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I got lucky in a tree and would like advice
480 9 2018-5-25
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BKahuna
Second Officer
Flight distance : 7425909 ft
United States
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I'm always impressed when I see people post videos where pilots fly their drones in these beautiful arcs, filming buttery smooth scenes that look right out of a movie.  I've read up on how to "deaden" my sticks to reduce the herky-jerky movements and have spent lots of time practicing controlling my yaw and roll at the same time to swing around a central point of interest.

I decided to take off from my back deck and practice this a little over the reservoir behind our house.  After a little warming up, I got dialed in and was really feeling it.  I had my speed up and was rolling around while using my yaw to stay focused on the subject in the middle.  Then my flight came to a very sudden end.



As you can see, I ran into trouble because I was essentially flying sideways.  The MA has no collision avoidance while flying sideways and I was too focused on my flying to pay attention to where I was.  After the initial shock of the collision I realized my drone was somehow still aloft.  It was about two blocks away from my house so I couldn't see it and had to figure this out using just FPV.  I tried to back up but it wouldn't go.  I thought at the time that my legs might have been caught in some foliage and I needed to climb a little to get free.  I did so but then still couldn't back up.  I decided to roll sideways and was able to escape the tree.  I turned back to look at the monster before I flew home and checked for damage (none done).

I did a full post-mortem of my experience and realized I did almost everything wrong and was lucky to get out of that tree so easily.  Really lucky.  Forget how I got in the tree to begin with.  I now realize that the reason I couldn't back up was that the collision avoidance system detected branches behind my AC.  My decision to climb was probably the dumbest thing I could have done.  It seem like worst case scenario is that I catch one of my rotors on a branch which would likely begin a violent bouncing around and initiate a DJI Care ticket.  There is no collision avoidance looking up from a MA and therefore I was blindly climbing in a very dangerous environment.  The next dumb thing I did was blindly rolling to the right to get out of the tree.  The reason that worked is there's no collision avoidance on the sides either.  Again, I'm flying blind in really tight quarters.  Somehow I got through the collision and resulting bad decisions without hooking a rotor on anything.

I believe, in retrospect, what I should have done was to disable the collision avoidance system as it was working against me now.  I should have not moved laterally or changed my altitude but instead tried to yaw around and see if I could see a safe way out.  Hopefully there would be a safe passage out of the limbs and I could slowly move out.  It also seemed to me that if I was going really slowly, I could survive hitting something with the body of the drone.  The real danger was getting something in the rotors.  So I should err to being too low if I was flying through a tight spot to get free.

Anybody have any thoughts on my experience or my after-the-fact analysis?  Anyone have experience that could be useful should I ever find myself in this position again?  I'm particularly interested in whether more experienced pilots think that turning off the collision avoidance system would be a good idea in a situation like this.

Thanks,

BK
2018-5-25
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HedgeTrimmer
Captain
United States
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I got lucky in a tree and would like advice  

I doubt many here have ever tried, let alone have sufficient experience to advise upon such topic.  
2018-5-25
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HedgeTrimmer
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United States
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So I should err to being too low if I was flying through a tight spot to get free.


To me, real error was not surveiling area looking in direction of circle path, before attempting to fly sideways through said circle path.

Having flown down through a truck sized opening in canopy of trees to get a closer look at target on ground, that required forward movement once lowered.  I would say checking proposed route out thourghly before hand is a must.   Frist thing I did was overhead circle looking over area.  Then a spin centered over opening while looking downward.  Then positioned drone close to top of trees, over a chosen central spot.  Then did another spin with less camera downward tilt checking for smaller branches.  Finally lowering drone down to where it cleared all limbs and branches, before moving drone forward under lower tree limbs.


The fun part was returning to that same open area, positioning drone over same centeral spot, and slowly ascending till well over tree canopy.

2018-5-25
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BKahuna
Second Officer
Flight distance : 7425909 ft
United States
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No question you're right.  I was flying in what is essentially my backyard and know the area well.  My mistake was that I wasn't paying attention to where I was or my altitude because I was concentrating on my flight path so much.  I'm more curious about the proper way to get out of my mess than how to keep from getting in it to begin with.

Your flight sounds a lot more challenging than anything I'm up to at this point.  I'm playing with Litchi now and if I had to do something like what you described, I'd probably program a mission so my only involvement is watching with my finger over the pause button.
2018-5-25
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3-D
Captain
Flight distance : 635764 ft
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BKahuna Posted at 2018-5-25 10:59
No question you're right.  I was flying in what is essentially my backyard and know the area well.  My mistake was that I wasn't paying attention to where I was or my altitude because I was concentrating on my flight path so much.  I'm more curious about the proper way to get out of my mess than how to keep from getting in it to begin with.

Your flight sounds a lot more challenging than anything I'm up to at this point.  I'm playing with Litchi now and if I had to do something like what you described, I'd probably program a mission so my only involvement is watching with my finger over the pause button.

i agree with HedgeTrimmer...  It isn't likely that many have been in that situation before.  Most of the time, if you have a collision, your aircraft falls.  

You were extremely lucky to even be able to get out of the tree at all.  the best thing that i think you can do if you ever find yourself in a position like that is not to panic.  After that, your actions are going to be dictated by your specific situation.  I would only turn off collision avoidance if i could put my eyes on it, and see exactly where it was.

Glad you got out
2018-5-25
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HedgeTrimmer
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BKahuna Posted at 2018-5-25 10:59
No question you're right.  I was flying in what is essentially my backyard and know the area well.  My mistake was that I wasn't paying attention to where I was or my altitude because I was concentrating on my flight path so much.  I'm more curious about the proper way to get out of my mess than how to keep from getting in it to begin with.

Your flight sounds a lot more challenging than anything I'm up to at this point.  I'm playing with Litchi now and if I had to do something like what you described, I'd probably program a mission so my only involvement is watching with my finger over the pause button.

I'm more curious about the proper way to get out of my mess than how to keep from getting in it to begin with.  


Being there are numerous tree capture scenarios, there probably is no proper way.  Perhaps all one can do is to think through how it happened, what might un-do tree capture, and try not to do something that makes things worse.  For example: Switching to Sport mode, commanding full asccent power; resulting in drone clipping tree limbs right above it.  Or for purpose of really thinking about what to do, shutting down props, adding full weight of drone to twig holding it, resulting in snapped twig and 30-foot fall to ground.

Maybe others here have some go to steps, techniques, or "proper way" to get un-captured.



2018-5-25
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HedgeTrimmer
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3-D Posted at 2018-5-25 14:00
i agree with HedgeTrimmer...  It isn't likely that many have been in that situation before.  Most of the time, if you have a collision, your aircraft falls.  

You were extremely lucky to even be able to get out of the tree at all.  the best thing that i think you can do if you ever find yourself in a position like that is not to panic.  After that, your actions are going to be dictated by your specific situation.  I would only turn off collision avoidance if i could put my eyes on it, and see exactly where it was.

My first comment was subtle reference - About getting lucky, and doing so in a tree; in regards to title of thread.
2018-5-25
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B1houdini
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Flight distance : 897238 ft
United States
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I am glad to see that you got out of a bad situation and made it back safety.
The only advise I have comes from what you said. "It was about two blocks away from my house so I couldn't see it " …..Remember to fly safe and keep the drone in view as you fly. "VLOS".
We learn from mistakes so I hope your next video is as good as this one without the near crash.
2018-5-25
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DJI Susan
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Thanks for sharing your experience with us. It's lucky to see you have got back the drone. If you need further assistance, please kindly start a case and send the unit in for diagnosis: https://www.dji.com/support
2018-5-25
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HedgeTrimmer
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B1houdini Posted at 2018-5-25 17:52
I am glad to see that you got out of a bad situation and made it back safety.
The only advise I have comes from what you said. "It was about two blocks away from my house so I couldn't see it " …..Remember to fly safe and keep the drone in view as you fly. "VLOS".
We learn from mistakes so I hope your next video is as good as this one without the near crash.

Remember to fly safe and keep the drone in view as you fly. "VLOS".  


Being it is good enough for Big-brother - Why can't we get VLOS ''Overwatch'' for our drones?  

After all, we are ones footing bills for all those Global Hawk, Reaper, Predator, etc. drones.

  
2018-5-25
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