Why Did My Drone Crash

Flight Log from Autel EVO II Pro Crash

Why did my drone crash? That is an all to common question both commercial and recreational drone pilots ask after each drone crash.

I have been flying drones for almost 5 years. I love everything aviation. As a young man I flew single engine aircraft, Piper Tomahawks, Warriors. and Cessna 150s. On a near daily basis I fly my computer via flight simulators, much to my wife’s ire. I try to fly one of my three drones as often as possible.

The other day while executing a mapping mission I was flying my relatively new Autel EVO II Pro and the drone crashed. Now this wasn’t my first crash, My first crash was a fly-a-way on my very first flight with my very first drone, a Christmas present from my wife, what was she thinking? It was a cheapy drone and I decided to fly on a windy night since I couldn’t wait! I guess a fly-a-way is technically a crash since at some point the drone is going to return to earth.

Infected with the drone bug I decided to get myself a “real drone”, a Yuneec Breeze. Crashed that sucker several times. It loved to go into the death spiral. Oh, never use your body as a way to stop the death spiral. I eventually sold the Breeze to a former friend and used the proceeds to purchase a DJI Spark. Now I know advanced pilots would probably not consider the Spark a serious drone and while I wouldn’t go into business with one, it was an amazing little beast.

I crashed my first Spark during takeoff into a tree. Luckily I purchased it from Kohl’s (don’t judge me) and they exchanged it with a new one no questions asked. I ended up selling the replacement Spark to friend and used those proceeds to get my first “serious” drone, a DJI Mavic Air. The “Air” was a great drone and but for a crashing it during my first Litchi mission on to the deck of the USS Battleship Texas I might still have it.

Like I said earlier, I currently have three drones, Yuneec Typhoon H Pro that has never been crashed, a DJI Mavic 2 Zoom/Pro, 1 crashed and an Autel EVO II Pro that I just recently crashed.

With the exception of the Breeze death spirals all of my crashes have been due to pilot error, basically running into something:

Drone Root Cause of CrashResults
Cheapy first droneLack of experience, lack of patience decided to take my first flight on a windy nightDrone flew away as soon as I took off.
Spark #1Lack of situational awarenessRan into a tree during vertical takeoff
Mavic AirPoor planning – I miscalculated the height of the center mast of the ship. Impatience – I arrived just after sunset but was determined to fly even though the light was insufficient, lack of experience using the Litchi app, panic.Ran into the the mast of the USS Battleship Texas. When I realized I was too low I didn’t know how to terminate the mission as well I panicked which hampered my ability to figure out to terminate the mission.
Mavic 2 ProPoor planning and lack of situational awareness – I misjudged the height of a tree during a Christmas light shoot. Ran into a tree.
Autel EVO II ProLack of experience with new drone, panic. I had become accustom to flying the Mavic 2 and assumed I had sufficient battery to land at the home point despite a 20% low battery warning. Even though I still had control of the drone I panicked. There where multiple safe landing spots between me and the drone but because I was panicked and unfamiliar with the EVO II I keep trying to make it to the home pointRan into a tree.

Each one of those crashes were 100% pilot error and 100% avoidable. The last one hurt my feelings the most and even though the EVO II is one tough drone and suffered no damage, I thought I was sufficiently familiar with it. Well I wasn’t. Look at the flight log I had 11% battery which certainly was enough to make it an additional 622 feet. But because of my lack of experience with this drone I panicked and didn’t fly the aircraft.

The moral of this story is don’t make the same mistakes I have. Fly safe and have fun.

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