The First Time I Lost A Drone

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Crashed and Lost

Losing my Drone

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The first time I lost a drone, I about killed myself looking for it and it ended up taking me over a month before I finally recovered the drone and had I been more experienced in the different methods of finding it, I could have located it within minutes or at least hours by just knowing what to do.

My story starts with me doing just about everything you could do wrong, and I hope it helps some of you not make the same mistakes.

The first thing that happened was my DJI drone would not allow me to take off because of my proximity to an airport and at that time I was not able to figure out how to fix that. I had a backup Bebop Pro drone so used that which had no such restriction. The problem started because somehow, I had installed one of the propellers backwards so when I tried to take off, the drone immediately spun out and crashed. After I figured it out and started the mission over, I was very stressed and embarrassed. In the world of aviation, it has been proved that almost all pilot errors start with one error, usually in bad judgement, that escalates or compounds the situation and leads to most pilot errors, and I believe this is very true for drone flying. Sometimes you must postpone and regroup which is what I should have done.

I took off and the area I needed to fly was behind a house with a cliff in the back, so I flew the drone over the roof and then dropped down out of my sight (Illegal!) and was relying on the drone’s camera to fly the area. Well, it only took a few minutes for me to fly the drone into a tree and crash the drone.

Super stressed at that point, I tried to scale the terrain and search where I thought the drone had crashed. I spent hours trying to find the drone in an area where I was grossly under dressed and over extended myself to the point of exhaustion.

After several hours and many cuts, bruises, and damage to my ego, I sucked it up and decided to accept my losses and was glad to do it since I was just happy to have gotten out alive. I am not over dramatizing this, I really thought I was going to have a heart attack!

Unfortunately, the site where I lost the drone was at an out of town job site that was about a 5 or 6 hour drive from my home. It turned out that we had to go back to the job site about a month later and while we were there, I decided to give it another try at finding the drone, this time better equipped. I searched again for several hours before giving up and was just packing up to leave and it finally hit me that I would try looking in the flight app, which had a record of the flight path the drone had taken. Again, at that time I was unaware of this. After viewing the drones flight path, it showed that I had been searching the wrong areas the entire time, and I started looking where the path showed it landed and within about 10 minutes, I located the drone over 1 month later! I could not believe how much time and aggravation this would have saved me, had I not just learned some basic stuff about my drone. It is also worth noting that at the time I was not yet licensed, and I firmly believe had I been, I would not have had most, if any of these issues.

I have not heard anybody’s stories that had as many errors as I committed on my first actual drone job flight, and I hope it helps others learn from my mistakes. At the very least I am sure it will make you feel better about your own pilot skills!

I am happy to report I have many more hours of experience since then, and even though I recovered the drone, it was never the same after that, and I ended up having to buy a new one anyway.

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