How to Fly High with a Drone

Flying High with a Drone

I’m often asked, and I often see social media posts from new owners of drones asking how long it takes to get the courage to take a drone to the maximum height of 120 metres (400 feet) in the UK.  I’ll be honest and say that it took me about 4 months to take my old Phantom Vision 2+ up to that height approximately 7-8 years ago.

Flying High with a Drone

The Phantom Vision 2+ always seemed as though it was going to fall out of the sky at any moment.  It felt heavy and bulky by todays standards.  It took me a while to trust the technology before finally reaching the maximum height for a drone flight in the UK.  I think that it’s the technology that you need to trust rather than your flying skills.  With the DJI Mini 2, I was flying at maximum altitude on the first day I received it.  The light and agile nature of this drone gave me confidence straight away and I had no hesitation in climbing as high as the CAA drone rules allow.

Looking back now, I still ask myself why it took me so long to gain the confidence in flying at 120 metres with my old drone.  I still think it was just the thought of it crashing to the ground held me back.

What could go wrong?

There are a few things in my mind that could go wrong when flying as high as you are allowed.

  • Is the battery connected properly?  Did you make sure you inserted it correctly?  If the battery loses connection to the drone, there will be a power failure and it will come crashing to the ground.  No return to home mode is going to rescue you.
  • A bird strike.  You could be VERY unlucky and get attacked by a large bird of prey or worse, a seagull.  In my experience the higher I fly, the less I get pestered by birds.  I have never had a serious encounter with a bird in the sky, but I have seen plenty of seagulls and buzzards take a curious interest.  I find that simply pushing the drone higher (as long as you’re not already at maximum height) deters any bird coming close.
  • Software/hardware failure.  Yes, even though I trust the technology not to let me down, there is always the possibility of something going wrong in the brains of the drone or a propeller blade detaches. The latter is avoidable if you do a correct propeller checks before take off.
  • Last and by no means least, there is always the risk of pilot error.  Keeping VLOS on a small drone such as a the DJI Mini 2 is difficult at times.  Taking your eye off the drone for a few seconds can be enough for you to loss sight of it and panic.  My advise at this stage is always to stay calm, point the camera straight down at the ground and figure out where the drone is from that angle.

Conclusion

So to round things off, I would say that there is no rush to send your new drone to the maximum height.  Take your time to get used to the controls.  Gain confidence as a drone pilot and trust the technology to do what it is supposed to do.

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