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How to Find a Lost Drone

Losing a drone is one of the most painful things to happen to your UAV besides malfunctioning. If you happen to lose it, all is not lost. In fact, I am here to show you possible ways on how to find a lost drone. 

Disclaimer: These are not guaranteed to find your drone 100% but rather just advice based on research on experienced drone users who found ways to locate their lost drones.

Keep The Remote Control On

This is one of the most basic advice in case you lost your connection with your drone while you were still flying. This happens very commonly with drone pilots especially if they are testing with the drone’s maximum distance. As a result, receptions weaken and at some point, you lose your drone’s point of view. Should this ever happen, make sure that your controller is still activated. By default, you should just spam the Return or Home button in order for your drone to come back to you automatically.

The problem is that some drones would blindingly go straight to a tree or a wired fence that’s why it does not come back. As long as your remote control is still on, your drone should also be still active.

Screen Shot Before Your Drone Loses Power

Before we start, this tip is only applicable for drones with photography features. 

With that said, this one was based off on a guy who lost his DJI Phantom before but managed to find it again because he took screenshots with his Phantom’s camera before it crashed. The aerial footage and the familiar territories, buildings and terrain will help you determine how far your drone traveled and where it was last seen.

You should be able to find your drone within 100 to 400 feet away from you. If you want to be more certain about where your drone might be, you should consider bringing the area’s map with you and plot down possible locations if you are ever unfamiliar with the territory.

Drone Tracker App

DJI includes an app where you can easily locate your drone with its built-in tracking device. If you happen to own a DJI drone, I highly recommend getting the app as it helps a lot. But what if you don’t own a DJI? That’s alright, you can buy a separate tracker and app from any drone store. On average, it costs $80 but it is worth a lifetime. You have no idea how many drone lives have been saved thanks to trackers and GPS apps

If you own an expensive drone, do not hesitate on buying a tracker. You will never know when it will come in handy. 

Use Your Back-Up Drone to Find the Lost One

This goes out to the extreme drone hobbyists. There shouldn’t be much of a problem if you happen to have a spare drone. This is also a very effective way by experienced drone enthusiasts since the spare drone’s visuals will help you remember where your lost UAV traveled to before it crashed or shut down.

For the best chance, experienced drone pilots say you should do this at night. Your lost drone should be emitting lights (given that it still has battery). And if your spare drone happens to have night vision, the higher your chances of getting back on your lost UAV. 

Post Flyers Around Town

If you really cannot find your drone, you should act like you lost your pet and put up flyers that write something like “Have you seen this drone?” Of course, it could be embarrassing putting that up on poles and walls but desperate times call for desperate measures. Obviously, this means you will rest your chances on a good samaritan that will call you up and say they found it on a roof or dangled by wires.

Report to Police / Local Drone Flyer Clubs

If the flyers don’t help, maybe the authorities can. Fortunately, the police are viable when it comes to lost drones. In case your drone is missing, you should report to their building, file your name, drone model and number and send it to them. In case someone kind enough will bring it to the police, they will notify you immediately.

But if you are too shy to go to the police, there are are some volunteer workers that specialize in finding lost drones. What they do is collect crashed or stuck UAVs, find the bar code and scan whoever owns it. They should contact you but there is always the option to talk to them too.

Report to Police / Local Drone Flyer Clubs

This one is natural that’s why I put it in the last place. If you rely on photographic memory, you still have a chance of finding that lost drone. What did the terrain look like? What were the buildings it went across? How tall were the trees? If you are an observant, this should help you out.

Always Be Careful  

Drone prices are no joke and that’s why you will need to take care of it all the time. Make sure that the drone is always in your line of sight and never go beyond 400 feet in altitude. 

FAQs

Do all drones have an emergency signal when lost?

Not all drones do. Cheap ones (usually less than $100) are just for casual flying and do not need advanced sensors.

Should I call the police if I lost my drone?

If you really have no other choice, you may call the police. They also have a duty to find out where your drone may have been last seen. In some cases, they have it in their lost and found.

Does the code on my drone do anything useful?

Yes. In case you lose your drone and an authority finds it, they will be able to know who owns it and then contact you.

How do I find my drone at night?

If you can pinpoint where you drone last location was, you should be able to spot it with its blinking lights. They automatically light up when the drone knows it is stuck.

Do drones usually get lost?

Back in 2015 to 2016, there were a lot of drones getting lost. However, with latest technology, you can distinguish where your last drone was in.

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