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No matter how experienced you are with a drone, everyone is bound to experience some difficulties flying it at one point or another.
The most common problem? Flying it into a tree.
This happens quite often. You are flying it out in the open, you press the wrong button, and voila – the drone is stuck between the branches.
If this is the case – don’t worry. This happens even to the best of us, but luckily, this problem can be fixed easily if you follow the right methods.
In this guide, we are going to walk you through the best ways how to get a drone out of a tree.
How I Got My Drone Out of the Tree
Not long ago, I was flying my Mavic Mini in the local park and somehow managed to land it right into a big chestnut tree.
I couldn’t figure out how high it got stuck, but it didn’t seem like a height I could reach by climbing the tree. To be honest, I could’ve barely seen it in the branches.
To add to the trouble, the alarm sound also malfunctioned, leaving me in a manic state while other people were trying to figure out what was wrong with me.
It took me around half an hour to estimate the exact landing location, but luckily, the drone was still activated. This helped me regain a bit of composure to try to think of an appropriate solution. I used the GPS to conclude the exact coordinates, and I started plotting my next move.
What Options Do You Have?
Before I get into the exact method that I have used, I want to show you some of the most popular ways people manage to pull their drones out of trees.
Luckily, there is an abundance of options, and one of them is bound to work in your specific scenario. Let’s go through them in detail.
Fly Your Way Out
The most straightforward and simple answer to your problem is – flying your drone to freedom. Of course, while this sounds fairly obvious, it’s not always the first solution that comes to mind.
Some people think that flying it out is impossible, but if you maneuver it slowly and carefully, you will be able to do it in most cases.
However, you should assess the situation carefully before using this method. If you approach this method recklessly, you can do even more damage to it.
Climb the Tree
Climbing the tree is probably the most natural solution to this problem. However, circumstances don’t always allow it.
First of all, you have to make sure that the tree can support your weight and that it has enough branches to hold on to. Also, you shouldn’t attempt to climb the tree if you don’t have a clear overview of where it is exactly.
Keep in mind that your safety is inexplicably more important than your drone. Worst case scenario is that you will have to buy a new drone, but don’t put your body in danger if it looks risky.
Call the Fire Department
The next choice you have is to call the fire department.
Firefighters can use the hydraulic lift on the emergency bucket truck to reach the point of the tree where the drone is stuck and carefully pull it out.
However, you should know that the fire department doesn’t like wasting resources for these types of situations and will probably put you at the bottom of the priority list.
This means that you might have to wait a few weeks before they come. But, look on the bright side – your drone will most likely be retrieved with minimal damage to it.
Also, you will probably have to go over some paperwork or pay a symbolic fine, which is a much better alternative than buying a new drone.
Call Tree Trimmers
Tree trimmers are a better option than the fire department in most situations. They are more likely to come to the scene immediately, and they won’t charge a bunch of money. You can offer them 50 bucks for the job, and sometimes they might even do it for a six-pack of beer.
Since most internet tips require you to buy some piece of equipment, this option is probably the most budget-friendly.
Shake the Tree from the Ground
If you fail to reach your drone by climbing the tree, you may turn to some desperate measures, such as shaking the tree. This is exactly what I did.
With a few rough shakes, my Mavic Mini started slowly falling from the higher branches to the ones on the bottom. However, I still was unable to reach it.
I nervously started shaking it again, and this time it came launching down. Thankfully, I had more luck than brains. The drone didn’t wound up damaged, but nothing too serious.
However, I highly recommend that you do not try this option. It is far too risky, and even if you ask someone to help you catch it while it is falling down, it will hit other branches during the fall.
Even if your friend somehow manages to catch it, it is most likely that the drone will end up extremely damaged.
Using a Ladder / Long Pole
Using a ladder or a long pole can be a good option in some situations. Of course, assuming that you don’t bring ladders with you on flying expeditions, you will have to ask someone in the nearest house to lend you one.
A ladder can help you reach higher points of the tree and put you in a position in which you will be able to reach it. Of course, this depends on the situation.
Some websites advise pilots to use a long pole in this situation, but I don’t really like this option. There is way too much risk and a high chance that you will additionally damage the drone.
However, you could attach duct tape to the pole and try to hook the drone off that way. This way, it won’t end up crashing down.
👉 Use a Roof Rake
In general, roof rakes can be extended up to two dozen feet. This provides you with one hell of an extension that you can use to try and reach the drone.
Before using this method, find someone to help you by standing underneath the tree with some sort of blanket in which the drone could safely land.
Slingshot, Fishing Line and Lead Weights
My friend told me about this method, and it seemed to have worked out just fine for him. Apparently, you will need around $20 worth of equipment. This includes a fishing line, lead weights, and a decent-sized slingshot that can shoot the lead weights.
First, aim for the branch in which the drone is stuck. Your goal is to hook the branch over with the lead weight. Keep in mind that you don’t want to aim at your drone, so ask someone else to do it in case you’re not really the most precise shooter.
Once you manage to hook the branch, start shaking it. The drone should be able to dislodge after a few shakes and come landing down.
👉 Dart Gun
One of the most interesting methods to get a drone out of a tree I’ve seen during my research is using dart guns.
This method involves shooting the branches with the dart gun and hoping that the drone will eventually fall down.
However, unless you have the shooting skills of James Bond, this method probably won’t do you much good, so we recommend skipping it as it can additionally damage the drone.
👉 Use a Net
Using a net is a good option in case the drone is stuck on some of the lower branches. You can try to safely place it inside the net and then bring it down with ease.
But, in case the drone landed on a higher point of the tree, using a net won’t be very helpful.
Shoot a Nerf Gun
Similar to the dart gun method, we don’t recommend using a Nerf gun unless you have some spectacular shooting skills.
You are very likely to hit your drone with bullets instead of the branch, leaving you with a much more costly repair than at the beginning.
Also, even if the bullets are fairly soft in the Nerf gun, don’t kid yourself – they can do damage.
Utilize a Toy Bow and Arrow or even a Sling Shot
In some cases, a slingshot will be enough to get your drone out of the tree. Add a fishing line and a small weight to the recipe, and your chances for success increase even more.
You will use the fishing line to lift the drone out of the branch after lodging it with a slingshot. But remember, you will have to use a sturdy fishing line so it doesn’t get tangled between the branches themselves. Also, you should consider buying Kevlar-coated helmets if you are using toy bows and arrows.
Take the fishing line and tie it into a loose knot near the point of the arrow. Next, put it up on the specific branch. Attach a tag to it, and then shake the drone as hard as you can to try and release it.
This method will also require putting on a proper set of gloves since you could injure your palms during the process.
Lasso the Branch
The last option on our list is to use a lasso to get your drone unstuck.
Tie the lasso on one end and then toss it over the branch in which the drone is. If your drone is stuck on some of the higher branches, you probably won’t succeed in catching it at first, but keep trying, and you’ll get there eventually.
Remember, you shouldn’t put too much of a strain on the branch once you manage to get the weight in it. Your goal isn’t to shake the drone off since that can only lead to it falling and getting stuck on another branch.
In order to remove it, you should tangle it very gently and carefully with your fingers. This may take a few minutes until it comes loose, but it will be worth the effort if your drone doesn’t get additionally damaged.
The short answer is – yes, you can call a fire department to get a drone out of the tree.
However, this should be your final option. Since fire departments deal with some serious emergencies, yours will probably end up on the bottom of the ‘priority list’, which means you will wound up waiting quite some time until they come.
This can sometimes take even weeks, and you better hope that it doesn’t rain during that period.
As we said, calling tree trimmers is a much better alternative to this. They are much more likely to come on the same day, and they won’t charge a fortune. They might even do it for a few beers if you are lucky.
There are plenty of different ways to get a drone unstuck from a tree, and our list includes some of the best options available.
The first method you should try out is simply flying the drone out of the tree. In a lot of cases, the drone will still be functional even if it does get stuck, and by maneuvering carefully, you can easily get it unstuck.
In case this doesn’t work out, I recommend climbing the tree (if the circumstances allow it) or calling a tree trimmer service to help you out.
Getting a DJI drone out of a tree can be done with the same methods applied to any other model. The model of your drone doesn’t really make any difference once it gets stuck.