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How common are fly aways?
2472 38 2015-12-29
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sansouci01
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Just wondering how common of a problem this is. I have a P3S. I only have about 5 hours flight time on it. My farthest distance has only been about 100 feet or so and max altitude has been about 150 feet. Pretty much flying it in my large back yard. Do fly aways only happen when flying a long way from you or can they happen any time? I have some great views across my pond about 5 hundred feet from me but I'm really nervous about going that far. Would hate tolose my drone to a fly away.

2015-12-29
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[RCG]Balthazar
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They can happen any time to any model of any brand. But they are getting very rare so don't loose any sleep over it. Just RTFM before the RTFM people comes after you
O and remember: They became Flying computers years ago.
Now they are Flying Computers with Logs and even internet so the makers will more often than not know if you followed TFM
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pi-inthesky
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[RCG]Balthazar Posted at 2015-12-30 01:02
They can happen any time to any model of any brand. But they are getting very rare so don't loose an ...

WOW i bet he learnt a lot from that answer
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Rebel
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Tip: the author has been banned or deleted automatically shield
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DJI-Ken
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Don't be nervous about flying across your pond, Most fly aways are user error. Just be smart and aware of your surroundings for interference. make sure your RTH is set to come back and not land since your flying over water. Make sure the RTH altitude is set higher then whatever is in the flight path.
If you lose signal, don't freak out, you should lose video signal before you lose radio signal. You can fly the Phantom home by following the line back in the map view. If you do lose radio signal as well, just wait and if your RTH settings are correct you'll see your Phantom in a few minutes.
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mike.wildlight
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DJI-Ken Posted at 2015-12-30 15:30
Don't be nervous about flying across your pond, Most fly aways are user error. Just be smart and awa ...


I can't really agree with Ken here, as I think there's just not enough real data to know, it's too easy to just "blame" the user. I've only had one flight out of  many that had a couple of fly-aways, and I was able to successfully bring the aircraft home with no damage or consequences, and it has not happened since.

One thing I'm sure Ken and I will agree on is that there would be literally thousands of successful flights  for every fly-away. It is a low risk but it can happen.
When I was into rocketry I used to say"don't fly what you aren't prepared to lose" but in rocketry there is wayyyy more chance of losing your bird than with these little high-tech marvels!
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oldpeach
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I have been lucky so far with over 60 flights and no fly aways.. (probably just jinxed myself)

I always follow the rules for calibration and watch for interference which makes me feel more confident in the aircraft.

calibrate in an area of little interference - 20 feet out in open area, nothing on you or in your pockets, not next to your car
Put your mobile device in airplane mode if you don't need the internet for your flight or pre cache your maps before flight if you want the satellite view
Take note of the number of satellite's on take off and wait for your aircraft to set its home point properly
If your new to dones , don't make your first flight the one where you see how far away you can fly


2015-12-30
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labroides
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WIth the P3 flyaways are extremely rare.
Even events that might be mistakenly called a flyaway by users not understanding how the Phantom works are much less common than they were for the P2 series.
2015-12-30
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DJI-Ken
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I agree with the above posts, and probably the most important part to prevent a fly away is make sure the compass calibration is done AWAY from anything metal. Be aware or your surroundings (telephone poles, antennas or any kind, buildings, WiFi signals, etc)
Personally I only calibrate my compass when I travel to a different state, or I change something on the aircraft, or after firmware update. I know 100% for sure the last time I did a compass calibration there was no metal around. If you leek at a map of magnetic declination you can see that you can travel pretty far without any compass deviation.
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snowride419
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DJI-Ken Posted at 2015-12-30 13:30
Don't be nervous about flying across your pond, Most fly aways are user error. Just be smart and awa ...

Completely disagree.  Its like saying cancer is caused by a persons lifestyle, easy to point the finger at a lung cancer survivor until YOU get some weird kind of cancer.  Flyaways can happen to any one at any time.
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DJI-Ken
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snowride419 Posted at 2015-12-31 01:30
Completely disagree.  Its like saying cancer is caused by a persons lifestyle, easy to point the f ...

I've been flying multirotors for 5 years and have had several F450's and F550's, the first Phantom all the way to the Phantom3, S800, TBS Disco, Yuneec Q500, and some others I don't remember. And hundreds and hundreds of hours and have never had a Fly Away.
Although I have a friend who had one with his Phantom2 but he also said he never calibrated the compass.
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mike.wildlight
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DJI-Ken Posted at 2015-12-31 03:45
I've been flying multirotors for 5 years and have had several F450's and F550's, the first Phantom ...

There are people that go their entire lives without getting a serious illness, but that is not evidence that there is no serious illness.
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DJI-Ken
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mike.wildlight Posted at 2015-12-31 01:49
There are people that go their entire lives without getting a serious illness, but that is not evi ...

I understand that fly-aways exist, I'm just stating that out of the millions of multirotors out there there are very few in relation to all that are out there. And out of those it's probably a very high percentage user error.
I'ts very easy to analyze the DAT files from the aircraft (if recoverable) and also the data from the app to see why it happened.
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snowride419
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DJI-Ken Posted at 2015-12-31 01:45
I've been flying multirotors for 5 years and have had several F450's and F550's, the first Phantom ...

I had a very similar opinion to you regarding flyaways...until it happened to me.  160 successful flights...then on the 161st it flew away against my controls into power lines and then crashing into the ground.  I was just trying to hover and it took off and when I tried giving altitude to avoid the powerlines nothing happened, it just kept flying itself against my inputs.  Again, flyaways may seem rare and may seem to always be introduced by human error, but in my case, it just flew away.  It happened.  The flyaway happened.  I had a flyaway that I believe is not caused by human error, and outside of a couple of posts on this forum, DJI has not really been very interested in helping me resolve my issue (which is another issue all together).
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DJI-Ken
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snowride419 Posted at 2015-12-31 02:45
I had a very similar opinion to you regarding flyaways...until it happened to me.  160 successful  ...

I was still waiting for your answer from the other thread for your ticket number.
And I forwarded your DAT files to the flight techs to analyze and will let you know what caused the crash.
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DrACE
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User Error 95% of the time.  I have a guy I know, just got one for Christmas and buried it into trees on his 1st flight.  Said it just flew away, he wasn't doing anything.  Lucky for him, he had no clue you could look at the flight logs, which I did and it showed a hard straight forward into trees.  I assumed he got his sticks messed up (human error) and thought he was gaining altitude.  

Human error is the result of nearly every crash.  
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DJI-Ken
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DrACE Posted at 2015-12-31 06:57
User Error 95% of the time.  I have a guy I know, just got one for Christmas and buried it into tree ...

Agree 100%
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DrACE
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snowride419.  Not busting your balls here but what is your deal.  In this thread its a flyaway, you did nothing, in another thread you were testing an error which caused it to crash.  Which is it?  Im guessing human error.  
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snowride419
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DrACE Posted at 2015-12-31 07:07
snowride419.  Not busting your balls here but what is your deal.  In this thread its a flyaway, you  ...

I never said I "did nothing" Read what I posted again.  My P3A was exhibiting crazy vibrations and drifting/wandering in a circle immediately after upgrading to 1.5.  I followed a thread on this forum and during that investigation the aircraft lifted up and then backwards (from my perspective).  I was not giving it lateral movements but I was trying to give it altitude because the rouge lateral movements were pushing the P3A toward my roof and then into power lines.  It didn't get enough altitude before it got to the power lines and came crashing down.  I wasn't directing it to go South West but is sure as hell was going that direction.



And "my deal" is that DJI has not been responsive and even closed my ticket yesterday without even bothering to add comments as to why it was being closed.  Before the DAT files have yet to be analyzed the ticket has been closed.  18 days after the incident and I'm still at square 1.  That's "my deal"  I don't expect the world, I just feel like I'm being ignored here.  
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[RCG]Balthazar
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DJI-Ken Posted at 2015-12-30 19:41
I understand that fly-aways exist, I'm just stating that out of the millions of multirotors out th ...

After my very first P1 tried a flyaway which I prevented by flicking GPS/ATTI (Does this trick work on the P3?) I calibrated the compass.
This was in the middle of absoulutly nowhere near civilisation as we know it.
I calibrated the compass and restarted drone+radio before trying again.
New flyaway, the mode trick didnt work this time and my baby flew off into the sunset.
We spent two days searching for it by foot and by drone without result.
This was in October 2013.
I've had thousands of successful flights with all kinds of Phantom models and other aircrafts after that.
Point beeing that Yes flyaways can and will happen even without any man made structures or user errors.
But they are by no means every day events.
Space weather is one possible cause for some of it and complicated electronics can fail.
Anyone remember Windows 95 for example?
Crashing and freezing almost on a daily basis!
Now a days computer are much more stable just like any other complicated electronic devices like drones and even cars
Flyaway_october_2013.jpg
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2015-12-31
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eishiba_lancord
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mine crashed from the sky and dji was kind enough to offer 30 percent off of a new toy instead of replace it. be careful.
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DJI-Ken
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[RCG]Balthazar Posted at 2015-12-31 19:08
After my very first P1 tried a flyaway which I prevented by flicking GPS/ATTI (Does this trick wor ...

Exactly, and the P3 is much more advanced than the P2 so a fly away is unlikely if all precautions are followed.
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Kneepuck
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In all the reading I have done ,  and I read a lot,  it seems like the Standard does not really suffer from flyaway.  That appears to be more common on the Advanced and Pro for some reason.
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DJI-Ken
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Kneepuck Posted at 2016-1-1 03:08
In all the reading I have done ,  and I read a lot,  it seems like the Standard does not really suff ...

A flyaway on any Phantom3 is extremely uncommon if you have made all the correct steps in aircraft setup, know your flight environment, and fly LOS.
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mike.wildlight
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The simple truth of the matter, is that quoting percentages of pilot error (95% and the like) is pure conjecture. To say it's rare to happen  is fair, but there seems a predilection by many on this forum to jump on the "blame wagon". I see ppl quick to blame DJI, and ppl quick to blame pilots and both approaches are flat out wrong, no ifs, no buts, just wrong.

These conjectural generalisations lead me to believe that those making them have little to no experience in formal investigative process (fair enough, not a large percentage of the population does).

Just because fly-always are rare doesn't make them not an issue, I reckon they are probably a big issue for those that lose their aircraft as a result! Just because they can be caused by user error doesn't mean that should be the automatic "go to" position, far from it! That's when it's even more important to use a methodical non-judgemental approach.

One of the simplest investigative approaches is the 5 whys. At each stage of the failure ask "why did that happen, then ask why again, keep drilling down by the time you've got to five levels for each failure you are in a better position to understand the root cause. Sometimes even when the initial failure is user error it might not mean "at fault" the root cause can be completely different.

A bit more objectiveness and empathy and a lot less judgement and leaping to conclusions is free to do and would make this forum a much nicer and more useful place.
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Kneepuck
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DJI-Ken Posted at 2015-12-31 12:43
A flyaway on any Phantom3 is extremely uncommon if you have made all the correct steps in aircraft ...

Yes,  I meant relatively speaking.
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jmims
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I had the Phantom 2 Vision+, and I was greatly concerned about flyaways. Purchased a tracker and that put me at ease. I have a P3P now, and although I don't worry about it, I still use the tracker.
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aburkefl
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There apparently have been *some* legitimate fly-aways. But, by-and-large, most fly-aways are pilot error. One of the "stickies" here on the forum relate to Top Ten Common Pilot Errors.

The people who (1) read the manual, (2) go slowly, i.e., take it easy when you're first starting, (3) utilize some kind of reasonable check-list and (4) experience fly-aways are a rare group of people!

Utilize a lot of common sense and keep your Phantom close until you're convinced you understand what's going on - you'll be fine.

Art - N4PJ
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[RCG]Balthazar
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Space Weather

Here's a picture of what I think is responsible for quite a few of the Flyaways not related to pilot or manufacturing errors:
Space_Weather.jpg
Beautiful isnt it?

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mike.wildlight
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[RCG]Balthazar Posted at 2016-1-2 01:10
Here's a picture of what I think is responsible for quite a few of the Flyaways not related to pilot ...

Beautiful pic Balthazar,
But unless there is some peculiar quirk of the DJI flight control systems that makes them susceptible to minor variations in GPS locations space weather is not a viable explanation.
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The Bat Drone
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mike.wildlight Posted at 2016-1-1 00:11
The simple truth of the matter, is that quoting percentages of pilot error (95% and the like) is pur ...

I totally agree with you Mike

All I'm hearing from these posts is "I knew a guy, my friend had this happen..." we as a community spend a lot of money and time dedicated to this hobby or some even their profession. We should all be a bit more mature and concentrate on the facts in hand.

However when someone has posed a legitimate question to ask how common a flyaways are, they should get an factual answer based on precedents  and past failures.
This should be made very attainable by DJI. Sorry for singling you out DJI-Ken but you should have access to official statistics of reported flyaways and make this public so the original poster can make his own judgement based on the statistics.

The CAA or the AAIB here in England does not base it's investigations on hearsay and conjecture. They could tell you in statistics the types of faults that happen with aircraft, how often this has happened and how to best avoid the problem by recommending or with  forced improvements.

It's good to have healthy debates and talk about matters but this should all be very factual. If and when I ever had a flyaway and I lost my wonderful drone, I'd hate to think that people on here would blame DJI straight away but again the company should not be quick to blame the pilot and help me as an operator get to the problem.

Let the media do it's job of reporting on wild accusations, let us stick to facts and help improve flying for us all.  

P.s sorry about any spelling and grammar mistakes haha
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[RCG]Balthazar
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Lol tell it to the Canadians
It took a really big one, but it knocked out Quebec's power grid in less than 2 minutes!
Those kinds of impacts is rare, but our sun is at it's most active now and I think smaller problems are more common than we'd like to think.
Hope I'm wrong though
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dduncan1978
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Dude, don't be scared!!! I opened the box, read the get started calibrated everything. Hit auto take off and with in 8 minutes I was 11,250 feet away. Looked at something followed my map back home, at this point I don't even know how to land. Hit the RTH watched it land.
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dduncan1978 Posted at 2016-1-2 23:10
Dude, don't be scared!!! I opened the box, read the get started calibrated everything. Hit auto take ...

Its really easy to concentrate on fly-aways and see them both as a larger issue than they actually are (after all they're the stories that get told, often embellished and modified for effect) but also to miss the valuable opportunity they present.

I used to fly (full sized) aircraft and during times of poor weather (when flying wasn't an option) you'd get to reading the Air Accident Reports.  Over a lot of years General Aviation has perfected the art of objectively assessing the facts of accidents and ignoring conjecture and assumption (as other people above have indicated) and then presenting them publicly in a way that's useful for other aviators so they can avoid the same mistakes or challenges and live to fly another day.

UAV flying isn't quite that evolved yet and we see the unfortunate "its the pilot's fault, what a Newbie!" conclusion from some that, without context or detail, helps no one.

Sometimes pilots make mistakes; they had a bad day, missed something on their checklist or maybe were just doing something with their drone for the first time. Sometimes it's something else; mechanical, bird-strike, act of god. But whatever causes fly-aways / crashes / near-misses* (*delete as appropriate) the great pilots want to understand what happened, why it happened and what they can do to avoid it happening to them.

The inexperienced flyers just want to call the unfortunate pilot a Newbie, feel self-satisfied in their ignorance, and merrily go on with their lives.

Want to take a wild guess at who holds on to their precious aircraft the longest?


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sansouci01
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Thanks for all the opinions and comments. My thoughts and concerns about fly-aways will not keep me from flying my phantom but I'm sure it will be in the back of my mind as it is for a lot of you I'm sure. No one wants to lose their $1000+ drone and watch it fly off into the sunset
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DrACE
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Unless every single person reports every flight you cannot get a true defining point.  My 95% was a guess but I bet a very accurate estimate.  Take the popular thread on this forum about the person who flew their bird around a building and then bam, lost.  They initially blamed the software and after loading up the data and flights, 100% human error.  Never said they couldn't happen but if fly aways were a legitimate 15-20%.....DJI would be out of business.  

You rarely hear about the millions of daily successful flights happening daily but hear about every "fly away".   My experience with fly aways or near accidents was each time human error.  Check out youtube crashes.  People blame the software as they are trying to shoot a gap in an abandoned building and crash it.  
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mike.wildlight
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[RCG]Balthazar Posted at 2016-1-3 07:08
Lol tell it to the Canadians
It took a really big one, but it knocked out Quebec's power grid in  ...


That is precisely the point, without a bit of research it's easy to jump to the conclusion that "it knocked out something as big as a power grid. WOW if it can do that what can it do to my little quad!" Where in reality with a bit of research you come to the understanding that power grids are more susceptible to this phenomena than these little flying machines.

I started looking into the space phenomena as a genuine concern, but knowing many commercial pilots, people who earn their living with telemetry, and having commissioned and been involved with large UAV surveys, I was curious as to why I'd never heard it mentioned before. In fact I'm not aware of any DJI literature that mentions it as a risk (Have never gone looking for that in DJIs literature either).

This is some of the factual information I've come across:
http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/impacts/space-weather-and-gps-systems
It mentions GPS accuracy errors of 10s of meters during a severe space weather storm rather than catastrophic signal failures.

"The principal users affected by geomagnetic storms are the electrical power grid, spacecraft operations, users of radio signals that reflect off of or pass through the ionosphere, and observers of the aurora."

This is the official NOAA GPS dashboard which refers to a lot more than just Kp:
http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/communi ... community-dashboard

For an explanation of Kp, relationship to geomagnetic storms and their the effects have a look at the geomagnetic storm tab here:
http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/noaa-scales-explanation
Even at severe they refer to degradation of the system rather than "failure".

From this data use Kp 8 or more as your conservative threshold rather than the 5 that is commonly discussed.

At 9 or over the GPS satellites can shut down so yep that's gonna stuff it for GPS flight for sure.

http://www.sdr.gov/docs/185820_Space_FINAL.pdf
This document refers to the disaster risks associated with solar events. It describes in a very severe event back in 2006 which caused the loss of the WAAS system (which I'm pretty sure is not used by DJI anyway) for 10hours on two consecutive days and widespread GPS outages. In these conditions you would not get a GPS fix to start with in the affected areas or a significantly reduced number of satellites.

http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/impacts/space-weather-and-gps-systems
This page was the source of my earlier quote and states (more fully) "In calm conditions, single frequency GPS systems can provide position information with an accuracy of a meter or less. During a severe space weather storm, these errors can increase to tens of meters or more." Again though, 10s of meters is not going to cause catastrophic fly-ways, or be an explanation for signal losses.

http://hesperia.gsfc.nasa.gov/sftheory/spaceweather.htm
This also just refers to the degradation of GPS signals as discussed above.

So this may affect GPS signal but not the LOS telemetry or control systems. I use GPS a lot in both my personal and professional lives and never had anything other than temporary and minor glitches which can usually be attributed to terrain, vegetation or heavy cloud. I’m thinking that using Kp as a reason not to fly or an explanation for fly-aways in most circumstances is a bit of a stretch

I'm lucky enough to know some very smart people experienced in the professional use of telemetry and GPS, none of whom believe there is a significant risk with all but the most extreme events.

As far as I can see the science doesn't support the fear factor.
Looking at the science I can only come up with two scenarios.
1) The community has a disproportionate wariness of solar storms to the actual risk.
2) The DJI tech is unusually susceptible to issues related to solar storms.
Of these I believe the former is far more likely scenario.
I haven't noticed any formal literature from DJI suggesting the people check Kp and do not fly above a certain value.

I have a passion for science and the truth and I too frequently see the  well intentioned, repeating what amounts to speculation as truth and fact. I seem to have a annoying (to me and probably to others) compulsion to correct that.

So I would say, do not spread fear, spread knowledge and make informed decisions.
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mstrtf.gmail
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i think they are pretty common after scrolling the net for the last few days. ive seen way to many videos like mine
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and the worst is that the dji tech tell you "they dont know"
http://forum.dji.com/forum.php?m ... mp;page=1#pid336695
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