How I nearly crashed my drone into my family and friends

Yes you read that correctly. I very nearly had an accident with my drone last year that could have been pretty serious. Want to know how it happened? Of course you do…

Last summer, we headed off to Killarney, Co.Kerry for our annual group summer holiday. Being the nominated photographer of the group, my camera is always attached to my hand, in case of any opportunity that would prevent itself. This trip was slightly different with the addition of my new drone; I would be able to take amazing aerial shots of the beautiful scenery unobtainable any other way.

That day we had fantastic weather so we decided to head to the Beach. We arrived at Inch Beach, Co.Kerry and it immediately became clear that with such great scenery I should send the drone up.This was my first  week with the drone and was still becoming familiar with the remote  more technical settings.

I found a clear space overlooking the beach. Everyone had gathered in crowd around me, watching intently as I powered up the drone and hit the take-off button of my phone screen. Up the drone went and hovered for a short time, a few feet above the ground. All seemed good until a strong gust of wind blew the drone straight at my audience!

Only then did I realised that I’d taken off in the wrong mode. Without GPS to hold the drone in position as the wind blew it towards me. I quickly realised what was happening and powered the drone away from me and what may have been a fatal error! Once it was landed safely and heart rate back to regular, I realised I had been operating in Atti mode instead of GPS mode.

Here’s a quick little break down of the modes:

GPS Mode : uses GPS to mark the home point from where the drone takes off and will hold the drone in its current position in the sky (DISCLAIMER: unless high winds can overpower the drones motors)

Atti Mode : does not use GPS therefore the drone will not be held in place, it will drift if you don’t use the remote to steer and control it.

Also note that if you are using the DJI Phantom 3 Adv or Pro, or DJI 4 Adv or Pro you can activate the Vision Positioning System (VPS) in Atti and GPS mode. This is a small camera fixing the drone above objects it identifies on the ground. There is no reason to not have this activated, unless flying over moving or changing surfaces. The yuneec breeze has a similar system, whereby if the piloy lets go of the joystick the indoor positioning system (IPS) will hold the drone in place untill the pilot takes control again

While I ended up not being able to fly my drone that day; I did get to do some flying 😉

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