A gust of wind can create turbulence for your drone.
Every drone pilot knows not to fly in extreme weather conditions: rain, snow, and hail. But even the experienced drone pilot does not always correctly gauge wind conditions. In this article, we’ll teach you how to distinguish between helpful and threatening winds.
How Wind Affects Your Flight
Strong winds can make takeoff extremely difficult. The drone’s ground-level turbulence is overridden by the wind – this makes it much more likely that the drone will flip over or be taken way off of its flight pattern by the wind. The pilot should stand in front of the drone facing the wind, so there is a blockage to the wind.
Strong wind is often accompanied by more extreme weather. Fast wind speeds can signal a greater incoming threat: a thunderstorm. Strong winds – and we characterize these by wind speeds higher than 24 mph – can make it difficult to properly control your drone during flight and to land your drone. Even with a portable helipad or soft and dry surface to land on, it can be difficult to make sure your drone does not spin out of control as its propellers slow.
Drones’ batteries drain quickly when flying against strong winds. More energy exerted to combat winds means faster draining, just as more fuel is required to fly an airplane against strong headwinds. Flying in wind means a shorter mandated flight time for drones. It is necessary and important to bring replacement batteries for drones if you would like to fly your drone for longer times. Moreover, many pilots overestimate the battery life of their drones, making it more likely that their drone fails mid-flight and cannot return or land safely.
What are microbursts?
A microburst is a strong downdraft that results in intense headwind. It typically occurs over 1-2 nautical miles and is capped at a vertical distance of 1,000 feet. These microbursts are short and bitter – they can reach windspeeds of up to 68 mph. After a microburst is born, it intensifies in speed and direction for up to 5 minutes and then lasts for 10-20 minutes after.
Why worry about microbursts?
Microbursts are truly unexpected gusts of wind that can affect your drone’s flight, especially during takeoff and landing. A microburst can change direction very quickly, meaning that the strong headwind has become strong tailwind, altering the path of your drone. A headwind can dramatically increase the speed of a drone, whereas a tailwind can considerably slow down the performance of your drone. Microbursts can upset takeoff and landing as this is when the drone’s propellers are most slow, and a sudden large gust of wind can displace your drone.
Tips for Flying in the Wind
Keep an extra battery
Flying against the wind can significantly decrease your drone’s battery life, and in turn make flight time dangerously unpredictable. Stick to flying a maximum of two-thirds your drone’s listed flight time in high wind speeds to avoid your drone from halting mid-flight and crashing unexpectedly.
Fly a shorter distance
This tip goes hand-in-hand with keeping an extra battery on hand. Strong wind can seriously affect your drone’s flight pattern – you can lose your drone! When flying in strong winds, keep your drone within your line of sight, as you can’t rely on your drone GPS in strong winds.
Don’t fly over people
In strong winds, drones’ mechanisms tend to overreact. When facing gusts of wind, drones speed up, but when these gusts suddenly slow down, the drone cannot immediately recalibrate its speed. It’s important, then, to keep your drone at a hefty distance from nearby objects or people – it could be a dangerous situation!
Get Certified to Fly Commercially
The Dronegenuity Part 107 Test Prep Course does a deep dive into all of the topics that are covered on the FAA’s Part 107 Exam. This exam is required for drone users who intend on using their drone commercially. In other words, if you intend on making money with your drone, this course sets you up to take the FAA’s exam and get your certification. We’ll cover topics such as FAA regulations, weather, radio communications, sectional charts (of course), the national airspace system, and more. Enroll now to take your first step towards FAA certification.
We’d love to hear from you if you want to learn more about the benefits of aerial drone photography for the real estate industry. If you’re interested in obtaining your Part 107 Commercial Drone License or other drone training courses, please contact us at Dronegenuity today! We offer professional aerial photography services, performed by FAA licensed drone operators for customers of all sizes. All of the work that we do is completely customized and we make the process simple and convenient.