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HomeCreative IdeasIdeas for Flying a Drone Over Water (Video) – Droneblog

Ideas for Flying a Drone Over Water (Video) – Droneblog

As we’re at present in spring and with summer time shortly approaching, individuals are having fun with an increasing number of water-based actions. A few of these actions might be filmed by drone.

JetSkis 2.23.1
Picture Credit score: Dan Bayne/AISCF

A query that usually arises round this time of yr, after the lakes and ponds have unfrozen and people get again to the waterways is: What steps are wanted to fly a drone safely and confidently round and above water, and guarantee it returns dwelling?

On this article and the included YouTube video, we’ll go over numerous ideas and steps wanted to fly any drone over water safely, in addition to some weather-related concerns to assist on this. We’ll be utilizing DJI drones for the step-by-step parts of this text.

1. Plan, Plan, Plan

Plan or know your setting. It is a easy assertion, however very loaded.

One of many nice issues about many trendy drones is their dimension and portability. Due to this, we will simply toss a foldable drone in a bag or in a car and fly when close to an attention-grabbing location.

If we’re in a location we know just like the again of our hand, flying that space’s waterways needs to be no massive problem.

Understanding the world, nevertheless, means:

  • figuring out the setting’s inhabitants comparable to birds and different wildlife that may pose a menace to your drone
  • figuring out if there are precise no-fly zones that intersect the water
  • figuring out if there are seaplanes or helicopters within the neighborhood
  • figuring out if there are drone no-fly zones posted by the native authorities

In case you are planning an precise journey to a particular, beforehand unknown space, like someplace on trip, then it’s endorsed to plan the flight.

Planning your flight could be completed within the following methods:

Seek the advice of Google Maps or Apple Maps

That is a simple first step, because it mainly solely requires placing in an deal with, or an deal with within the neighborhood of your journey vacation spot, placing the map in hybrid view (to see the streets, panorama, and topography), after which scrolling across the map at a magnification that works in your view.

Analysis Utilizing Drone-Particular Apps

After getting a lay of the land with Google or Apple Maps, utilizing a drone-specific app may also help dive deeper and see what varieties of airspace and warnings are within the neighborhood.

Apps that may help on this, that we advocate are:

» MORE: 13 Apps Each Drone Pilot Wants (Should Learn)
» MORE: How one can Apply for LAANC on a Good Gadget utilizing ALOFT Air Management (Video)

ALOFT Air Management

All the apps talked about right here give much-needed data for drone flights comparable to real-time maps, energetic airspace, with Aloft and UA Forcast displaying weather-related data.

2. Pre-Flight Checks

One thing beneficial by most drone operators, no matter the place flying, is preflight checks.

Why is that this so necessary? As a result of not like flying over land, the possibilities of retrieving a submerged drone may be very small, whereas a crashed drone, on land, can extra simply be recovered, with minimal harm.

Among the main areas to verify, earlier than flying are:

  • Batteries. Drone and Distant Controller
  • Propellers
  • GPS Satellite tv for pc lock
  • Return to dwelling. We’ll contact on this extra

Whereas these areas are necessary to verify previous to flight, there are after all many extra areas that needs to be built-in to the pre-flight course of previous to any flight, all of which may save your drone from “drowning” or crashing into an individual or property.

» MORE: What to Test Your Drone for Earlier than a Flight (Learn This First)

3. Flip off Imaginative and prescient Positioning Programs (VPS) in DJI Go 4

Now that is an attention-grabbing tip, one which even DJI recommends.

Notice: This step is just for these utilizing the older DJI Go 4 app to fly their drones. The newer DJI Fly app and the drones related to it (DJI Air 2 and 2S, Mini 2, 3, and three Professional, in addition to the Mavic 3 collection) can not flip off the VPS system.

In brief, VPS is a expertise utilized by DJI drones to map the encircling floor beneath the drone, aiding in its positioning. This partially helps hold it regular when there isn’t any stick enter.

As a result of water is a reflective floor, flying over it with VPS on may cause points, certainly one of which is the drone trying to land within the water when too near the floor.

To disable the Imaginative and prescient Positioning System (VPS) in DJI drones working DJI Go 4:

STEP 1: Go into the Go 4 menu system by tapping the three dots within the higher right-hand nook of the display.

1 Menu.png
Picture Courtesy of DJI

STEP 2: Find and enter the sensor(s) tab on the left-hand facet of the display.

2 Sensors.png

STEP 3: Guarantee Impediment Avoidance is enabled.

3 Enable OA.png

STEP 4: Go into Superior Settings.

4a Advanced.png

STEP 5: Flip off “Allow Imaginative and prescient Positioning.

5a Disable VPS.png

4. Manually Replace Residence Level

This tip is extra for those who might be filming over the water from a ship, kayak, or different sort of watercraft.

When on a transferring boat, you will need to replace the house level commonly, because the drone operator may be in a number of areas through the time of the flight. Within the case of an RTH (return to dwelling) incident, it’s helpful for the drone to return to the present location

People who plan to movie waterways and might be strolling the size of the shore may also profit from updating the house level commonly, as one may simply be fairly a distance from the preliminary launch website.

For filming waterways, you’ll be able to both:

  • Manually set the house level
  • Set the house level to comply with the distant controller. That is finest for when on a ship.

To replace the house level within the DJI Fly app:

STEP 1: After going into the overall settings, below the Security tab go into Replace Residence Level.

1 Safety Tab.png

You’ll then be delivered to the regulate dwelling level map.

2 Current 2.png

STEP 2: Drag the map round till the H (dwelling level) has been moved to the place you’d at present prefer it.

3 Drag 2

If you want to set the distant controller as your property level, merely press the RC icon and the house level might be set to the controller.

4 To RC 2 1

5. Know the Climate and Circumstances

One other crucial factor to know or analysis when flying over water is what the climate goes to be like. Particularly, figuring out the wind and wind gust pace.

Positive you’ll be able to go searching and see fairly clearly if it’s going to rain, nevertheless, figuring out what the wind is doing a couple of hundred ft above the water can imply the distinction between a profitable flight or a downed or misplaced drone.

In the case of wind, though it may be fixed at 3 or 4 mph a couple of dozen ft from the bottom, as soon as at 100 or 200 ft in peak, that breeze can abruptly flip into raging gusts, making it troublesome to regulate the drone and even return the drone to your present place.

Additionally, wind pace can shortly deplete a drone battery, inflicting different varieties of points (talked about later).

One other factor to contemplate is one thing known as convective currents.

Convective currents are affected by objects that maintain or generate both warmth or chilly. Relying on the supply affecting them will decide how your drone will fly via the present.

For example, if flying on a summer time day and a drone takes off from a sizzling car parking zone, the air currents push the drone upwards (sizzling air rises). As soon as that drone begins to cross a cooler space throughout flight, say a physique of water, the currents will push down on the drone (cool air falls).

Being conscious of those currents can help in holding a drone out of the water if flying too low. In these conditions, the drone operator could be ready for the hostile motion of the present when flying over cool water in the summertime, and regulate accordingly.

6. Be Aware of Obstacles

When flying round and over waterways, there are obstacles to pay attention to that one may not usually encounter when flying over land.

Waves and Seaspray

Being conscious of waves and seaspray actually impacts these daring drone operators that intention to get proper in on the motion with their photographs.

An unsuspecting wave can and has taken out the drones of these which can be paying extra consideration to the shot relatively than their environment.

Seaspray can be an enemy of drones. Though it may not trigger a drone to instantly fall from the sky, there could possibly be damaging results to the drone over time because the internals of the drone begins to corrode from publicity to salt water.


When filming boats, it’s advisable to maintain an inexpensive distance. Because the saying goes “objects in mirror are nearer than they seem”. Likewise, a ship, whereas filming, could seem so much additional away than it truly is both to the bare eye, from a distance, or on a tiny sensible machine display.

I’ve personally seen drones crash into boats whereas filming. Once more, that is principally due to not taking note of the quick filming space or misjudging the boat’s path.


Residing and filming in a state the place predatory birds are fairly widespread, it’s a should to look out for these and plan accordingly when filming of their neighborhood.

It is a sensitive topic for me, as I’ve been the unlucky recipient of an osprey strike that drowned certainly one of our drones. Fortunately I used to be in a position to go swimming and retrieve it.

A great tip when flying close to water is to convey the drone up a couple of dozen ft above the place it launched and wait a couple of seconds to see if any birds present curiosity in it. If none do, then you’re good to fly.

If any birds do attempt to interact the drone, fly straight as much as keep away from them, as birds can not fly straight up. After doing this a couple of occasions, the birds most probably will lose curiosity, if not close to their nest.

If flying within the neighborhood of a nesting fowl, it’s best to fly away from the quick space.


When you stay in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, or Texas (simply to call a couple of), being cautious of alligators is beneficial.

Alligators can launch themselves from the water to a peak of 5 ft. That is one thing they generally do to seize birds and rodents off low-lying limbs and branches over the water. They will do the identical to low-flying drones.

There was at the very least one just lately documented information incident of an alligator grabbing a drone out of the sky after which the drone caught fireplace because the alligator chewed on it, little doubt inflicting some hurt to the alligator.

There’s a mentality Floridians have and that’s, if there’s water, assume there’s a gator in it. This sort of considering may at some point save a drone if flying within the talked about states.

7. Keep away from Working Batteries Down Utterly

This may sound like a no brainer, nevertheless, when in the course of flying, one can shortly lose a way of time and be completely shocked when the drone begins to provoke RTH (return to dwelling) as a consequence of a scarcity of battery share.

The rationale it’s best to keep away from working batteries down utterly is predicated on one thing talked about early, that being wind.

When flying alongside seashores, over open water, and low-lying lakes, the wind can kick up actually out of nowhere. If the drone is out a couple of hundred yards, on just a few p.c battery life, and the drone is flying in opposition to the wind, there’s a very robust probability the drone won’t make it again dwelling.

Once more, that is one thing that’s nicely documented on-line, the place fairly a couple of folks have misplaced their drones to wind as a consequence of not having sufficient battery share to get again to the house level.

We’re at all times suggesting touchdown across the 25% to 30% mark, for battery well being. In the case of flying round oceans and lakes, this course of can show helpful.

8. Use Clever Flight Modes

This final tip is a matter of choice.

Many more recent drones have some type of clever flight mode inbuilt, whether or not or not it’s some type of course lock, Level of Curiosity mode, or follow-me mode.

When flying over water, utilizing one thing like a course lock or follow-me mode (for boats or jet skis) will allow the operator to both “set a course and overlook it” or draw a field round a watercraft, let the drone do its factor, whereas the pilot focuses on the shot or video and minding issues like battery share, and many others.

» MORE: DJI Mini 3 Professional Clever Flight Modes (Defined for Newcomers)

Basic Ideas

Beneficial Flying Top

In the case of flying over water, one factor to remember is the perfect minimal peak to securely fly the drone with out shedding it to water.

DJI strongly suggests flying no decrease than 3 ft (1 meter) above the water’s floor. That is necessary, as we now have touched on, waves can kick up inflicting the drone to be misplaced, convective currents may cause the drone to abruptly dip, or the drone could provoke touchdown procedures considering the water’s floor is the bottom.

Seashore Launches

When flying on the seaside, it’s suggested to convey alongside a touchdown pad, as launching from one minimizes the quantity of sand that may be blown into the motors and even the drone’s internals.

When you don’t have a touchdown pad, in a pinch, I personally have used and advocate utilizing a floormat from contained in the automotive.

Merely place the rubber finish of the mat on the sand (in case you have mats that even have a carpeted facet) and go. This works very nicely, albeit barely cumbersome, as mats don’t fold for simple storage in a gear bag.



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