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Unresponsive remote controller, Spark crashed in sea
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3350 68 2017-12-23
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warrenski
Second Officer
South Africa
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I updated to version 01.00.0900 of the aircraft firmware a few days ago, and had an incident today where I lost total control of my Spark and watched it fly off and crash into the sea. I'm not sure if the cause was related the firmware revision, but I know that I had no trouble with the Spark at all before the upgrade. I was unable to find/recover my Spark, it's gone for good.

I had excellent GPS signal, and take off was normal. There was no trouble gaining a small amount of altitude (just enough for Spark to pass over my head) using the joystick. As soon as I inched the aircraft forward, the remote controller suddenly became unresponsive and I lost absolutely all control of the drone using the joysticks. The drone went bezerk and flew off to the one side (towards the sea) at great speed (e.g. the speed it was travelling looked like it had entered Sport mode on it's own) and on a descent towards the water. Pressing the pause button on the remote controller did nothing at all. I helplessly watched it crash into the sea.

It's important to note that I've flown from the exact same location multiple times without incident.

I don't want to blame the firmware update, but I do want to bring to your attention that this is the only change to the aircraft since my last flight.

Log from DJI GO4 app:
http://www.phantomhelp.com/logviewer/R8XYO15KMJROMQQA8GE2/
Log data shows drone reached high speeds and multiple "Speed error" and "Compass error" messages were logged while the drone was unresponsive to the remote controller.

DJI support please respond. I also emailed DJI support and have been allocated request reference 898433.

RIP Spark, only had you for one month ;(
2017-12-23
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Wachtberger
Captain
Flight distance : 261509 ft
Germany
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Hi Warrenski, good that you have already opened a support case with DJI and I hope this incident can be resolved. I have had a look at your flightrecord already but have no good "inspiration" yet for an informed interpretation. I sincerely hope and trust that others will be able to do this better than me and I am sure too that at the latest after the long Christmas holiday weekend the DJI team here will take good care. But most importantly I feel with you and will fly a "lost formation" for your Spark at my next flight with mine.
2017-12-23
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fansea82e29a
lvl.4
Flight distance : 7441 ft
United Kingdom
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I updated to 0.900 tonight , flew in my room and straight away had sensor overheating errors (never had that previously) drifting and sudden drops. Went straight back to 0.800 and no problems (apart from it seems like the yaw drift is worse than previous updates). So it seems there may be a problem with 0.9000.
2017-12-23
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Wachtberger
Captain
Flight distance : 261509 ft
Germany
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What I can contribute here so far is that I have done my first test flight with firmware .900 this afternoon and there have been no issues at all. There are many other factors that potentially can be the cause.
2017-12-23
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hallmark007
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Flight distance : 7009278 ft
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Hi warrenski, looking at your log, first you had serious compass problems that’s a certain. It’s Born out by the fact that you lost control of your Aircraft very suddenly and increase in speed while still showing gps mode is evident in your log.
It is almost certain that your aircraft was in Atti mode, not sure if you got or heard warning to this effect, your Aircraft did respond to your stick movements you can see this in your log at 393 seconds to 424 seconds, you were pulling down 100% and aircraft was responding by lowering altitude, although I’m sure that in such a short frame of time and at such speed it was a daunting task for anyone to control this, after 424 seconds no more stick movements so I’m presuming crash took place soon after.

When these drones get compass problem aircraft cannot handle conflict between compass fault and gps data, so it will drop gps to try to allow pilot to fly manually, usually this is followed by warning that it is in Atti mode, in your case this doesn’t seem to have happened which is very strange, the sheer speed of aircraft is a sure tell tale that it was in Atti mode.

Foe me this is certainly a malfunction of your app in not giving you warning, I also have seen a recent case where another user had a similar problem with compass , but did get warning that his aircraft was in Atti mode and even though he was out of VLOS and lost his drone dji offered full warranty, I don’t see anything different with your case in fact if anything you have somewhat a better case.

Whether this has anything to do with new FW it’s impossible to say and I don’t believe there is anyway dji will tell you this. I hope it works out for you and I wish you well , and happy Christmas and hopefully good tidings will bring.
2017-12-23
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Todd in Chicago
Second Officer
Flight distance : 513757 ft
United States
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Folks...

I'm trying to learn how to view these logs as well.  When looking at the Phantom help log file, it looks like from the red line that the Spark crashed somewhere on the beach, is that right?  I'm not sure I'm understanding why if the Spark crashed in the sea, the red line continues back into the beach.

Cheers...

Todd in Chicago
2017-12-23
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TudorD
First Officer
Flight distance : 778363 ft
Romania
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Todd in Chicago Posted at 2017-12-23 17:39
Folks...

I'm trying to learn how to view these logs as well.  When looking at the Phantom help log file, it looks like from the red line that the Spark crashed somewhere on the beach, is that right?  I'm not sure I'm understanding why if the Spark crashed in the sea, the red line continues back into the beach.

High tide? Looking at some past images from Google earth of this beach you will find such changes in beach dimensions.

What I do not see in the incident description is the wind... and according to this  http://windreport.co.za/wr_sunsetbeachpast.shtml it was  a windy day.
2017-12-23
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S-e-ven
Captain
Flight distance : 5835331 ft
Thailand
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-P-GPS        17satellites        5.6ft        18.4ft        40.3mph-

40 miles per hour in p mode?
I doubt, that that is a pilot error!
2017-12-23
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Ned Spark
lvl.4
Flight distance : 265614 ft
Australia
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Wachtberger Posted at 2017-12-23 16:16
What I can contribute here so far is that I have done my first test flight with firmware .900 this afternoon and there have been no issues at all. There are many other factors that potentially can be the cause.

sorry to hear that Warrenski...
I have similar experience to Wachtberger
I updated the firmware to .900 & iOS 4.1.20 & had no issues so far on my first flight. Flew low in my backyard & completed 360 pano & horizontal pano with several parallel tracking shots (both forward & backward). Also flew in sports mode for several minutes. I reckon update has given me longer fly time too! (13min 18sec). I have never had a flight this long before, but as this is only 1 x flight, need more than one data point...
2017-12-23
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warrenski
Second Officer
South Africa
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hallmark007 Posted at 2017-12-23 17:12
Hi warrenski, looking at your log, first you had serious compass problems that’s a certain. It’s Born out by the fact that you lost control of your Aircraft very suddenly and increase in speed while still showing gps mode is evident in your log.
It is almost certain that your aircraft was in Atti mode, not sure if you got or heard warning to this effect, your Aircraft did respond to your stick movements you can see this in your log at 393 seconds to 424 seconds, you were pulling down 100% and aircraft was responding by lowering altitude, although I’m sure that in such a short frame of time and at such speed it was a daunting task for anyone to control this, after 424 seconds no more stick movements so I’m presuming crash took place soon after.

Thank you for walking me through the data. The instant that Spark started gaining speed, my attention was on trying to regain control of the aircraft, and unfortunately I can't say whether or not I heard a voice prompt from the app about the aircraft entering ATTI mode. I'm fairly confident that I didn't. Thanks again, merry Christmas to you and all the best.
2017-12-23
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S.J
Captain
Flight distance : 322454 ft
Kuwait
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Your main problem was you did not manually set the home point on your mobile device......This is a grave error done by 90% of the people who reported a Fly away ....Good luck next time...
2017-12-23
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S.J
Captain
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Kuwait
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fansea82e29a Posted at 2017-12-23 16:11
I updated to 0.900 tonight , flew in my room and straight away had sensor overheating errors (never had that previously) drifting and sudden drops. Went straight back to 0.800 and no problems (apart from it seems like the yaw drift is worse than previous updates). So it seems there may be a problem with 0.9000.

this can't be very sure.....you need to do a test again...  Also  repeat the download if you have more than one battery
2017-12-23
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S.J
Captain
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Kuwait
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Another issue i see in the flight log is you were flying at very low height , which is again a grave error in terms of flying above water !!...Man, there are a few  piloting  concerns....
2017-12-24
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djiuser_qtpkGrH
Second Officer
Flight distance : 300932 ft
United States
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S.J Posted at 2017-12-23 23:53
Your main problem was you did not manually set the home point on your mobile device......This is a grave error done by 90% of the people who reported a Fly away ....Good luck next time...

What do you mean by "manually" set the home point? Thanks
2017-12-24
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S.J
Captain
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Kuwait
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djiuser_qtpkGrH Posted at 2017-12-24 00:04
What do you mean by "manually" set the home point? Thanks

Normally , the SPARK during take off will  show the green statement- Home point updated and please check it on the map info... on the mobile device....From my experience, to make double sure that this has been done correctly, you have to manually update the the home location through the first menu in the app....
2017-12-24
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djiuser_UC4DTWF
lvl.1
Flight distance : 76965 ft
Austria
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S.J Posted at 2017-12-24 00:10
Normally , the SPARK during take off will  show the green statement- Home point updated and please check it on the map info... on the mobile device....From my experience, to make double sure that this has been done correctly, you have to manually update the the home location through the first menu in the app....

Shouldn't the app do that automatically?

I mean I always check that the drone has a good GPS signal before take-off.
And when I hit the RTH Button on the remote control it always flies back to it.
2017-12-24
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warrenski
Second Officer
South Africa
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S.J Posted at 2017-12-23 23:53
Your main problem was you did not manually set the home point on your mobile device......This is a grave error done by 90% of the people who reported a Fly away ....Good luck next time...

You're wrong, I did actually manually set the home point.
2017-12-24
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warrenski
Second Officer
South Africa
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S.J Posted at 2017-12-24 00:03
Another issue i see in the flight log is you were flying at very low height , which is again a grave error in terms of flying above water !!...Man, there are a few  piloting  concerns....

After take off I raised the drone above my head and inched it towards me slowly. This was over land, from up on a sand embankment at some distance from the water. When I tried to manuevor the aircraft further, it began to move at speed by itself down towards the sea and did not seem to respond to remote control input. There is no way that I would have intentionally put the aircraft at risk by piloting it at a low altitude and in such a manner.
2017-12-24
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S.J
Captain
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Kuwait
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You may not have done anything intentionally but these drones do have problems since they are heavily dependent on each component and being  linked to internet, wifi and regularly communicate thro' DJI servers...So we need to be double sure of basic flight rules while takeoff
Normally the first 1 minute during take off must include detailed observations on the SPARK housing for any minor hair cracks, propeller faults , mobile app for any errors and ofcourse the Home point setting !!
2017-12-24
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dansmar
First Officer
Flight distance : 334669 ft
United States
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It sounds like this SJ is giving some erroneous info, better to wait for the DJI response - please post their response it would be interesting for all - thank you
2017-12-24
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warrenski
Second Officer
South Africa
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dansmar Posted at 2017-12-24 05:43
It sounds like this SJ is giving some erroneous info, better to wait for the DJI response - please post their response it would be interesting for all - thank you

Thank you, I will try share whatever info I can once DJI has completed their investigation.
2017-12-24
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CabinPete
lvl.4
Flight distance : 98 ft
United States
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It will automatically set the home point, check on the map to verify and fly.
For some reason members post their shake a chicken while circling the drone crap.
Follow the manual, it looks like you did, and fly.
You will always see the pilot blamed for fly always. Some times it is but as I have been seeing, some times it isn’t, the drone just goes rogue.
Wait for DJI to help you and disregard all the blame from people who weren’t there, for me it’s getting old.
I’m surprised I didn’t read, yet, how the wind or concrete caused your problem.
I’m starting to think they added a remote to a drone that shouldn’t have one and should have just left it as a selfie drone.
I’ll find out tomorrow just how good it is or isn’t.
2017-12-24
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Bright Spark
First Officer
Flight distance : 22129 ft
United Kingdom
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Blasé , moi?
2017-12-24
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hallmark007
Captain
Flight distance : 7009278 ft
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Sweden
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Todd in Chicago Posted at 2017-12-23 17:39
Folks...

I'm trying to learn how to view these logs as well.  When looking at the Phantom help log file, it looks like from the red line that the Spark crashed somewhere on the beach, is that right?  I'm not sure I'm understanding why if the Spark crashed in the sea, the red line continues back into the beach.

Hi Todd, it could be that the tide was out when that google map pic was taken.

I’ve seen this before, those pictures are old google versions.

2017-12-24
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choban
First Officer
Flight distance : 30784 ft
Singapore
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Sorry to hear this. But it seems that you have a strong case here for a warranty claim. Good luck!
2017-12-24
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fansea82e29a
lvl.4
Flight distance : 7441 ft
United Kingdom
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S.J Posted at 2017-12-23 23:58
this can't be very sure.....you need to do a test again...  Also  repeat the download if you have more than one battery

I'm not going to risk it...I wouldn't want that happening at 300 feet. 0.800 is stable enough at the moment.
2017-12-25
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Dirty Bird
Captain
Flight distance : 7722949 ft
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United States
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S.J Posted at 2017-12-24 00:10
Normally , the SPARK during take off will  show the green statement- Home point updated and please check it on the map info... on the mobile device....From my experience, to make double sure that this has been done correctly, you have to manually update the the home location through the first menu in the app....

I don't own a Spark but I do own 8 other DJI birds & have made several thousand flights.  I've never had to manually update the Home Point on a single one of them.  If the bird has sufficient satellites it sets this automatically on liftoff.
2017-12-25
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S.J
Captain
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Kuwait
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Dirty Bird Posted at 2017-12-25 12:05
I don't own a Spark but I do own 8 other DJI birds & have made several thousand flights.  I've never had to manually update the Home Point on a single one of them.  If the bird has sufficient satellites it sets this automatically on liftoff.

yes, you are correct but when you do this manually during takeoff , you will see that occasionally the SPARK doesn't update the home point and this brings the doubt that take off may be not preferable at that moment..  Once you can get the manual update done instantly, from my experience the SPARK will not fly away or crash in mid flight for any software reasons.  
2017-12-25
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fansea82e29a
lvl.4
Flight distance : 7441 ft
United Kingdom
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S.J Posted at 2017-12-23 23:58
this can't be very sure.....you need to do a test again...  Also  repeat the download if you have more than one battery

I did it again and had the same problem and went back to 0.800 then on Monday had a fly away and crash with 4.1.22...
2018-1-2
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S.J
Captain
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Kuwait
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fansea82e29a Posted at 2018-1-2 08:30
I did it again and had the same problem and went back to 0.800 then on Monday had a fly away and crash with 4.1.22...

did you get a GPS query while you opened the DJI Go4 app.  You must reject the GPS query.
Also the Wifi settings query, you must cancel
If you do not do the above, you will land into issues in flying beyond 40 meters distance
2018-1-2
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fansea82e29a
lvl.4
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United Kingdom
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S.J Posted at 2018-1-2 08:56
did you get a GPS query while you opened the DJI Go4 app.  You must reject the GPS query.
Also the Wifi settings query, you must cancel
If you do not do the above, you will land into issues in flying beyond 40 meters distance

Sorry..I don't know what you mean by either of them? I don't recall seeing them?
2018-1-2
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S.J
Captain
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fansea82e29a Posted at 2018-1-2 09:22
Sorry..I don't know what you mean by either of them? I don't recall seeing them?

the app will request you to accept or reject access to the mobile GPS. You must reject this GPS access else the distance limitation will take effect.
2018-1-2
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Neroangelo
lvl.4
Flight distance : 7441 ft
United Kingdom
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S.J Posted at 2018-1-2 16:53
the app will request you to accept or reject access to the mobile GPS. You must reject this GPS access else the distance limitation will take effect.

I don't recall if rejected or not, I don't think I was in location mode...but have I never had any problems before when location has been activated in my tablet or had any WIFI warnings?

The fly away that I had was when the battery reached 0 after various other problems. I have a post about it " Yet another another long fly away story".
2018-1-2
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S.J
Captain
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Kuwait
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Neroangelo Posted at 2018-1-2 17:03
I don't recall if rejected or not, I don't think I was in location mode...but have I never had any problems before when location has been activated in my tablet or had any WIFI warnings?

The fly away that I had was when the battery reached 0 after various other problems. I have a post about it " Yet another another long fly away story".

Even if you are not in location mode, the latest version of the app requests you to allow access to your mobile GPS. This must be rejected by all means. I know this is not a case where you need to know but this is what experience told me )

I had similar issues but in all cases what i do is waste 1 minute to do a check list and initial run of the spark at very minimal distance and altitude before flying to distance beyond 1 kilometer. The SPORTS mode tends to malfunction but all you need to do is to switch again between SPORTS and normal mode to regain the speed.
All these problems arises becos the software is working overtime to check the NFZ and learn from two GPS devices.
I think it is high time DJI  updates the processor on the SPARK.  I think the CPU is overloaded while it does all these functions.
2018-1-2
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Neroangelo
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Flight distance : 7441 ft
United Kingdom
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S.J Posted at 2018-1-2 17:12
Even if you are not in location mode, the latest version of the app requests you to allow access to your mobile GPS. This must be rejected by all means. I know this is not a case where you need to know but this is what experience told me )

I had similar issues but in all cases what i do is waste 1 minute to do a check list and initial run of the spark at very minimal distance and altitude before flying to distance beyond 1 kilometer. The SPORTS mode tends to malfunction but all you need to do is to switch again between SPORTS and normal mode to regain the speed.

The thing is with my Spark I can't get past 1700 feet...no idea why....
2018-1-2
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ADDvanced
lvl.2
Flight distance : 76204 ft
United States
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I just had a fly away too.  And I had just updated the app, prior to flying it on 12-30.  Not sure if this is related.  It was flying fine, then a compass error, and saying P-GPS, and IMUen Countersheading or something.

Then it just flew off and wouldn't respond.
2018-1-2
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S.J
Captain
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Kuwait
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Neroangelo Posted at 2018-1-2 17:35
The thing is with my Spark I can't get past 1700 feet...no idea why....

that is a pretty good flight distance .
2018-1-2
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Neroangelo
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Flight distance : 7441 ft
United Kingdom
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S.J Posted at 2018-1-2 19:23
that is a pretty good flight distance .

Good? With a controller on a hill in the countryside? I see people getting more than twice that distance in the open!
2018-1-3
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S.J
Captain
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Kuwait
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Neroangelo Posted at 2018-1-3 02:07
Good? With a controller on a hill in the countryside? I see people getting more than twice that distance in the open!

that's becos they must have tricked the drone firmware to accept FCC mode .
2018-1-3
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Neroangelo
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Flight distance : 7441 ft
United Kingdom
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S.J Posted at 2018-1-3 03:30
that's becos they must have tricked the drone firmware to accept FCC mode .

DJI specs say themselves that the Spark can get up to 1.2 miles in the open...not 0.2 miles....

https://www.dji.com/spark/info
2018-1-3
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