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The Drone Debacle

2022-01-29 - 01
2022-01-29 - 02

January 29th - Drove back to Pawhuska Tallgrass Prairie Preserve to attempt a long-distance flight.


     Drone flying for distance. It was averaging about 22-24mph outbound. When I got it to about 2.5 miles, the drone warned me that it was low battery and was going into automatic RTH (Return To Home) mode. It should have gone almost 6 miles before that happened, but it was fighting a 12mph cross-wind the whole way. Almost immediately after it turned itself around, it informed me that it was fighting a strong head-wind and that I needed to take control of the drone manually (yikes!!). It also informed me that I needed to reduce my altitude (400ft) because I wasn't going to have enough battery to make it back.

     When I reduced my altitude to about 300ft I was only doing about 11mph. I started looking for a "safe" landing area (preferably one without buffalo nearby). Apparently I got turned around and when I picked a spot it was actually about 2 miles from where I thought I was coming in for a landing (I wanted to try to land near one of the dirt roads in the area). When I got the drone about 11ft from the ground, the controller told me it had lost contact with the drone.

      Not knowing what to do, I hightailed it towards where I thought I had been coming in for a landing. Adding to the confusion, at one point while I was driving, the controller said that it had reconnected with the drone and put it back into RTH mode and then disconnected again. I checked the cached videos on my cell phone (low res) and guessed about where the drone had been when I lost contact. Drove there, buffalo everywhere (I didn't remember seeing them in the video).

     Drove back and forth trying to find the "spot". Went to the web to find info about the controllers' "find your missing drone" option. The video starts and says they have to be connected to the drone so I didn't watch any more. Rechecked the cached videos and determined I was on the wrong road. Went to the other road and compared the view in the video with where I was standing. Marching back and forth through the fields trying to get the right perspective.

     Sun is going down and it's starting to get dark. I can hear coyotes yipping at the sunset. Just because I have absolutely no other option, I opened the "find your drone" option on the controller. Should have done that first. It showed me where I was standing and where the last signal from the drone was located. About 1/4 mile from where I was standing. Found the drone in a few minutes.

      About 3 hours driving back and forth and searching. 20 minutes using the system.

This is just a short video after I found the drone. The full video of the flight, with an ending showing the sunset after I put a new battery in the drone just to see if it still worked. Everything is A-OK.

5 miles in 30 seconds.

See the full video below

(about 17 minutes).

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