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

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

As we’re at the moment in spring and with summer time rapidly approaching, individuals are having fun with increasingly water-based actions. A few of these actions might be filmed by drone.

JetSkis 2.23.1.jpg
Picture Credit score: Dan Bayne/AISCF

A query that usually arises round this time of yr, after the lakes and ponds have unfrozen and folk 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 issues to help 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. This can be a easy assertion, however very loaded.

One of many nice issues about many fashionable drones is their dimension and portability. Due to this, we are able to simply toss a foldable drone in a bag or in a automobile 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 must be no massive problem.

Realizing the world, nonetheless, means:

  • figuring out the setting’s inhabitants similar to birds and different wildlife that may pose a risk 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

If you’re planning an precise journey to a particular, beforehand unknown space, like someplace on trip, then it is suggested to plan the flight.

Planning your flight will be accomplished 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 handle, or an handle 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 to 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 forms 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)

ALOFT Air Management

The entire apps talked about right here give much-needed data for drone flights similar to real-time maps, lively airspace, with Aloft and UA Forcast displaying weather-related data.

» MORE: How one can Apply for LAANC on a Sensible Gadget utilizing ALOFT Air Management (Video)

2. Pre-Flight Checks

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

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

A few of the main areas to examine, 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 vital to examine previous to flight, there are in fact many extra areas that must be built-in to the pre-flight course of previous to any flight, all of which might save your drone from “drowning” or crashing into an individual or property.

» MORE: What to Verify 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.

Be aware: 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 sequence) can not flip off the VPS system.

Briefly, VPS is a know-how utilized by DJI drones to map the encircling floor beneath the drone, aiding in its positioning. This partially helps preserve it regular when there is no such thing as a stick enter.

As a result of water is a reflective floor, flying over it with VPS on could cause points, one in every of which is the drone making an attempt to land within the water when too near the floor.

To disable the Imaginative and prescient Positioning System (VPS) in DJI drones operating 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 screen.

1 Menu.png
Picture Courtesy of DJI

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

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 Dwelling Level

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

When on a transferring boat, it is very important replace the house level usually, because the drone operator is perhaps in a number of places 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 additionally profit from updating the house level usually, as one might simply be fairly a distance from the preliminary launch web site.

For filming waterways, you possibly can both:

  • Manually set the house level
  • Set the house level to observe 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 final settings, underneath the Security tab go into Replace Dwelling Level.

1 Safety Tab.png

You’ll then be dropped at 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 the moment prefer it.

3 Drag 2

If you need to set the distant controller as your private home 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 Situations

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 velocity.

Positive you possibly can go searching and see fairly clearly if it’ll rain, nonetheless, figuring out what the wind is doing just a few hundred toes above the water can imply the distinction between a profitable flight or a downed or misplaced drone.

On the subject of wind, though it is perhaps fixed at 3 or 4 mph just a few dozen toes from the bottom, as soon as at 100 or 200 toes in top, that breeze can immediately flip into raging gusts, making it tough to manage the drone and even return the drone to your present place.

Additionally, wind velocity can rapidly deplete a drone battery, inflicting different forms of points (talked about later).

One other factor to contemplate is one thing referred to 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 by way of the present.

As an illustration, if flying on a summer time day and a drone takes off from a scorching car parking zone, the air currents push the drone upwards (scorching 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 preserving a drone out of the water if flying too low.

In these conditions, the drone operator will be ready for the opposed 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 concentrate on 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 fairly 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 affordable distance. Because the saying goes “objects in mirror are nearer than they seem”.

Likewise, a ship, whereas filming, could appear so much additional away than it truly is both to the bare eye, from a distance, or on a tiny good gadget display screen.

I’ve personally seen drones crash into boats whereas filming. Once more, that is largely due to not listening to the instant filming space or misjudging the boat’s path.


Dwelling 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.

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

A very good tip when flying close to water is to deliver the drone up just a few dozen toes above the place it launched and wait just a few 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 have interaction the drone, fly straight as much as keep away from them, as birds can not fly straight up. After doing this just a few instances, the birds almost certainly will lose curiosity, if not close to their nest.

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


Should you dwell in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, or Texas (simply to call just a few), being cautious of alligators is really helpful.

Alligators can launch themselves from the water to a top of 5 toes.

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 not less than one not too long ago documented information incident of an alligator grabbing a drone out of the sky after which the drone caught hearth because the alligator chewed on it, little question 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 pondering might in the future 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, nonetheless, when in the course of flying, one can rapidly lose a way of time and be totally 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 operating batteries down utterly relies 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 just a few hundred yards, on just a few p.c battery life, and the drone is flying towards the wind, there’s a very sturdy likelihood the drone is not going to make it again dwelling.

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

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

8. Use Clever Flight Modes

This final tip is a matter of desire.

Many more recent drones have some form of clever flight mode in-built, whether or not it’s some form 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 neglect 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 so forth.

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

Common Suggestions

Beneficial Flying Top

On the subject of flying over water, one factor to remember is the very best minimal top to securely fly the drone with out shedding it to water.

DJI strongly suggests flying no decrease than 3 toes (1 meter) above the water’s floor.

That is vital, as we’ve touched on, waves can kick up inflicting the drone to be misplaced, convective currents could cause the drone to immediately dip, or the drone could provoke touchdown procedures pondering the water’s floor is the bottom.

Seashore Launches

When flying on the seashore, it’s suggested to deliver 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.

Should 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 properly, albeit barely cumbersome, as mats don’t fold for simple storage in a gear bag.



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