PETALUMA (CBS SF) – Petaluma police were working to track down the owner of a camera lens that apparently fell from the sky earlier this month, damaging a local family’s home.

Debbie Payne, 55, said she found the approximately two-pound, 9-inch Canon camera lens outside of her home on Friday, Sept. 2, after hearing a loud crash that shook the two-story house, left a hole in her roof and sliced through two window screens.

She said the noise was loud enough to startle her next-door neighbor, who quickly spotted a piece of the camera lens next to a truck parked in his driveway.

After reviewing Payne’s mailed-in police report on Wednesday, officers are now tracking the lens’ serial number and working with the Petaluma Airport and the Federal Aviation Administration to determine whether the part may have fallen from a plane.

Payne said she didn’t see any aircraft near her home at the time of the incident.

The longtime Petaluma resident said she hopes to recoup the $1,000 insurance deductible she paid to fix the damage to her roof and screens, which contractors estimated would cost about $4,500 to repair.

But mostly, Payne said, she’s grateful the lens didn’t cause further harm—especially since she lives about 200 feet from an elementary school.

“It would have killed someone, had there been someone underneath the lens,” she said.

A hole caused by a falling camera lens in the roof of a home in Petaluma. (Bay City News)

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said that while he’s never heard of a camera lens falling from an aircraft, objects such as plane parts and ice chunks do sometimes fall during flights, though rarely.

“This is an unusual occurrence—even proving this came from an aircraft could be difficult,” he said.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (157)
  1. Dana says:

    The Payne Show, LOL

  2. Jeb says:

    Good one Dana….playing off The Truman Show…for those who didn’t get it. 🙂

  3. Mike says:

    Anyone else thinking of the Truman Show?

  4. Andrew says:

    Probably a local hobbyist tooling around with his Hexacopter – not realizing his camera’s lens wasn’t firmly attached. Putz.

  5. Will Ellingham says:

    There is a good deal of hot-air balloon activity in that area…I would suspect that or that it dropped from the vest of a skydiver…

    1. Bunsen Honeydew says:

      True. Sky divers often carry extra lenses, flash cards, and batteries for their SLR/DSLR cameras for mid flight change. Sometimes a 28mm doesn’t cut it and you might need to throw the 10-22mm on there. Plus if you hit bugs on the way down you may need to clean your lens mid flight. I’m guessing that’s what happened.

      Sheesh people…

      1. Davina says:

        None of what you said here is true. There is no time in a jump to carry out these sorts of changes, and the wind speed would make it impossible to do so anyway. Plus, hitting insects on the way down is virtually never a problem since insects aren’t found at altitude. If this lens fell from a skydiver’s camera, it fell simply because it was poorly attached before leaving the plane. You are an idiot.

      2. Josh says:

        Davnia…sadly, sarcasm is lost on you…

      3. Ted says:

        [sarcasm on] I hope sure hope no one takes your comments seriously Dr. Honeydew. They might think your an idiot. [sarcasm off]

  6. Walter says:

    “This is an unusual occurrence—even proving this came from an aircraft could be difficult,” he said.——Well where does he think it came from, a UFO?

    1. Yirmin Snipe says:

      Actually we know it came from something flying overhead… and since the something is unidentified… well the fact is, it came from a UFO (unidentified flying object), somebody call Scully and Mulder.

      1. Jim says:

        It was identified as a 9 inch Canon camera lens. Still yet to be determined is how it made its travel.

      2. Bunsen Honeydew says:

        Camera lenses are classified by their focal lengths, measured in MMs…not inches. That effectively describes about 10 lenses.

      3. James Stemple Senior says:

        Well they have the serial number from it and well that pretty much effectively describes everything about it except its mode of travel.

    2. Ellis Vener says:

      “Camera lenses are classified by their focal lengths, measured in MMs…not inches. That effectively describes about 10 lenses.”

      Seems pretty clear to me the article is referring to the physical size of the lens, not its focal length.
      And really serious aerial photographers use Leica S2 cameras.

      1. Brent says:

        Hope the Leica S2 comment was sarcasm….

    3. Booger McCoy says:

      WELL!?! Not all aliens love Nikon lenses, you know.

  7. George says:

    Doesn’t look $4500.00 worth of damage I think someone is padding the bill to scam the insurance company. I am a contractor and based on the damage i see maybe 500 to a thousand in damage. 3 to 4 hours work two guys and $100.00 materials.

    1. Bill Duke says:

      Exactly. No way that is $4500 in damage

    2. Truth Detector says:

      Ah, but you’re not a “contactor [sic]” as referenced in the story.

    3. Tony says:

      This is California, She most of the cost will be for environmental impact studies the repairs may cause and taxes.

    4. JC says:

      Engineering inspection 700.00
      Plans 500.00
      OSHA ladder permit 200.00
      asbestos permit for testing the shingles 600.00
      Abatement of the roof shingles 600.00
      Building permit review fees 400.00
      Building permit 400.00
      Demolition permit 300.00
      Barricade work-site per OSHA standards 400.00
      Scaffolding permit per OSHA 300.00
      Actual Demolition 100.00
      Repair wood 200.00
      Roofing permit 300.00
      Repair roof 120.00
      New screens 75.00
      Paint 120.00
      California workers comp for project 650.00
      Liability insurance when the lawyers start fantasy suing 300.00
      Clean up 50.00
      Final inspection fee 250.00
      Contractors 20% Profit and Overhead 800.00

      She got a great deal, It should have cost her 6800.00 plus…..Someone must be cheating the system,, Send an Investigator in !!!!!

      1. Diraphe says:

        Funny how most of the overhead comes from all the permits needed for such a simple repair. What else can you expect when the government sticks its nose into everything and feels the need to put regulations on every little thing; and we wonder why businesses are hesitant to hire new employees?

      2. Bunsen Honeydew says:

        While you were busy being funny, you “conveniently” left out any applicable environmental impact fees, which should be upwards of $7900.

        I think your comment qualifies needing to be reported to for President Re-elect Obama.


      3. Alburt Hendrix says:

        Turn it in to!

      4. alansanmateo says:

        you people really have no freakin idea what you are talking about, do you?

        You really have to wonder why someone would take this much time to post something that bashes the government.

        Weirdos are among us, tha’ts for certain.

        Imagine how great the internet would be if ignorant people couldn’t post? I need to find myself some websites that keep the dopes out. If only new sites would do this. NYTimes does, and the discussions there are 10,000 X more valuable that what you get on sites like this. I know it costs $$ to monitor and moderate the posts, but it sure does make the experience better.

      5. david says:

        Having the NY times filter your news for poitical correctness could leave you uninformed.

      6. dale blank says:

        TOO TRUE
        that is why i left CA in 96

      7. Betty says:

        Let’s not forget a Bog Turtle Environmental study for the next two years. Because we are disturbing the landscape with the OSHA ladder.

      8. VrwCHENEY says:

        Does Allen jive under a rock? Brain dead moron…where have you been???

      9. wal says:

        JC,You don’t need an engineer or plans to fix a fist sized hole in the roof. Your highly inflated estimate is pure bunk and you know it. You would lead us to believe that all contractors are thieves with that lame justification.
        Shame on you.

      10. Timothy James says:

        Pull the stick out and get over yourself! Seriously, this is just a bunch of people having fun with a freak accident! This thread has produced some great laughs.

      11. Spencer Hart says:

        You forgot to add in the potential lead paint testing and abatement cost.

    5. MB says:

      Bunch of freaking idiots posting today…
      yeah its the “Liberals” fault and yeah Its “Obamas” fault….
      sheeesh people, get a clue, get a job and get a LIFE

      1. Fashionable Foil says:

        Sheeesh MB that sounds like an aweful lot to get… maybe you could just get a sense of humor instead. lol

      2. Chicago Nick says:

        Or perhaps he too should ‘get a job’, ….. since he assumes everyone posting here doesn’t have one, he must not either… 😉 Hope and Change

      3. caligula says:

        get a sense of humor d i p s h i t.

    6. bd maus says:

      Yea, that is a good estimate. LOL $#4500!

    7. Rob says:

      My thought exactly. If that’s $4500 in damages, then I understand why house prices are so high in California.

  8. Jody Cortes says:

    Got to know.. what BRAND was the lens.. Nikon or Canon.. yes it matters.

    1. Chris Trainor says:

      Read the article… clearly states Canon in the 2nd paragraph.

    2. ProofReader says:

      “Debbie Payne, 55, said she found the approximately two-pound, 9-inch Canon camera lens outside of her home on Friday, Sept. 2”

  9. john says:

    Obviously a Canon lens. A Nikon lens would have survived……

    1. Ace says:

      Really mess with her head… try again with a Nikon. Poor old woman wouldn’t know WHAT to think.

    2. eyesky says:

      The pros all use Canon duties. NIKON is for amateurs like yourself.

      I’m an aerial photographer and on occasion I change lenses in flight. One slip and…oops.

      1. F-stop66 says:

        Nikon shooters don’t need to change lenses in flight. I do aerial photography professionally and I use a NIKON.

      2. 7hitman says:

        you are an amateur

      3. Timothy James says:

        Seriously? You believe all Pros use Canon? I have been a working professional for nearly 25 years and I shoot Nikon. I belong to a few professional organizations and the Nikon vs. Canon users is split just about 50/40 with more users using Canon. The other 10% use other systems such as Sony.
        A real professional uses the system that works for them.

  10. Truth Detector says:

    “The longtime Petaluma resident said she hopes to recoup the $1,000 insurance deductible she paid to fix the damage to her roof and screens, which contactors [sic] estimated would cost about $4,500 to repair.”

    Well, that’s the problem. She should have contractors, not contactors, do this job for less.

  11. Truth Detector says:

    So Chicken LIttle was right?

    1. Timothy James says:

      Can you imagine? But then again, that was an Apple, not a PC.

  12. Nude at Fisherman's Wharf says:

    Never saw that coming.

  13. Government Estimator says:

    I’d have given her a $45,000 estimate. But that’s just me.

  14. James says:

    $4,500 in damage! Looks more like $450 damage to me. You can replace the entire roof for $4,500. Looks like the homeowners are getting taken.

    1. Rick G says:

      Maybe she is replacing the entire roof. Can’t have a roof made of material that camera lenses can fall through. The next camera lens that drops through her roof might kill somebody.

      Besides, she has been traumatized. That is worth a lot, according to Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

      I am thinking about getting a new roof myself because of this. I can’t sleep at night worrying about camera lenses falling through my ceiling and killing me.

  15. Cincinnatus says:

    Wow – $4500 for that repair? This lady is getting seriously ripped off here. That should cost a $1000 tops.

  16. sitonmeshamrock says:

    No wonder someone tossed it out of a plane. It’s a piece of junk!

  17. justus says:

    Oh my 4,500.00 with 1000 de for that little hole. This poor lady got ripped twice in one day. Finding the owner of this lens is like thinking the unemployment rate going to 6% by the year 2016.

  18. DavosSherman says:

    $4,500.00. You have gotta be effing kidding me!

  19. RufusVonDufus says:

    I’d have to see what she looks like before determining how much the estimate would be. Could be as little as zero, who know.

  20. RufusVonDufus says:

    “who knows,” not who know!

  21. Doug says:

    Could it have been shot upward out of a compressed air cannon; potato/pumpkin cannon like on TV

    1. Bruce W. says:

      Well, it was a Canon lens, after all… seems plausible to me.

  22. RufusVonDufus says:

    I know a guy what could fix that hole with a piece of tin, four roofing nails and a little can of roof cement. Materials, $2.98; labor $4,497.02

    1. alansanmateo says:

      and THIS is why permits should be required for such small jobs

      1. Rupert Pupkin says:

        Why Alan? The solution indicated above is effective and practical (except the labor fee 😉

        So I ask again, why Alan? No need to reply Alan, I’ll answer for you. It’s because it doesn’t fit in to your statist, government nanny state world view that people do not require government interference into every minute aspect of their lives.

      2. Steve says:

        Alan, Alan, Alan, have you no sense of humor?!
        On a more serious note, what would your permit accomplish? Are you suggesting it would prevent the cheap fix, or would regulate the profit?

      3. rador says:

        Alan, I’ve seen your comments and you appear to be partisan to the point of being irrational. The humor directed at the estimate is warranted because people know that regulation and confiscatory policies pass costs to the consumer. And American’s are well aware that California is mired in both regulation and taxation. 4,500 for this work IS suspect and should probably have been itemized for the readers. I’ll bet is not far off from the estimate above.

  23. gringo says:

    Could it have come from a government spy satellite. Has Ms. Payne said anything bad about Obama lately ??

  24. Bush's Fault~!!!!! says:

    when I was flying with O-Bama on his majik carpet- I accidently dropped my camera- opps~!
    at least now I can ride my bike over and claim it-
    sorry lady-

  25. Eral says:

    So where was the Channel & helicopter???????

  26. Ray says:

    The cost of living in California. Permits, permits, permits. Environmental studies. Special roof material and so on. Also, the estimate came from a union contractor.

  27. jewfromhell says:

    A new way to take a “down skirt” or down bra pix?

  28. theseanman says:

    It was Bush’s fault!

  29. paleriders says:

    I think its pretty obvious where a 9 inch camera lens came from. High altitude surveillance airship. They have dozens of these UAV airships parked above almost every major city all over the US, just sit there in the stratosphere monitoring all communications etc watching and tracking you and everything you do. Just look it up. Google high altitude surveillance airship.

  30. SFCARE says:

    just send the bill to ED HARRIS! problem solved! (this guy still has GOD complex to work out!)

  31. 1608thepoet says:

    You experts don’t know how much internal damage was done. A clear case of constipation of the brain and diarrhea of the mouth.

  32. BankruptPhotographer says:

    “It was identified as a 9 inch Canon camera lens.” Actually if it’s an L-series lens it could cost more than the damage done to the house. LOL

  33. jidjfljf says:

    You are being watched.

  34. upthecreek says:

    probably the IRS snapping ariel pics of her house
    .. They are watching you lady

  35. Astralis says:

    I could have a brand new roof for less than she’s paying.

  36. Gary says:

    Is there a skydiving operation any where in the area? 99% of skydivers use
    Canon’s for still photography. The skydiver probably bumped his camera helmet on the airplane when he exited the plane.

  37. jason says:

    Chinese Spy satellite no doubt!

  38. Liberty NotSocialism says:

    objects such as plane parts and ice chunks do sometimes fall during flights, though rarely.

    Classic government stupidity, How many ice chunks fall from airplanes that miss homes and populations?

    But they say it’s rare.

  39. Jeffrey A Friedberg says:

    CNN’s Wolf Blitzer has just reported that the lens has now been traced by Canon to the ill-fated last flight of Amelia Erhart, some 60 years ago!!!!!

    1. Ted says:

      Wouldn’t that be sweet!

  40. Leslie Westbrook says:

    That lens looks like a Canon 16-35mm. I am a professional photographer, and that is one of the most common lenses that I and other Canon shooters use. I suspect that this fell from a helicopter (door open, fell out of camera bag or something similar) or a hot air balloon or a bi-plane. This probably would not have been attached to a commercial aircraft–especially on the outside. Also, this isn’t space junk. Space junk would have been at least partially burned from atmospheric re-entry. This is just an odd accident in my opinion–and a costly one for the photographer and the home owner (who, by the way, very well could have a legitimate $4,500 claim–we probably don’t have all of the damage photos here).

    1. Leslie Westbrook says:

      As mentioned in a couple other comments–the skydiver theory is very plausible.

    2. David Kiepke says:

      It says, hole in roof and 2 torn screens.

      Hole in roof = 1 piece of plywood, some roofing paper, and replacement tile or shingles.
      Average cost for constructing a roof in the U.S. = $10-$20/sqft, including labor. Assuming you remove 1 full 4ftx8ft plywood sheathing and replace with new material, its 32sqft. 32sqft x 20 = $640 times 2 for removal rather than just building = $1280. 2 torn screens = $100/screen.

      Use some common sense people. Geesh. 4500 is a lame-assed contractor hyping up the cost to profiteer off the insurance companies tendencies to pay virtually any and all claims these days. Its the Un-American way unfortunately that too many people engage in these days.

  41. MuellerMeghan says:

    Thanks, but i think is better this way

  42. jimjim says:

    Call Lucas. He’s the only guy I know in that area who does wierd things with cameras…… 🙂

  43. GB says:

    It came from an aircraft doing aerial mapping.

  44. David Kiepke says:

    Un Believable…$4500 for a softball-sized hole and 2 torn screens. ONLY in America, ONLY in the Bay area.
    Get a life! How LAME.

  45. SFCARE says:


  46. Mike Alright says:

    Don’t forget to sue for pain and suffering and the mental illness you have because you are an American.

  47. alansanmateo says:

    sorry to burst your wingnut bubble, but there’s no environmental review for a roof repair. I know it feels good to bash things you know nothing about, but it just makes you look dopey.

    – – –

    I think a sightseeing balloon or skydiver is most logical explanation. Will be interesting if they figure it out. Thank god it only hit a roof.

  48. Amy says:

    Maybe Tom Cruise dropped it on his way to his home planet.

  49. thetruthwillsetyoufree says:

    Nobody has stated the alternate scenario – the lady’s not getting ripped off; the lady and her “contractor” are in cahoots to rip off the insurance company.

  50. Buck Nasty says:

    A new fad is to attach a camera to a large helium weather balloon and to program the camera to take pics every few seconds. the pics are quite amazing; however, once must track down the balloon…usually a gps transceiver is used to track such a camera box/balloon down once it is out of reach. Follow-up with Canon to determine ownership of the camera…that is if the owner registered it.

  51. Aaron D DeCapua says:

    It didn’t fall, it was launched Look at the exit damage, to the right, where the left has no exit… it looks projected or launched much faster than 14 feet per second which is the constant rate at which things fall, however if they are thrown or launched at an angle much higher speed are attainable. someone shot that thing into the air, and it catapulted in the air and it settled at an angle in there roof. Someone probibly took a potato launcher and shot that thing into there house!

    1. ForgotYetAnotherUsername says:

      “14 feet per second which is the constant rate at which things fall”

      Err….whatnow?! 14 feet per second? Please tell me that’s a typo.

      14fps is approx 10mph (or 16 kph depending on your preference) and I can run faster than that!

      The terminal velocity was likely over 100mph (that’s 130fps). Skydivers freefall at over 120mph.

    2. A Scholar says:

      You must have been sleeping in physics class, or never woke up for it. Acceleration due to gravity is 9.8 m/s^2 and this is constant, but that constant acceleration does not mean that VELOCITY is constant, in fact it means it is constantly increasing. Given the weight of the lens it wouldn’t really need to have fallen from that high of an altitude to cause a good deal of damage.

  52. DaJoe says:

    This might be a good candidate for a time-space vortex incident.

  53. smokehouse56 says:

    Hey, I’ll fix that hole in the roof for half that price. $4,500 to repair that damage? She must be using Obama’s stimulus money.

  54. Yarlan Zey says:

    Well, at least she wasn’t hit and killed by a toilet seat from an orbiting space station. We don’t need another reaper.

  55. Timothy James says:

    Would love to see that detailed estimate that explains the $4,500. That just does not make sense at all. Even with the 2 screens they say were damages.

    Of course the referred to the lens by it’s physical size, that is something the average person who does not know about lenses will understand.

  56. stoptouchingthatmabel says:

    Now do you believe me when I said big brother is everywhere?

  57. Sean says:

    $4500 to repair? That a union estimate?

  58. Curious Observer says:

    Does this remind anyone else of The Truman Show?

  59. Kip Noxzema says:

    So you look at the RADAR for the area, at the time of the incident. Any idiot can figure that out. What’s so hard to understand to figure this out, FAA?

    But oh oh. We’re talking about the Regime and their buddies the State Run Media. The result of the investigation will be buried or never reported.

  60. Attack Watch says:

    Maybe it was Obama with a US Predator drone

  61. Chief says:

    Suni Williams is this one yours? She lost a camera while on a space walk in 2007 at the ISS… hust wondering 😀

  62. Jim Morrison says:

    It is generally accepted that liberals do this kind of stuff. The home owner apparently will need a stimulus package to overcome the pain and suffering of this damage. The Obama cae will kick in and charge her for having mentioned anything about it. It was probably someone on a hand glider taking pictures and whoops, I lost my lens.

  63. dad says:

    wait, rip off. 4500.00 my elbow.
    ladder 250.00
    board 2’x1″ 15.00
    one shingle.3.00
    small piece tar paper3.00
    nails a whole box 5.00
    a whole days labor100.00 and thats alot.
    total 376.00 someone is getting totally ripped off, who said mexican labor cheap.

  64. dad says:

    lady you can fly me out there from ohio buy all the tools i’ll need to fix this and then you’ll own the tools feed me put me up for three days and fly me home for less than that cost.

  65. Snaggletooth Butterhips says:

    It’s Bush’s Fault

  66. Eman Gregory says:

    could be lens from satellite that crashed through so cal

  67. freecheese says:

    There is something called “home owners insurance,” but noooooo. The police are going to spend thouands of dollars of resources to track this person down ! How stupid, and a waste of taxpayer dollars.
    I doubt somebody in a hot air baloon was hanging over the side of the gondola looking for an “ideal target” house to throw a $1,000. canera at.
    This could only happen in Goofy Kollifornia !

  68. Bob H. says:

    $4500 to fix a hole in the roof and two screens? Sounds like the real story is about insurance incompetence.

  69. caligula says:

    it was a camera from Attaaaaack Waaaaaatch. This woman must have something against the Obama administration, so they sent a drone over her house to take photos.

    big brother is watching you.

  70. bili says:

    Next, they’ll sue the lens manufacturer for making an illegal weapon. Then they’ll sue the delivery companies and the sellers and resellers for trafficking it. $4,500? BAH! Don’t take us Californians for granted – let’s make it $45,000,000,000 – now, that’s more like it! Re-Elect Comrade Obama!

  71. AJ Buttacavoli says:

    High jinx from space or space junk whichever works.

  72. 11 11 says:

    the eye in the sky

  73. Expertskier says:

    Stupidest story I’ve ever read …. and I lived in the Bay Area for 16 years … soooo happy I moved to Arizona in ’98 …

  74. Fashionable Foil says:

    So does this mean Big Bro isn’t watching us from his satellite anymore?

  75. Sal says:

    Blame it on the Federal Reserve. Helicopter Ben’s action of tossing dollars out onto the landscape has failed. Now he has turned to camera lenses.

  76. George says:

    Maybe this is a Obummer stimulus program ?? he has told he’s people to go out and buy expensive lens, rent planes, through the lens out the plane make sure you hit wood roofs and wahla you start the economic engine running. I wonder if this is his payback for the roofers union vote?

  77. Chicago Nick says:

    That’s what you call ‘an eye in the sky’ ladies and gents….. 😉

  78. rador says:

    The lense belongs to the contractor.

  79. rador says:

    EBAY Ad: Slightly used Cannon Lens. Could also be used as a paper weight. Starting Bid: 4,500.00

    1. Too funny says:

      Your comment…..priceless! LOL

  80. Sourpuss says:

    Unmanned drone spying on Americans–Oops!!

  81. says:

    Sam Chui !!!!!!!

  82. Richard Fitzgerald says:

    Could this lens be a remnant of the old Gemini missin that lost a camera?
    NASA may or not know, but worth asking.
    Camera was a Hasselblat, withextra film pack back, batteries, and body and double lenses, which could have been part of the fireball also seen.

  83. Mark says:

    This proves it …. Aliens in UFOs DON’T prefer Nikon 🙂

  84. Iva Gotnowitz says:

    dude I think it fell off a satellite. You know, a spy satellite. Not the expensive military kind as they would not use an ordinary lens, but it’s more likely the consumer grade kind of spy satellite that requires someone to manually zoom the lens in and out, and change lenses while spacewalking, and occasionally drop one from orbit. you know, that kind of satellite.

  85. jimbob says:

    The cop is wrong about the terminal velocity and the reporter is stupid for quoting the innacurate information. No standards. No quality. That’s “journalism” today. All rights, no responsibility

  86. Don says:

    The rule for forming the possessive of a singular noun ending with the letter “s” is to add ‘s, so:
    lens’s — not lens’

  87. Ruben Leal says:

    In the video it clearly is a Canon IS L Lens and an EW-83H hood, from that I would say the lens was an EF 24-105 f/4L IS.

  88. Photog says:

    Well if the owner of the lens registered his lens with Canon, tracking him down should not be too hard.