Is your drone stuck in a tree?
As an FPV lover, this isn’t an uncommon scenario. You take your new drone out for a spin and some minor miscalculation ends up crashing your drone into a tall tree.
Here, we gathered 14 possible ways to get your drone out of a tree.
Let’s get started.
Before You Start
Before we introduce ways to get a drone out a free, we want to advice you to do it safely. With that being said, if one method isn’t viable or would put you in a dangerous situation, check that off the list and move on to the next method.
We want you to be able to retrieve your drone, but we also don’t want you to do any activity that’ll put you or anyone else at risk.
Keep in mind that even if you’re successfully able to get the drone out of a tree, the impact of falling to the ground can damage the device. To avoid this, I recommend laying some cushions or soft impact to avoid any further damage to the drone.
1. Best Solution: Fishing Line with Weight
From our experience and that of many others, the most effective way to get your drone out of a tree is to use a fishing line with weight. You’ll want to tie the weight at the end of the rod and get it over the branch that the drone is stuck on. Once you have the line in place, shake the branch enough to make the drone drop.
Fishing lines with a light, compact weight tends to perform the best, especially for taller trees. However, there are many possible variations, such as using a rope instead of fishing rod, and any item for the weight, as long as it can be tied to the end of the line. Just look around and use what is immediately accessible to you.
2. Activate Turtle Mode
If the drone stuck up there is an FPV quad, it may be able to free itself with turtle mode. Turtle mode, or Flip Over After Crash, is a mechanism that you can set up for FPV quads, that allows it to turn upside down if it lands the wrong way.
When you activate turtle mode, you can activate 2 adjacent motors at a time, to help the drone flip back over in any particular direction. If your drone has the turtle mode feature, try activating the motors gently to see if you can get the drone to nudge itself off the tree.
Unfortunately, DJI Mavic drones do not have this feature.
3. Shake the Tree
If your drone isn’t stuck too tightly, giving the tree a couple of shakes can help get it off.
It may be obvious, but this method won’t work for big, sturdy trees. When using this method, be careful of falling branches and other debris since you’ll be directly under the tree.
4. Climb the Tree
For the active, energetic type, perhaps the easiest method may be to climb the tree yourself and shake the branch that’s holding the drone. Although we don’t recommend this method for taller trees, this might be possible with smaller trees with lots of sturdy branches.
Alternatively, if you have access to a ladder, you can use that to climb the tree. One method that works quite well is to climb the ladder halfway and steadily bounce up and down to shake the tree with the ladder. Make sure that the ladder is safe to use and is steadily fixed onto a sturdy part of the tree. Even better if you have someone hold the base of the ladder as you climb.
Remember, a new drone is cheaper than a trip to the hospital.
5. Throw an Object
A safer way to retrieve a drone from a tree is to throw something from a distance. Look around you for objects to throw, but avoid anything that can be dangerous when falling, such as rocks and metals. An extra shoe (not the one on your feet) or tennis balls can be good to use since they’re soft and easy to throw.
6. Bow and Arrow or Toy Gun
If you prefer an easier method or lack the arm strength to reach the drone, an alternative can be to use either a bow and arrow or toy gun that you have lying around. Although BB guns can also get the job done, we can’t recommend them as a safe way to retrieve your drone.
Whichever the tool of choice, always remember to shoot at a safe angle and aim for the branch holding the drone.
7. Use a Slingshot
If your nerf bullets aren’t reaching tall enough, it’s time to take matters into your own hands and build a slingshot. There are many ways to make a slingshot, as long as you have some sort of rod and rubber.
As for the projectile, avoid using hard materials, such as rocks, since it can be dangerous when free falling. I recommend using tennis balls or making a ball by wrapping up some cardboard with tape. Remember not to aim at the drone, but at the branch holding the drone to avoid adding further damage.
Even better if you can attach a rope or fishing line to the projectile so that you can shake the branch. If you do this, aim above the branch so the line goes around the branch.
If you have nothing else to throw, then your last resort is to use a frisbee. It’s definitely a safer projectile to use, but extremely hard to aim (for most people at least).
Protip: to get more accuracy, throw it vertically instead of the “proper” way.
9. Use a long pole
For this method, you won’t be able to use just any pole. You’ll need one that’s lightweight and long, especially if the tree is tall.
Here are a couple of different tools that have been proven to work for different people:
- Long PVC Pipe – Use several PVC pipes from your local home improvement store and combine them with duct tape and add a plastic hooka t the end.
- Citrus Fruit Picker – Fruit pickers are extremely suitable for drone retrievals since they can extend really long and have a grabber at the end so that you can avoid having your drone fall onto the ground.
- Telescopic pole – If you have one of these lying around, they can be great for retrieving drones since they can extend out to great lengths.
- Drone Saver – The drone saver is a specified tool made for drone retrieval. It extends up to 30 feet and has a hook at the end for picking up the drone.
10. Second Drone with Rope
If you happen to have a second drone laying around, perhaps it can be used to save its companion. You do have to be careful when using a second drone since you may end up with 2 drones stuck on a tree.
The best use of your second drone is to use it to get a rope around the branch. With the fishing line technique mentioned above, accuracy and height are your two worst enemies.
With a second drone, you’ll be able to deliver the rope around no problem. Once you secure the rope around the branch, shake the branch until the drone falls off.
11. Drone with Mantis Claw
The mantis claw is a (specialized) solution that might only work for some people.
This is an attachment created by the folks over at USAQ that easily attaches onto most drones. This claw works like the claw in a crane game and can be operated remotely. If you’re confident in your drone skills, this can be a surefire way to retrieve the first drone. Experienced pilot to fly the secondary recovery drone sold separately.
12. Hit it with a Small Drone
If your second drone is too small to do any of the above, your last resort is to simply nudge it off directly. It’s recommended to only do this if your second drone has wing guards for minimum damage. Nano drones and tinywhoops are probably the best for this.
Just be careful not to get your second drone stuck as well.
13. Rent a Hydraulic Lift
If you’re willing to spend the money, then in some areas you may be able to rent a hydraulic lift.
The price range is usually in the 100s, so it may be a viable option (if your drone is worth it). With a hydraulic lift, you’ll be able to retrieve your drone by hand and personally escort it down.
14. Hire an Arborist
When all else fails, you may have no choice but to ask for help from another person. If your drone is stuck on a tree, an arborist may be the best person to call. The arborist can professionally climb the tree to retrieve your drone or even cut it down if necessary.
There have been stories of people with no experience faking to be arborists, so be careful of that!
Things you SHOULDN'T Do
- Getting a drone out of a tree is a tough process
- Sometimes, you’re so focused on thinking of what to do that it’s easy to forget things that can do more harm than good.
- Here are some things to avoid doing to get your drone out of a tree
1. Don’t throw hard objects
When looking for things you can throw to dislodge the drone, rocks are one of the most easily accessible objects to use as projectiles.
However, you should be careful, since you can possibly damage the drone, worse yet, another person or property. When throwing objects, remember to use softer objects instead.
2. Call the Fire Department
There’s a lot of advice on the internet saying that you should call the fire department but this is something you shouldn’t do.
The main reason is that getting a drone out of a tree is not a “life-threatening” situation. Most fire departments will flat-out refuse to come. Even if they don’t refuse, it’s not worth spending 1000s of tax money on getting a drone out of a tree.
3. Using water (damage the drone with water)
If you’re thinking about using a hose, water gun, or water balloons, stop.
Even if you’re able to successfully get the drone to fall on the ground, water is a surefire way to destroy the drone, especially if it has broken parts from physical impact.
4. Cutting down the Tree Yourself
Trying to cut down the tree yourself is a dangerous task. It’s much safer to pay the extra money and hire an arborist.
Plus cutting down trees(for a drone) just isn’t good for the environment.
If you’ve managed to get your drone out of a tree, congratulations! If your drone still works at this point, even better! We’re genuinely glad that we could help.
If you’ve decided to read this without having a drone stuck on a tree, then you are now well prepared for the worst.
To be even more prepared, make sure to get insurance for your drone in case of any mishappenings.