Near Miss!

© Dave Whenham

DJI Mavic Pro, circular polariser.

This was taken with the drone around twenty feet up and whilst I was using Tripod mode on the Mavic for the first time in order to gently manouevre the drone up through the tight spaces between the trees. This mode considerably lowers the maximum speed (down to around 2mph I believe whereas my Mavic has a normal top speed of 23mph according to my flight record) and also makes the sticks “duller” for finer control. I’d not used the mode before but was interested in how much more control it provided and also whether or not it really did improve the look of video footage.

The gaps between the trees where small and narrowed as you went upwards but by standing underneath and being careful I was doing OK.

Snap! At twenty feet I used the button on top of the controller to grab a still as I gently eased upwards.

So, this picture was taken and all was serene and I was feeling confident and calm as I gently pushed up to thirty feet when suddenly – whoosh!

As the drone cleared the shelter of the trees a sudden gust from a crosswind slapped it hard towards the top of this slender tree and with the camera module pointing downwards I could see I was inches away from crash-landing in the treetop. I then realised just how slow Tripod mode is – VEEEERRRRY slow.   I was not able to simply push the stick upwards for a a sudden burst to take the drone up and out of danger so it was a painful few seconds before I was free of the tree and bringing the drone gently back down again.

If I’d had more experience of Tripod mode I would have hit X to return to normal and pushed up on the stick to clear the danger more quickly.  But we learn with each flight and as my time with the drone approaches twelve months I’m learning more each time I fly. Certainly five months stuck indoors with health issues unable to fly the drone didn’t help my learning but I’ve made up for it this month with six separate outings in eleven days with a little over two hours flight time.

I tried once more to push the Mavic upwards but the wind was still giving the drone a serious battering though so prudence suggested it was time to bring it back down below the treetops for the time being!  I still continued to use Tripod mode but kept the drone to around twelve feet as I practiced flying through the trees.

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