My Phantom Vision 2 was about 20 feet above the ground and coming in for a landing in “return home” mode Friday when it suddenly took off and headed north. It started to climb, then began circling as if it was going into toilet-bowl swirl mode, and then it nose dived behind a hill. About 30 minutes later I located what was left of my beloved Phantom — the shattered top and bottom shells and the landing gear — about 100 feet apart along the shoulder of U.S. Highway 101 near Emma Wood State Beach in Ventura County, California. The motors and camera were gone, although I spotted shredded propeller pieces along the side of the four southbound lanes. This is the story of my month as a Phantom Vision 2 owner and pilot. My Phantom, with red and blue stripes, worked fine out of the box. It flew where I directed it to, transmitted camera images to my iPhone, and otherwise performed well as I began using it to take train pictures along the scenic California coast. The first sign of trouble came about 10 days into it when my copter began flying erratically. It had a mind of its own and didn’t respond to command signals. Instead of going where I wanted it to, it climbed and circled like a toilet bowl. Somehow, I was able to regain control and brought it in for a landing. Its first rough touchdown. I re-calibrated the compass, making sure I didn’t have anything metal in my pockets, and tried flying again. Everything seemed OK. But then a few days later I had another flyaway, this time it went higher and out of my sight. It didn’t respond to control signals. I thought for sure it had crashed, but I noticed it was still sending aerial pictures to my phone, so it was still in the air. I shut down my flight controller and it went into return home mode. It worked as advertised and a few minutes later my Phantom landed right next to me, where its journey began. But I was starting to lose confidence in my bird. I flew every day in the next week with no significant flyaways. But now I was having problems with the wi-fi signal. For no apparent reason, the picture transmitted to the Phantom app on my iPhone would go dark, showing just a black screen. This began happening with some regularity and the only way to get the picture back was to bring the bird to the ground and turn it off and then on again. Now I was really starting to lose confidence in my bird. I have taken dozens of great pictures with my Phantom, and I was excited on Friday to get a couple of trains running south along the ocean just before sunset. I went out to the Pacific Coast Highway just north of Emma Wood State Beach and started with a quick test flight. It went well and I returned to the ground to wait for the train to approach. A few minutes later the train approached so I took flight, went out over the ocean and snapped a few pictures. Then I tried to bring my bird in for a landing, but it took off south, climbed and began circling over the ocean. I tried moving the levers on my controller, but my bird wasn’t responding. Then, the app displayed the message that the control signal was lost. I turned my controller off and I got the message that my bird was returning home. This was the third time I had gone into return home mode. The first two times it returned home flawlessly, so I was hopeful it would again. As it was coming in for a landing it suddenly took off without warning, went north, started circling and then nose dived to earth. It went down behind a hill, so I didn’t see the crash, but I knew it was near Highway 101. I checked the northbound lanes first. Seeing nothing, I circled back and checked the southbound lanes. After spending about 20 minutes in the weeds, I gave up. As I was driving away, I came across the smashed top shell and one landing gear nearby. About 100 feet further south I found the bottom of the shell, with the other landing gear still attached. There was no sign of the camera or the memory card with the last image my beloved Phantom captured. I don’t really know what went wrong, but I don’t think it was pilot error. I calibrated my compass, flew only after I had at least 8 GPS satellite connections, and the indicator lights said I was in GPS mode. It wasn’t especially windy. I didn’t try to fly more than 200 feet from where I was standing. And I don’t understand why, when my bird was in return home mode, that it instead took off with a mind of its own. One thing is certain. My DJI Phantom Vision 2 did not perform as advertised.