involving UAV devotees, scientists and engineers who wished to pull a limit, upwards. 

The group successfully flew a 2.6kg worker to a stratosphere and set a top record of altitude any Indonesian-made UAV has ever made.

“We flew to a corner of space. The sky was dark,” Azhar pronounced with a grin as he showed us a still sketch of a stratosphere prisoner by a aircraft’s camera.

“When we fly in an airplane, we fly during about 30,000 feet to 40,000 feet. We were aiming during 100,000 feet – 3 times a tallness – even aloft than Concorde.”


Although Mata Agung is targeting a most reduce altitude, given a volcano’s tallness of only above 9,900 feet, a plea is only as genuine and exciting.

For many municipal volcano watchers, drifting a worker to a void is a fun plea that requires a group effort. Before a successful flight, however, there are a few issues to resolve.

A moody devise for Mata Agung’s aerial tour to Mount Agung’s crater. (Photo: Azhar T Pangesti)

During a exam flights, a cruising speed kept dropping after a aircraft strike a certain distance. This, according to Kadek, signals deficient battery energy – a biggest worry for his team.

So far, they have mislaid one worker due to technical issues. After several trials and errors, a group has concluded a aircraft will possibly need to stand in a turn transformation to a certain tallness before streamer to a extent or fly in an conflicting instruction from a towering and make a U-turn towards a crater.

“We wish all will run smoothly,” Kadek said, looking during dim clouds above a horizon.

The object is environment on Bali. Somewhere in a north, a biggest volcano lies watchful and prepared to roar.

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