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!!