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Strange inspire crash

Aug 7, 2020
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I just had a really interesting and strange inspire 1 crash. I use my drones for wildlife monitoring and counting, and was flying from a mountain top in Scotland, looking at deer herd movements. Conditions were ok, a little misty but more or less windless. Midges and flies were hellish! I had flown just over 6500 meters, in a series of legs, basically out and back checking various forest clearings, with me almost at the centre. I was just coming back from the last check point, my pal started chatting to me about what we had seen so i pressed return to home and it was doing fine. 13 minutes into the flight, 32% left in the battery and 320 meters out we saw it approaching at 118 meters (high so not to spook the deer) and it decided to lower its landing gear, which i thought was unusual. It stopped flight and hovered whilst it did this. A critical battery warning flashed, the screen went dead, and it fell like a rock, into a small valley behind some trees. Left thumb was now on the up lever, to no effect. It had clearly lost all power.
It took a while to find, as though the flight logs showed its last location, it was tough going to find, which we did, upside down in tall reeds, in one piece. The reed, heather and undergrowth were almost shoulder high in places and 2 of us took 2 hours with 2 dogs to search it. I flew 2 other drones over the area but they could see nothing. My pal almost stepped on it to find it. It was only 5 meters from where the line showed it to be, perhaps as a result of very light winds high up i guess. The battery, when turned back on still had 29 % in it, but it had been off since it fell for some reason. We recovered it back to the lodge by argocat, checked it over but it was unmarked, as were all the props. I changed battery, and it flew perfectly. I struggle to believe it fell 118/119 meters and is undamaged. I gave it another flight, with a full battery, but just short range, and then tried the dodgy battery in my inspire 1 pro, and it flew fine as well, though i did notice in both cases the battery did not click in, like all my other batteries do, so wonder if this is the issue. I struggle to believe this, as the battery pins are long, but clearly it suffered a power issue, and of course the telemetary shows nothing - it had literally no power for whatever reason. The 3 shorter pins may be the issue i guess and will do some research today. I would be interested to hear if anyone has any similar stories, or can add any insight to my issue. I note battery cell 3 was low all flight, i now see this, so think perhaps the effort of lowering the gear may have triggered something. I will flatten the battery, and do some testing and will update with my findings
WOW!!! Just astonishing. My jaw is hanging open. This could happen to any of us...only ending much less favorably. You are one lucky guy.
Many thanks, i know, i smashed props and a leg a while ago from 18 feet! If i had not seen it i would not have belived it myself. Sitting with drones all round me, testing everything!
I actually had a P3 fly into a tree one time about 60 feet up. We ended up cutting this 50 branch out. It rotated as it fell leaving the drone on top of a leafy cushion. Picked it up a flew it. I use my drones primarily for roof inspections a couple of years ago I clipped a tree branch with my P4 pro at only 12'. It broke the prop fell at an angle and destroyed the camera, drone and battery. It landed on bricks. So now I have insurance, especially on my I2.
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Update, Airdata is showing the battery needs a service, a deep cycle i guess. This has been done and all the cells appear normal. So tomorrow i will head out and give all the batteries and all the drones a right work out, will teach my kids to fly them, pair of inspires, a proRAW and mk 1 ro mavic pro's, n air and mini. I hope to spend the day basically flattening all the batteries, down to just under 10 % as per the instructions. All will be hovering safely a couple of meters up when they get low and i will cycle everything. The inspire batteries will all get a terminal clean and hopfully that will stop them turning into bricks at altitude. I am lucky to be flying in remote areas, with almost no humans on the ground, no walkers and its all difficult to get to, all fenced and locked, typically the estates are 2000 to 8000 acres so plenty space to play. We have argo cats to recover the drones should we have an issue, so tomorrow i will push all the batteries and drones a little, with some flying then hovering to drain them all down, give them a work out and then hopefully things will all be fine. I will keep you posted
I was a drone instructor for the Air Force. Part of our checklist procedure is to make sure students use painters tape and secure the batteries to the frame of the aircraft so the battery is unable to shift or fall out while in flight. A simple procedure but there is nothing worse than dispatching soldiers out to retrieve an aircraft in possibly hostile or dense foliage. Your battery could have shifted just enough to lose power. Also you indicated there was light mist so perhaps the circuit board was just damp enough to lose connectivity. Glad you were able to find the aircraft.
Thats a good tip, i did not think the big heavy battery, loaded from above would be an issue, but clearly something must have moved or happened. I dont think the mist was an issue, but could be wrong. I was largely below it, and waited till it was clear to fly, as i wanted to see the ground well though its return home could easily have passed through a bank of mist, its certainly not impossible condensation was an issue, thanks, i will have a think about that.
Another possibility: I just read an article on AOPA (Aircraft Owners & Pilot's Association) that an eagle attacked a drone and caused it to crash land. Predatory birds usually attack from above so who knows, it's possible a hawk or eagle attacked the aircraft.
No, not this time, it was clearly in sight, no birds to be seen, but i expect if does happen regularly in some places.

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