How to Find a Lost Drone

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Last updatedLast updated: June 25, 2021

A drone represents a significant investment and one of the worst experiences for any pilot is losing their drone. Even if you choose the best drones under 600 dollars, you want to avoid losing your money and this is more common than you might imagine. According to the GPS tracking company Trackimo Trusted Source Recent Drone Statistics and Facts Gathered in 2018 to 2019 So just how big has the drone industry become? Check out these intriguing drone statistics below, taken from data gathered in 2018 to 2019. trackimo.com around 30% of drone pilots have lost at least one drone that they never managed to recover. There are five common questions asked by drone pilots related to this issue, they are:

  1. How to find a lost drone without GPS tracking?
  2. How to find a lost drone with GPS tracking?
  3. How to find a drone with a dead battery?
  4. How to find a drone in a forest?
  5. How to find a drone that’s flown away?

If you do lose a drone, take heart, there may still be a way to recover it. A drone can be lost for a variety of reasons and we will explore some ways to find it again in this article.

Why you might lose your drone

How to Find a Lost Drone

Before we explore some recovery techniques that you may use to find a lost drone, it’s a good idea to look at four common ways that it can become lost in the first place:

1.   A Connection Loss

Even if you have the best mini GPS tracker, it’s still possible to lose a connection and then the drone. For some reason, this always seems to happen at the worst possible moment when you’re flying the drone over water, through a dense forest or up high on a mountain.

2.   A Loss of Power

It’s important to pay close attention to the battery when flying and have it fully charged before you take off. A loss of power due to a dead battery is one of the problems that can be avoided if you have a strict routine prior to each flight. Get into the habit of checking, charging and monitoring power levels and you can reduce the risk of a drone loss significantly. Many modern drones have a return to home function when the battery is running low. But, to make best use of this feature you need to fly the drone closer to make sure it can close the distance before the battery fully drains.

3.   A Hardware or Software Malfunction

Despite your precautions both hardware and software malfunctions can occur, but there are a rarity when it comes to losing a drone. In very rare cases, you hear about a drone simply failing and falling from the sky and this is so uncommon that you can’t really prepare yourself for that situation.

4.   Poor Flying Conditions

Flying a drone in poor weather should be avoided if you want to prevent your drone from becoming lost and/or damaged. High winds and rain can affect your drone and this is particularly true if you’re flying at higher altitudes where the weather can change quickly.
Many drones have built-in systems that prevent flying in bad weather, which is a great option for new pilots that are not used to judging flying conditions. If you’re flying some of the best drones under 250 grams in beginner mode they will not take off if the wind is too strong.

How to find a lost drone with a tracker

Hopefully, at this point you will already be thinking about investing in the best location and recovery system for drones that you can afford. A GPS tracker will help you to locate your drone with pinpoint accuracy in most areas. You will have a much improved chance of finding your drone intact when you use a tracker.

A good tracker can be purchased for around $80 and less expensive models use a SIM card to supply the user with coordinates to search for their drone. Other models use cellular communications that are synchronized with Google Maps which are more expensive to buy. But, those types of connections are very accurate and you get other helpful features for flight, speed, distance, altitude and more. The best trackers are waterproof to help you locate the drone if it goes down over the water.

How to find a lost drone without a tracker

If you want to learn how to find a lost drone without a tracker there are nine steps that you need to follow, they are:

Step 1: Find Out if the Drone is Airborne

Once you’ve realized that the drone is lost, you must find out if it’s still airborne or on the ground. Some drones are easier to see than others and if your model is louder you may hear it flying. If you have some visual and audio clues it’s likely that you have a flyaway situation to deal with. Keep calm and move in the direction of the drone, you may be able to regain control and it may come down in the nearby area. If you have a friend with you that’s flying a drone, they may be able to help you locate and recover it.

Step 2: Retain a Remote Connection

If the drone appears to be lost, it’s important to maintain a remote connection even if you believe that your drone has lost power. The remote is a handy tool when it comes to tracking down a lost drone and you need to keep it turned on. If the drone still has power and it’s flying a remote disconnection could cause it to crash. Always keep the remote active to keep the propellers moving and keep the drone airborne to help you locate it.

Step 3: Visit the Last Known Location

The more expensive drones are often fitted with on-board GPS technology. This is useful because you will know the last known location of your drone. But, if you don’t have this type of system it’s a good idea to invest in a GPS tracker. In fact, if you want some redundancy you could have both GPS systems to help you find your drone quickly.

Step 4: Get Some Help

Many people fly their drones with family and friends and other drone pilots are often keen to help a fellow enthusiast. If you were flying your drone in an open area before it became lost, it may be easy to spot it from the air with another drone. If your drone was lost in a forested or mountain area more sets of eyes are helpful.

Step 5: Stay Organized

When you’re searching an area it’s easy to become confused and search the same area multiple times. Work in a methodical manner, print a map of the area, organize it into grids and search each grid area. Keep track of where you searched and you won’t replicate a search unless you want to double check an area later. Don’t forget to search high and low for your drone because it could be lodged in a tree over your head.

Step 6: Look at the Flight Logs

Many drones have flight logs that you can check to see where your drone flew before it became lost. This feature is usually accompanied with a map for easy reference with an endpoint where the flight terminated. In most cases, this will be where the drone is located either on the ground or in a nearby tree or shrub. If the drone isn’t there, ask some people in the area, somebody may have seen it or picked it up.

Step 7: Check the Local Community

Putting up physical flyers or posting in an online community group for the area where you lost the drone may yield results. Social media is really useful for this type of activity and you can even offer a reward as an incentive for a return.

Step 8: Investigate Online Marketplaces

An unscrupulous person may have found your drone and decided to sell it online for a quick profit. So, make sure to check online marketplaces such as Craigslist and Ebay to see if your drone has turned up there. It’s a good idea to make a note of the serial number of your drone for this kind of eventuality. If you find your drone, speak to the seller and explain the situation and you may find that you can arrange a return without involving the police.

Step 9: File a Police Report

If you’ve explored every other avenue to find your drone without success, it’s time to file a police report. Supply the police with the drone serial number and it may turn up later if someone finds it and hands it in. A police report is usually required if you make an insurance claim on an expensive unit such as a drone for roof inspections or some other type of business-related activity.

How to prevent losing a drone

How to Find a Lost Drone

The best way to avoid asking a question such as “how to find a lost sky viper drone?” or any other model is to be proactive. Like many other aspects of life, prevention is better than the cure and you can protect your investment by making it harder to lose your drone. As we mentioned earlier, many drones have a return to home function and this may be a feature that you want when you choose your next drone. When it comes to flyaways these are often caused by pilot error, you can prevent many flyaways by following these five steps:

Step 1: Set a Home Point

If you want to make sure that your drone can return home you need to establish a home point before you even takeoff. This is a common error that has cost many pilots a lost drone and it’s easy to avoid. Make sure you have at least four GPS signal bars, set the home point when prompted in the control app and you will see a home point icon appear.

Step 2: Be Aware of Compass Interference

The drone can return to you safely with a good GPS signal but the compass must be working correctly to make the most of the technology. Most drones have a compass that should be kept clean from various types of interference to determine the location and orientation. If you have the return to home point set, the drone may return to that point safely, but if it isn’t clear about the orientation it may fly to the wrong location.

The best control apps will warn you when the compass interference in the area is too high. Some of the newer drone models have redundant compasses to provide some backup.
However, if one or both of these compasses goes into the red it’s advisable to fly in a different area or recalibrate the system.

Step 3: Maintain Line of Sight

When you maintain a clear line of sight with your drone it’s less likely that you will lose it. This may seem basic, but flying a drone out of sight is one of the easiest ways to lose any type of UAV. Even the FAA has rules on operating UAVs, which state that drones should be flown within the sight of the pilot. If you’ve ever flown a drone relying on the built-in camera to supply a video feed, you’re making a mistake that could cost you your drone. When you monitor a live feed, you can’t see what is happening around the drone and many flyaway situations are caused due not seeing where the drone is located.

Step 4: Reset the Home Point

If you have a strong GPS signal your home point will always be set when you takeoff and fly your drone. But, the home point isn’t reset automatically if you’re moving to a fresh location. So, if you want to fly your drone from a car or boat or a new area you will need to reset the homepoint.

Step 5: Setting a Return to Home Altitude

Some modern drones have installation systems that allow the drone to navigate obstacles safely when they follow a return to home protocol. But, older drones may lack this functionality and this can cause collisions leading to drone loss. To make the return to home function safer it’s a good idea to set a return to home altitude which won’t cause a collision with a tree or overhead power line. This is a good habit to adopt because the obstacle avoiding sensors on your drone may not work well over water and shining surfaces in low light conditions.

Final thoughts

Many drone pilots wonder how to find a lost propel drone and it’s a common source of concern in the community. If you lose a drone it can be upsetting, it’s a loss of a considerable investment and if you use it for business it can cause unwanted downtime. As you can see from our article, it can be a hard and time-consuming process to locate and recover your drone. Hopefully we’ve shown that prevention is the best course of action and it makes good sense to invest in a GPS tracker. When you consider the cost of a drone a GPS tracking system starts to look like a bargain. It’s also a great idea to always fly your drone in a responsible manner and take precautions to protect your UAV. Flying a drone in bad weather is too risky and you need to reset your return to home point if you’re flying the drone in a new area. The best way to avoid the how to find a lost drone question entirely is to keep your drone in sight at all times when flying.

References

1.
Recent Drone Statistics and Facts Gathered in 2018 to 2019
So just how big has the drone industry become? Check out these intriguing drone statistics below, taken from data gathered in 2018 to 2019.
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