High Altitude Drone Operations - Safety Tips

Drone manufacturers have made drone pilots’ jobs much easier in recent years. You can now get your batteries, props, camera, and drone all from one manufacturer, which greatly reduces the chance of any mishaps or any failures in the drone.

Operating your drone at higher altitudes still presents some unique challenges. As you can imagine, the drone’s capabilities with respect to lift and maneuverability are greatly diminished. High altitude conditions also change rapidly, are home to some of mother nature’s fiercest winds, and are constantly creating cumulonimbus clouds – a big red flag to drone operators. So here are some tips on how to be at your best when flying your drone at high altitude.

Preparing to launch your drone at lower altitudes is something you may not worry about a lot of you are always flying in relatively flat areas. However, when up in the high country, available take off and safe landing areas are much smaller. Often times you’ll be launching on a small roadside with a big drop-off, or even hand launching.

The biggest thing to consider when launching is to ensure you have a safe path home with respect to trees, cliffsides, and most importantly the wind. Always start your drone operations by flying upwind, which is typically going to be up valley in the afternoon and down valley in the mornings if flying in the summer months. This ensures that you will be flying downwind back to your point of origin.

Also, make sure to have put on high altitude props. This may not seem required, but it greatly increases the ability of the drone to manage power output, and to maintain a safe flight. The reduction in lift is greatly noticed when you go above 9,000 feet, and stability when in a hover position is very difficult. Use those high altitude props – DJI makes them for a reason.

Another good thing to consider when flying your drone at altitude is the duration of flight. You need to know that you will only get about 60% flight time at 9,000 feet on most drones like DJI and Parrot as opposed to flying at sea level. So, if you are tracking a car, snowmobile, or skiier across a valley, you need to take special precautions to takeoff and land in close proximity to enable yourself to safely land when your battery is running low.

Finally, temperatures can do crazy things to your battery life. On the DJI Inspire 2, fortunately for those owners, the batteries can be warmed while in flight. However, that doesn’t do much when the drone is just sitting on the ground during setup. Make sure you car is always nearby, and make sure those batteries stay warm at all times, or you may be in for an unpleasant surprise.

Hireuavpro.com has been operating drones up to 14,000 feet for years, and are professionals at how to professionally and safely operate while still capturing the required shots and delivering the data to our clients. We look forward to working with you.

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