Understanding the steps to take whenever your drone gets stuck in a tree is the knowledge that every drone pilot should possess. It could happen as a result of the wind blowing your drone in the wrong direction. It could also be that you mistakenly pressed the wrong button on your drone.
The best way to get your drone out of a tree is to climb the tree and get the aircraft down. This works for trees that are lower than 20 feet. For trees higher than 20 feet, it is best to mount a ladder and extend a pole to get the drone down.
You must not forget to follow all safety measures when trying to get your drone.
In the rest of the article, we will discuss the best ways to get your drone from a tree—the actions that you must avoid taking, and the best practices when flying around trees.
Five Ways To Get Your Drone From A Tree
The first thing to do when your drone gets stuck is to stay calm and access the situation. Take some time to note the height of the tree, the position that your drone is in, as well as the distance of the drone from the ground. Once you have done this, it will be easy for you to determine the best way to get your drone down. Below are five ways to get your drone from a tree.
- Shake The Tree: This is perhaps the least stressful way of getting your drone down from a tree. It also does not require a special technique. You should know that shaking the tree would not work for tall trees, so consider the height before shaking. Pine and palm trees are usually quite tall, so the shaking method hardly works with them. If it is possible to reach a branch of the tree, shake a branch close to where your drone is stuck on getting it down. In this case, avoid shaking the branch which the drone is on; instead, shake the branch closest to it. This will give you enough time to catch the drone after it comes off, stopping it from falling to the ground. It is best to have assistance when attempting to get a drone out of a tree by shaking. This makes it easier for both parties to share the duty of shaking the tree and catching the drone. It is much safer and reduces the risk of the drone falling to the ground from a height.
- Use A Pole: Using a pole is another option that works well when trying to get your drone out of a tree. All you need to do is get a pole nearby to reach the drone at the height at which it is stuck. You must pay attention to details when picking a pole, as the type of pole you use greatly determines your success in getting the drone out of the tree. Avoid using a large or heavy pole; instead, go for a drone that is light in weight. This will give you all the leverage you need to maneuver the pole when getting the drone down. For this purpose, using a fiber or plastic pole is the best option. Using a stick requires that you improvise a lot, and you should be ready to use your environment to your advantage. After getting a pole, check to see if it is long enough to reach the drone and get it down. If it is not long enough, explore the option of climbing on a higher plane to give you better reach. Resources like pipes might come in handy, so keep your eyes out in case you find any. Connect the pipe to your pole using duct tape, and it gives you a better chance of getting your drone down. Like with the shaking of tree method, using a pole to get your drone down is best down when you have a friend around to help you. Your friend can focus on catching the drone when you get it down or vice versa. If you are all alone, try to push the drone gently so it doesn't have a hard landing.
- Climb The Tree: Climbing the tree is another option that can work very well when trying to get a drone out of a tree. Now, if it is a tall pine tree or a palm tree, it is best to consider another option, as your climbing could be risky and most likely unsuccessful. Before you climb the tree, you must ensure that you plan for the descent after retrieving your aircraft. You must therefore be sure to have enough room to come down before going up to get your drone. Once your safety is assured, climbing can be embarked on.
Climbing trees require some basic skills, and you should ideally have some experience with trees before deciding to use this method to get your drone. Do not consider climbing a tree to get your drone if it is your first time on a tree. Be sure to be wearing fitting clothes, with no valuable items on you, before mounting the tree. Wearing loose clothes puts you at the risk of getting stuck by a branch. It is safer to climb trees barefooted, so you can do well to take your shoes and socks off beforehand. Feel the tree before climbing to determine if it is wet. Wet trees are slippery, and is not safe for climbers, so avoid mounting any damp tree. Below is a foolproof plan for climbing trees to retrieve your drone.
– Stretch Before Climbing: Try to stretch your limbs before climbing the tree. This will loosen your hips, calves and ankles, allowing you to mount the tree with ease.
– Climb Barefoot: Climbing the tree gives you maximum surface contact, allowing you to move easier and faster. Always take your shoes and socks off before climbing.
– Wear Protective Gear: If you have any at hand, wear protective gear when climbing a tree to get your drone. Helmets are reliable as they protect your head in the case of a fall.
– Fall Feet First: In the case that you lose your footing while on the tree. Do everything possible to fall feet first. Falling with your head first is very dangerous and can cause brain injuries. Fall feet first, with your arms placed securely by your side. It also helps if you try to break the impact of your fall by falling onto shrubs. This reduces the possibility of scratches and severe injury.
- Ladder: A ladder is one of the safest options available to you for getting your drone down. For tall trees, using a ladder is your best bet. It helps that you can always rent a ladder if you do not have one. Do not use a ladder if there is no one around to hold it at the base while you climb. It reduces the risk of you falling from the ladder, as well as providing support in case of a mishap. Make sure that the ladder is on flat ground so it stays steady while you climb. For big people, use a strong ladder that can hold your weight.
- Slingshot & A Wire: This is a technical means of getting your drone down from a tree. It involves using a slingshot in combination with fishing wire. The slingshot is used to get the fishing wire onto the tree and shake the branch to get the drone down. You need a slingshot, lead weight and fishing wire to make this method work. Attach the fishing wire and lead weight together, making room for slack depending on how high the drone is. After attaching them, but the fishing wire around your slingshot and aim for the branch holding the drone. Once appropriately aimed, the fishing wire will wrap around the branch, after which you can shake to get the drone free.
- You can also use a hydraulic lift.
These methods require helping hands, so you should never climb trees without company.
Things You Must Not Do When Trying To Get Your Drone From A Tree
In desperation to get their drones out of a tree, people try different methods. Some of these methods are pretty dangerous and should be avoided at every point. These methods are discussed below.
- Do Not Climb A Tall Tree: Your safety is the priority when it comes to retrieving a drone from a tree. For that reason, you should avoid climbing a tree that is too high. A benchmark of 20 ft is safe enough when considering the height of the tree. There are better options available, such as using a ladder or a slingshot.
- Do Not Exert Force: Exerting force when trying to get your drone out of a tree defeats the purpose of retrieving it in the first place. No guarantee using force will get the drone down. Even if you successfully bring it down, it will fall with a bang and properly have some of its vital parts damaged. You could even break part of it on the tree when you use force. Use any of the methods listed above, and you can be sure to get your drone in good condition.
- Do Not Flush The Drone: Some people suggest flushing with a hose when methods of retrieving a drone from a tree are mentioned. This is a terrible idea, one which you will most likely regret. For one, most drones are not waterproof, and the use of water to get them out of a tree will also cause damage to their parts. Also, using water will make the drone fall at great speed, increasing the likelihood of damage when it falls.
- Do Not Rescue A Drone With A Drone: Rescuing a drone from a tree using another drone is heavily advised against because of the technicality involved in doing it successfully. Only use a drone for retrieving another drone if it is a heavy lifting drone. Otherwise, it is best to explore other options. Using a regular drone means that you will exert force, which can damage the rescue drone or both drones in some cases. In worse cases, both drones could get stuck in the tree.
Will The Fire Department Get A Drone Out Of A Tree?
Yes, the fire department can help you get your drone out of a tree, but it is not guaranteed. You should only call them as a last resort when you have exhausted other options. As drones are inanimate objects, it is not a priority for them, and they might not respond to you quickly if there are pending emergencies. When you call them, go straight to the point, stating the situation clearly. Depending on the case, the fire department will inform you if it is possible to help you.
Best Practices For Rookie Pilots To Avoid Flying Into Trees
- Registration: Registering your drone with the F.A.A is the first thing to do after purchase. As long as your drone weighs more than .55 grams and less than 55 pounds, you have required it under the FAA Unmanned Aircraft Registration System.
- Read The Manual: Even if you have prior experience with flying drones, you must read the user manual and safety guidelines that come with the drone. This is because every drone is peculiar might have certain requirements to fly it safely. Take your time to go through the manual and understand it before flying.
- Controls: The controls are the essential part of every drone and are crucial to the overall flying experience.
- Practice: After learning all the controls, practice it to be familiar with what every button does. When practicing, use every button alone, as well as in combination, to prepare you for flying. You can also use these buttons in a simulation mode, so you have first-hand experience of what it is like to fly a drone. Practice in a safe area, and always be sure to be in simulation mode.
- Weather: Like every aircraft, the weather is significant to the successful flying of a drone. Check the weather conditions to be sure it is favorable for flying. Do not fly if there is strong wind, rain, fog, lightning, or snow. Your vision will be impaired with these conditions, and there is a risk of crashing your drone.
- Full Charge: Before every flight, make sure that your drone is fully charged. Drones run on power, and your aircraft running out of juice mid-flight is disastrous, as it will result in a crash. You must also keep an eye on the battery status during flight to ensure enough power left for descending.
- Line Of Sight: Always keep your drone in sight at all times. As a rookie flyer, you should not fly the drone to a great height, always fly it close to you until you get better at flying. You can also use the help of a spotter when practicing.
- Distraction: One of the biggest mistakes that new flyers make when learning is allowing themselves to get distracted. Keep your focus on your drone at all times, never taking your eyes off it.
- Hovering: Take your time to hover around for about thirty seconds before taking off. This timeframe allows you to determine aerial stability. After this, you can start flying the drone.
- Avoid Aggression: Do not fly your drone aggressively. Pushing your buttons sharply reduces the room you have to make adjustments during flights. Also, push the controls gently, so you can make changes if needed.
- Reverse: Never fly your drone in reverse. Flying your drone in reverse increases the probability of collision and can cause a severe crash. Move your drone in a forward direction at all times.
You should understand that getting your drone stuck in a tree is inevitable. With the best practices and improvisation, you can always get it down whenever it gets stuck.
Size up the tree always to know the next step of action. Avoid using brute force and water, as they are very harmful to the functionality of your drone. Before climbing a tree, be sure that you are up to the task and that an exit plan is available. Shake the tree to assess if that is a viable option first, ensure the tree is strong enough to support weight or shaking without breaking. Also, check for damp and wetness. If it is wet and does not feel heavy enough to carry your weight, do not try climbing. Place your ladder securely before climbing, and be sure that it can carry your weight.
Overall, your safety matters, so you should not carry out any rescue mission unless it is safe. Call for backup if need be, and also notify an acquaintance about your whereabouts. This way your drone retrieval process from the tree will be safe and a cool experience to share with other drone hobbyists, not a cautionary tale instead.
Shawn Manaher loves to play with new toys and dive into new hobbies. As a serial entrepreneur, work definitely comes first but there is always room for hobbies.