When used properly, technology sure can be a real boon for humanity. For instance, the Internet alone makes information more accessible than previous generations ever thought possible.

Drone technology has also allowed us to see places that we never thought we’d be able to go. While most drone footage results in breathtaking images around the world, other footage has revealed that the Earth can be a sad, destructive, and terrifying place.

The following images—which were taken by drones in forbidden locations all around the globe—definitely belong in the latter category. Take a look…

1. Syria: The Syrian Civil War has been absolutely devastating for those caught in the crossfire over the past several years. Here, a drone photographs Syrian tanks that have both caused and received a great deal of damage.

2-forbidden-drone-footageRussia Insider / Youtube

Although it was once Syria’s third-largest city, Homs was virtually destroyed after a bloody, four-year battle between the government and the opposition, which killed thousands of people over time and left the city in ruins.

3-forbidden-drone-footageRussia Insider / Youtube


2. Beijing, China: American expat Trey Ratcliff learned the hard way why Beijing’s imperial palace is known as “The Forbidden City.” It should be no surprise that flying over the headquarters of the Chinese government and its intelligence hubs is ill-advised.

4-forbidden-drone-footageTrey Ratcliff

Thankfully, Ratcliff was able to snap some aerial footage before his drone was caught and he was arrested by Chinese authorities. “Deciding to fly a drone over China is kind of like Luke Skywalker deciding to ride his land speeder on the Death Star,” Ratcliff said.

5-forbidden-drone-footageTrey Ratcliff

3. Pripyat, Ukraine: The fallout from the infamous 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster is evident to this day. Nuclear safety, quite understandably, became a large concern immediately following the events of the accident.

6-forbidden-drone-footageAshley Shepherd / Youtube

The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone’s Duga System was built to detect missile attacks with an early-warning radar network. It emitted such a strong signal that even radio users in the United States could hear its “clicks.” As such, it received the nickname “Russian Woodpecker.” It’s since been abandoned.

7-forbidden-drone-footageAshley Shepherd / Youtube


4. Kazantyp, Crimea: The Crimean Atomic Energy Station had been under construction since as early as 1976. Despite all of the time, energy, and money that went into it, geological instability caused the project to be abandoned.

8-forbidden-drone-footageRT / Youtube

The Crimean Atomic Energy Station was the site of the KaZantip electronic music festival (you might possibly know it better as “Reaktor”) from 1993 to 1999. An anonymous buyer purchased the location in 2005.

9-forbidden-drone-footageRT / Youtube

5. Ōkuma, Fukushima, Japan: The 9.0 magnitude earthquake that rattled Ōkuma in 2011 caused a chain reaction, triggering a tsunami that crushed the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

More than 150,000 people across the country and 11,515 residents of Ōkuma were forced to evacuate their homes due to the tsunami and subsequent nuclear meltdown.

10-forbidden-drone-footageNoguchi Katsuya / Youtube

After the nuclear meltdown, Ōkuma became a ghost town. It will likely take decades for the city to be inhabited again; thankfully, life has been somewhat restored in other parts of the Fukushima Prefecture.

11-forbidden-drone-footageNoguchi Katsuya / Youtube


6. Area 51, Nevada: A number of different tales—especially those concerning those infamous UFO sightings—have surrounded the U.S. Air Force base (dubbed “Area 51”) in Nevada since as far back as the 1950s.

12-forbidden-drone-footageHans Faulkner / Youtube

Soon after photographer Hans Faulkner snapped this drone footage in August 2015, “no drones” signs were promptly posted around the government-controlled region, making these images even rarer than ever before.

13-forbidden-drone-footageHans Faulkner / Youtube

7. Debaltsevo, Ukraine: When the Russian military annexed Crimea in 2014, it sparked an ongoing conflict between the Ukrainian military and pro-Russian forces. These images show the remains of an encirclement of tanks.

14-forbidden-drone-footageRuptly TV / Youtube

The area is now known as Debaltsevo Cauldron, a reference to the heated battle that took place between January and February of 2015. The drone footage was posted online the next year, but there are still remnants of tanks and other military vehicles spread out across the area.

15-forbidden-drone-footageRuptly TV / Youtube


8. Tar Heel, North Carolina: Drone footage guided by filmmaker Mark Devries revealed the terrible practices of a pig factory farm owned by the world’s biggest supplier of pork, Smithfield Foods.

Hidden in a remote part of North Carolina far from the public eye, this huge red lake is actually filled with urine and feces from thousands of pigs.

16-forbidden-drone-footageSpeciesismTheMovie / Youtube

Devries was horrified to find out that the factory farm operators were filling up an open crater of otherwise dry terrain by draining the pig waste into it. The makeshift “lake” was then emptied into nearby bodies of water, creating a health risk for the residents of the areas, many of whom have lower incomes.

17-forbidden-drone-footageSpeciesismTheMovie / Youtube

9. Tesla Tower, Russia: The Tesla Tower was a “lightning machine” from the Soviet period that generated so much electricity that it made an explorer’s hair stand on end. A 200-meter-long lightning bolt then hit just a few yards away, proving that after all that time, the facility is still active.

18-forbidden-drone-footageRT / Youtube

Once the Soviet Union met its demise, it was assumed that the tower had been abandoned, but that wasn’t exactly the case. Russian media correspondents were invited to a demonstration of how the tower measures lightning resistance on industrial metal parts. Each test releases the equivalent energy of 25,000 electricity sockets.

19-forbidden-drone-footageRT / Youtube


10. Spitsbergen, Norway: On an island roughly 650 miles from the North Pole, in the Arctic Svalbard archipelago, is a vault that can help assure the continuation of our species. Inside are 860,000 “backup” seed samples, just in case we lose our crops.

20-forbidden-drone-footageTerje Weiseth / Youtube

Drone footage reveals the vault’s remote location in all its glory. Designed in 2006 to keep out moisture, it’s supposed to be so barren that the facility will remain dry even in the event that the polar ice caps melt. Temperatures are kept at -18°C (about -.4°F)!

21-forbidden-drone-footageTerje Weiseth / Youtube

These discoveries may not have been possible if not for groundbreaking drone technology. Drones can sometimes get a bad rap, but these photos prove that they can have positive applications!

Share these incredible images with your friends below!