It was Ryan Deboodt’s third trip to the world’s largest cave — but it was his first time using a drone to document the scale of Hang Son Doong in Vietnam.
The massive cave, located in the remote Quang Binh province near the Laos border, was found by a local man in 1991 and only explored for the first time by a team of British and Vietnamese cavers in 2009.
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It’s more than 5 miles long with sections that are more than 650 feet high and nearly 500 feet wide in places.
“I find myself just in awe of the place the entire time I’m in there,” Deboodt told NBC News in an email message. “First is the sheer size of the place. Next it’s the formation of clouds at the dolines, or roof collapses, that then blow through the cave. It is incredible to just sit there and watch the clouds form and blow through.”
Armed with a DJI Phantom 2 drone with a GoPro attached, Deboodt wanted to capture something unique. “The advancements in the technology has been huge the past few years and they make it relatively easy to fly and to get great footage,” said the American, who has lived in Vietnam but is now based in Beijing.
Deboodt has been stunned by the worldwide reaction to his video, which he originally posted to Vimeo a week ago.
“The response has been absolutely unreal,” he said, as his footage from his January visit was shown around the world (and trended on Facebook for two days). “Never in my wildest dreams did I think this would become so big. I’m just deeply humbled that so many people enjoy the video and happy that I could bring such a unique natural wonder to so many people.”
— Seán Federico-O'Murchú