Most of us may know that there is not always going to be a perfect day to fly. A lot of the time, Mother Nature and her elements play a big role in flying our drones, whether it be for work or for personal use. Due to all the troubles I’ve had in the past few years, I will share a few tips on flying in different weather conditions.
1. Flying a Drone in Rain and Wet Weather
Rain is the type of weather that I usually get really down about. Drones aren’t waterproof and you don’t want to be getting something like that soaking wet when it is in the air. That is something that just seems dangerous if anything goes wrong and chances of your drone breaking are pretty high.
I had an instance last year where I was flying at a lake after it had just stopped raining. I was flying an Inspire 2 with the X5S hovering over a lake 2400 ft away during a downpour. I was getting soaked where I was standing and I got worried about my drone not being able to make it back safely. I popped the drone into Sport mode and immediately flew it back to me. The rain was still coming down pretty hard, but I managed to land it safely, dry it off and put it away. This is something I don’t ever want to happen again and I really do consider myself lucky.
I learned a thing or two from flying in this little storm, including paying more attention to the weather. Always check the forecast before you fly, look at the radar, and make sure you aren’t going to have any problems beforehand. My best tip for when it is wet outside is to bring a towel to dry off the drone and try to wait and be sure it is done raining before you start flying.
2. Flying a Drone in the Snow
Flying in the snow seems to be a little bit safer than flying in the rain, but not by much. Snow tends to be a little lighter than rain and I’ve noticed when flying in light snow that my drone doesn’t even tend to get that wet. Regardless, it is always a better bet to wait for the snow to stop before taking off.
Taking off and landing on snow-covered ground is also another task in itself. Be sure to clear a space so that the camera doesn’t sit in the snow during takeoff or landing. Most importantly, if you are driving somewhere to fly, be safe on the roads. A photo is a lot less important than your life; you can always get a new drone, after all.
3. Flying a Drone in the Heat and Cold
Flying in the heat never seems like too bad of a thing but we do have to realize that technology can overheat. When flying in hot weather, be sure to give the drone a break or put it in the shade when you are not using it so it doesn’t get too hot. I haven’t had many instances where I am flying in extreme heat, but I do always take care of my equipment and store it properly.
When flying in the cold, it is all a prepping game. Before flying too far away, the drone should have a little time to warm up and get the batteries to the right temperature. A few weeks ago I was up in Vermont flying my Mavic and it was very important that I took a few safety precautions before flying so that nothing went wrong in the air. I would leave the drone in the car with the heat on so that all the batteries were already warm. When I took off, I would let the drone hover for about five minutes and do small movements to make sure it was flying okay before sending it off. I have to say that even in freezing conditions, this little Mavic held up really well and I got some awesome shots from it.
Temperature also plays a big part in storage. you don’t want your batteries or drone to reach extreme temperatures. They can handle those conditions for some time, but when you are done using them, bring them inside to a place they are safe from extreme conditions. It wouldn’t be a good idea to leave my drones outside, where it’s -10 or 100 degrees. Always take care of your drone so that they don’t have unnecessary problems.
4. Flying a Drone in Clouds and Fog
Clouds and fog may seem safe to fly in, but trust me when I say there are plenty of issues that come with it. A few weeks ago, I took a trip down to the edge of New Jersey around the Wildwood area and it was as foggy as you could imagine. The clouds were laying so low to the ground and the visibility was so poor that it was very challenging to fly, let alone get any photos that were worth it for me.
The biggest thing to remember when flying in these conditions is that clouds typically carry moisture. If you plan on flying for a long period of time in the clouds, expect your drone to come back soaking wet. If you fly in these conditions, do your best to keep your drone within your line of sight and fly lower to the ground for better visibility. Also, be sure to keep a towel or something in the car to dry off your equipment in case it comes back covered in condensation.
5. Flying a Drone in the Wind
Wind has to be one of the hardest things to handle on both the pilot and the drone. I would also recommend never flying in strong winds, unless you absolutely need to and feel like you will be able to maintain control of your drone in those given conditions. The best thing to do is wait for the wind to die down before flying.
I have flown in the wind several times, whether it be for work or just my own personal flying and I have learned a lot about how the drone handles those conditions. The biggest thing to understand about wind is flying with and against it. These are two very serious things; flying with the wind might not be a big deal, but flying against it is asking for trouble. When flying against the wind, your speed is decreased severely and it becomes very hard to control where the drone is going. Be sure to give yourself more time to return the drone home safely and try not to fly it so far away from you. If you are struggling to get the drone back while flying against the wind, try to fly forward and decrease altitude at the same time, which has actually helped me a few times.
Regardless of the wind, controlling the drone and camera is going to be a lot harder than usual. If you are doing any sort of video work, expect it to get tossed around a bit in the air and learn how to counter the wind hitting the drone for certain movements. If you plan on hovering in one spot just fine with the wind, think again because the drone will probably need some space to move around when the wind comes in. Try to leave yourself as much room as possible when flying in these conditions and always, always have your drone within your line of sight.
Weather is always going to play a large role when it comes to flying. Unfortunately, we have no control over it and have to play the cards we are dealt. Weather can make for great aerial photos and videos, or cause more trouble than we’d think. The best thing we can do as pilots is pay attention to the weather so we know what to expect when it comes time to fly. Always check the locations you are going to and if you do aerial work for a living, be sure to check the weather a few days in advance. I have to reschedule jobs all the time because of rain and wind, but it’s better safe than sorry. I’d rather fly on a nicer day, anyway!
DJI is known for making an awesome product, but drones are not designed to fly in crazy weather conditions. If you are going to fly your drone in any sort of weather, you should know what it is capable of handling beforehand so that nothing goes wrong and you aren’t caught off-guard. If you have never flown or don’t wish to fly your drone in inclement weather, please don’t feel like you need to for any reason. If you feel like you need to fly in any of the above conditions, please make sure you are extra cautious at all times.
Thank you to DJI for this post