|“It’s actually very weird just showing up for a day of work at Notre Dame,” Tomas recalled. “Each time I enter the work site I need to strip off my street clothes in the locker room and don a hazmat suit and climbing helmet.” When he finished, “even my camera gear needed to be rinsed off in the shower!”
While the rope technician crews allowed him to access the exterior of the church, inside, large portions, including the nave and the crossing, remained completely off limits due to the risk of falling debris from the damaged ceiling vaults. The only access was via drone.
Flying a drone inside the fragile, 800-year-old cathedral, filled with so many precious masterpieces, is not for the faint of heart. With no GPS signal inside the cathedral, and the safety nets and scaffolding too dense to activate a drone’s obstacle avoidance sensors, Tomas (shown above) had to add a carbon-fiber cage around his entire drone.
Still, Tomas had absolutely no margin for error: “I tried to fly very slowly and smoothly, imagining that I was like a disembodied spirit drifting though the heights of the cathedral.” (Below, a side chapel that was spared the damage, farther down, of the spire that crashed down on the main altar.)