Drones are a load of fun. However, you should take care when flying them. Many users have experienced “flyaways” where drones just go missing for a variety of reasons. Preventable errors are usually the culprit. That’s why we have devised some key tips to make sure you stay in touch with your favorite toy.

You are not alone if you have experienced a drone fly away. In fact, it’s estimated that 1 in 3 drone operators have had this happen to them.

1. Remember To Set And Update Your Drone’s Home Point

Not every drone has the ability to set a home point, but the more expensive ones do. This is one of the crucial first steps when setting up your drone. Most likely you will need to input the GPS location of your house. Of course, this process is different for every drone, so make sure you follow the instructions step-by-step. If you do end up moving home or are operating the drone at a friend’s house, don’t forget to update this point.

You also have the option of setting the drone’s home point as the location of the controller. This is useful if you are controlling it from a moving location, such as a boat or car. Just make sure you have a strong GPS connection.

2. Start Off By Practicing In Beginner Mode

Most drones have a beginner mode, which is great for those new to flying. This setting will automatically set limits on the altitude, distance, and speed. The chance of losing control of the drone will be minimal and will help develop the skills to prevent “flyaways” in the future. As you get more skilled, you can graduate to harder modes.

3. Be Wary Of Compass Interference

Drones don’t just rely on GPS. They also require a functioning and accurate compass to return home safely. Luckily, most drones have a monitoring system that reports compass interference. If you do start to experience a significant amount of inteference, then fly your drone out of that area and back the way it came. The prime culprit is magnetized iron and other metals, so try and stay away from bridges, towers, and buildings. Don’t takeoff from metal objects like the hood of your car as this can lead to big problems.

You will also find that power lines, cellphone towers, and other electronic sources can disrupt your drones systems. Play it safe by steering clear of them.

4. Set The Altitude Correctly

Most drone models have an effective obstacle avoidance system. However, you should still make sure to set the altitude correctly. You don’t want your favorite toy hitting a tree or hillside because then who knows if you will be able to retrieve it. A height of around 60 meters is ideal for many areas.

Remember obstacle avoidance technology is far from foolproof. Thin obstructions (such as tree branches) and reflective surfaces (such as glass and water) may not get properly recognized by the sensors. Low-light settings can also cause issues. Again, don’t neglect the altitude setting.

5. Keep An Eye On The Battery

First off, make sure you always monitor your drone’s battery life. The best drones on the market have a battery life of around 25-30 minutes. This isn’t that long, especially considering how time flies when you’re having fun. Make sure you know how long your model can stay in the sky, and don’t let the battery percentage hit the single digits, or you may find yourself in trouble.

6. Don’t Overdo The Distance

You may feel tempted to push your drone to the limits of its capabilities. However, this is a good way to lose it. The safest course of action is to always keep your drone within line of sight. This greatly lessens the chance of it crashing or getting lost. Not only that, it is the law in many locations. You will also find that the drone’s video feed has limitations. Objects to the drones side and rear are invisible, which increases the chance of a mishap.

You can set your drone’s maximum distance in the options setting. 500m or less is a sensible choice. Many drones can travel up to a few miles but just remember flying one at this distance is irresponsible, likely to be illegal, and a good way to lose your purchase.

7. Consider Regular Maintenance

All electronic systems develop issues over time. If something is amiss with your drone, then it could be the initial signs of a more serious problem. Take it to a professional so they can get everything functioning correctly. You should also schedule regular check-ups (around every six months or so). This includes the software to your drone. If you have a more expensive drone you will need to occasionally update the software to fix any bugs.

What to Do As a Fly Away is Happening

If you know you will be flying in an area with the high possibility of losing connection to your drone, then we recommend that you get a GPS tracker on your drone. A separate GPS tracker that has its own power source will allow you to find the drone with ease. People often can’t find their drone after crash landing so this will protect your investment.

Once a flyaway occurs there’s not much you can do to stop it except run after the drone to try to reestablish connection. We recommend pushing the return to home button as soon as possible and the emergency stop button if that doesn’t work.

If you have experienced a crash after a flyaway and you suspect it was a hardware or software problem, gather up all of the parts and take photos. You can send the drone to the manufacturer to get it evaluated.

DJI’s United States phone number is (818) 235-0789. They are open on weekdays 9:00 am – 5:00 pm PST. Press 3 for technical support to get connected with a representative. Browse the websites of other brands for their contact information and reach out. They will decide whether human error caused the accident and provide you with a new drone if not.

Always read the instruction manual to see what features your drone has. People surprisingly often crash their drones on the first flight because they are still trying to figure out what each button does. Don’t let this happen to you by spending 5 – 10 minutes to understand the basics.

Hopefully, you have heaps of fun with your drone, while avoiding annoying (and even emotional) “flyaways.” These tips should help you stay on the right track, so keep them in mind when flying.