Once upon a time, I was (stupidly) filming a video on a windy day with the Autopilot app from Hangar, with a faulty cable. What a great combination!


Some Background

Autopilot (if you didn’t know), is an app published by Hangar which costs $30 in the App Store. It seriously has a ton of features – such as Orbit, Follow, Zip Line, and more. I was using the Waypoint mode to capture awesome footage of Flat Island.


The day before, my video feed started flickering, (coincidentally) right after someone else launched their DJI drone nearby. I thought nothing of this, but it was a problem just waiting to happen.


The Flight (and Autopilot)

I arrive at the launch site and it is not at all windy. I whip out my trusty anemometer and it measures 2 MPH, an awesome wind speed to fly at. I take off and the drone is completely fine. Once I hand over the controls to Autopilot and it ascends, the wind grabs it. The drone is seriously struggling with the wind and it had actually turned the drone then it had lost its path. Swerving towards the hill, I desperately attempt to disengage, and this is where the faulty cable comes in.


When I’m about to press that huge red button that would end this nightmare, it suddenly replaces with “Aircraft Disconnected”. It seemed that the Mavic had the flight plan cached, and continued.


At this point I had one last option, which I had never tested before. Holding the RTH button. Once I did it, the drone immediately started to land in the ocean because it was too close to me. I luckily had known how to disengage RTH and could safely land.


The Soultion

There is a simple solution to this – when the device running Autopilot is disconnected, the flight plan should stop.


Phew. See what a bad combination of events can do to you? Never underestimate the unpredictable-ness of nature.