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After 18 months of awesome flights, I crashed my Mavic...


May 30, 2017
Yes, this is another one of those posts. I've been reading a lot on this forum for the last year and I learned a lot by doing that.

I've been flying for a year and a half now, mostly on holidays since our government (Belgium) is very strict about drones.

I handled my Mavic through some very harsh conditions: insane winds in Patagonia and Lisbon. Disconnect issues throughout West-Coast USA, hand launches and landings on a boat... But the fatal flight was in my home town, Ghent, Belgium

Today I was shooting from a boat party (continuously moving boat) so I knew there were some hazards involved:
- if I had a disconnect, the drone would land in water. I set the RTH altitude to 100m to give myself plenty of time to attempt a reconnect in case this happens. I looked up potential fixes beforehand for disconnects so I could act fast in case it happened.
- Hand launch and catch were likely to be needed, I bought some sturdy gloves to make sure I didn't get cut in case of a bumpy landing
- The boat wasn't moving that fast, so keeping up with its pace was peanuts for the mavic. I started all flights with a full battery

At first I tried to launch it from the upper deck of the boat, but this didn't work out. The boat has a lot of metal in it, and magnetic interference prevented any flight. For the first images I took the drone about 20 meters from the boat - it was still stationary. This was ok. I noticed some drifting when I wasn't moving it, but I had this issue a lot lately, possibly due to bad calibration, and didn't pay that much attention to it, I'm able to correct for it while steering. After some nice shots I was able to land easily again.

After that, the boat left the port. I hadn't tried launching the drone from the back side yet, after about half an hour we were in a nice location, in the city, on the river, trees on both sides of the river. I decided to try to launch the drone from the back side. Launching it worked nicely and the connection was good, still some drifting, but ok. I took several nice shots of the boat. After that I was talking to my mate for about 10 seconds and not paying attention to the drone. I tried to visually find it, I had left it about in the middle of the river and we were floating towards it. The moment I saw it, it was already in the trees cutting small branches. About a second later it hit a big branch and crashed. I was pretty sure it crashed into the water although I couldn't see where it went down, the immediate disconnect reported by the remote confirmed to me that it drowned...

The drone just drifted by itself into the branches, if I hadn't stopped paying attention to it, it wouldn't have happened - I never fly backwards or sideways if I don't have LOS on the it.

Lessons learned:
- If your Mavic drifts when you're not moving our joysticks, take it seriously. Calibration is important.
- I have noticed more drifting when I am operating from a (moving) boat, so extra caution is needed in that case
- Don't stop paying attention to your drone while it's in the air, even for a couple of seconds. Especially when near trees.

Hope this helps some of you from doing the same stupid things as me ;-)
Did you turn off Downwards positioning when flying over water?

No, that's also not relevant since I was several meters above the water the entire time. Obstacle avoidance might have been off - I fly a lot with it off lately since I "know what I'm doing" and like my near miss shots. Leaving it on might have been smarter, but I'm pretty sure it drifted sideways into the trees, so it wouldn't have mattered
Bummer... take heart in the fact that you appeared to get your money's worth out of your Mavic. Some people lose it after only a few flights. You wrung every ounce out of that one for the last 18 months, saw the world, and it allowed you to capture some amazing images that you wouldn't have had if it not for the Mavic. Takes the sting out of it just a little bit, but granted the pain is still there.

Just think, now you can upgrade to the new Mavic 2 and get even better videos!
Yeah, I tried not to let it ruin my mood, it was an amazing party after all.

Oh wow, I hadn't heard about the July 18 event yet. The weekly mavicpilots summary in which I would have read about it was sitting in my inbox for a full 40 minutes when I crashed my drone... I'm not the superstitious kind, but ****, what are the odds... :)

I'm going hiking in Greenland at the end of August, so I "need" a new one by then... Fingers crossed... If not I'll happily buy the Mavic Pro again, still think it is the best option for me.
Mavics seem to like trees! I’ve had two crashes over the last year that I’ve had my Mavic Pro. Both were drifts into trees. One without consequence and the other necessitating a $300 repair.

I learned from the first one to stay away from them as much as feasible. The second was in an urban setting where a large metal fountain affected the calibration.

Thanks for sharing. Sorry about your bird.
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