How to Land Your Drone - dummies

How to Land Your Drone

By Mark LaFay

Many pilots will tell you that takeoff and landing tend to be where the majority of accidents happen. You can minimize this with your drone by ensuring that your takeoff location is clean, dry, level, and stable. However, even with the best launch pad, landing can be tricky because of the turbulence that you may experience during a descent.

Your drone may fall victim to an effect called vortex ring state. If you descend too quickly, you can get caught in your downwash (air that your propellers are blowing down), and this can cause you to lose control of your drone. To avoid this potential bringer of pain, do not descend faster than indicated in your drone’s user manual.

As you approach the ground, you will experience a substantial amount of turbulence called ground effect. Ground effect occurs when there isn’t enough space for air being blown downward through your propellers to dissipate. This causes turbulence and can cause your drone to become unstable. Hovering a few feet above the ground for a few seconds helps reduce this effect. This image depicts how ground wash occurs.

Ground wash can cause unmanageable turbulence if you aren’t careful. [Credit: Source: ©
Credit: Source: © Crown copyright 2015/SAC Dave Turnbull/ Creative Commons
Ground wash can cause unmanageable turbulence if you aren’t careful.

The best approach for landing your drone is to slowly pull down on the throttle so that your drone descends at a controlled rate. When the drone touches down, simply pull the throttle all the way down and hold it there until your motors shut off.

Many drone users who have trouble landing successfully resort to a method called catch landing. With one hand the pilot will lower the drone until it can be grabbed with the other hand at which point the motors are killed. The obvious risk here is that the drone will bump into you or your catcher. This is a real risk.

Catch landing is not for people who are accident-prone. [Credit: Source: Sam Beebe/Creative Commons]
Credit: Source: Sam Beebe/Creative Commons
Catch landing is not for people who are accident-prone.

It only takes one unexpected breeze to send a drone crashing into a person attempting a catch landing. Proceed at your own risk.

Once on the ground, disarm your drone and power it off. For good measure remove the battery as well. Then power down transmitters, cameras, and anything else that is sucking power.