WARNING – don’t push your drone battery to its limits!!

Northern Ireland Aerial Landscape Photography of Ballintoy as seen from White Park Bay.
Ballintoy, Northern Ireland

Since buying my DJI Mavic Air 2 drone a few months ago I have been extremely cautious with my battery.  I read horror stories about people losing drones as they sought to get every single second of flying time from each battery.

In order to avoid this I would normally start to think about bringing my drone home with approximately 40% battery remaining, ensuring that by the time the battery reached 30% the drone was very close to my location (within 100m) and ready for the landing phase.  Typically I would be switching batteries when there was 25-30% battery remaining.  This approach is safe and sensible, allowing me to deal with any eventualities such as strong wind as I flew the drone back to me.

On a recent trip I decided that, with a little more drone flying experience under my belt, I could utilise this spare battery capacity and reduce my safety margin.  It was quite a windy day but as I flew my drone out over this beautiful beach on the north coast of Ireland I was able to fly the Mavic Air 2 at maximum speed in sport mode, approximately 68kph.  As I ascended to maximum altitude, 120m, I received a few strong wind warnings but the drone was only approximately 500m from me and I was confident enough to keep flying, even when my battery dropped to my normal threshold of 40%.

I decided to keep flying and soon my battery had dropped to 25%.  I descended and started to fly back to my home location and started to panic when I realised my maximum speed was now only 25kph, less than half the speed I had experienced as I flew to the beach.  I had not taken account of the wind direction and strength and had gotten greedy in relation to battery life and flight time.  I eventually landed with 7% battery left, only 2% short of the drone force landing itself no matter where it was.  For a few minutes I genuinely believed I was going to lose my drone.

I know most drone flyers have an experience like this at some point – I have certainly learned my lesson!  It was a totally unnecessary mistake to make as I have 3 batteries which offer me all the flight time I need.  Be careful out there and if you think you can fly a little longer than you are comfortable with, don’t!!

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