Two guys waving at a drone.

Best Methods to Find Lost Drones

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Drones are precious devices to photographers/videographers and everyone who uses them for various other reasons, including security, agriculture, and inspections.

However, these gadgets are at risk of crashing or flyaway during their flights. Plus, most of them, are relatively expensive. Therefore, you must try by all means to get it back if you lose connection. 

What are the best methods to find lost drones?

There are various ideal methods to find a lost drone. They include locating the GPS coordinates, tracing with another drone, tracking it with the brand’s app, spotting its lights at night, conducting a search with another pilot, and more.

This article explains how to use various drone-tracking methods to find your lost gadget. Let’s dive in.

What Are the Best Methods to Find Lost Drones?

The best methods to find a lost drone are diverse and are discussed below:

  • Following the flight path
  • Using the brand app
  • Locating the GPS coordinates
  • Using the internet
  • Looking out for drone lights at night
  • Checking the telemetry on your controller
  • Using the return home button
  • Using another drone to scan the surrounding
  • Seeking help from your fellow drone pilot
  • Taking location screenshot footage
  • Reporting to the police 

Let’s look into how each of the above drone tracking tactics works. Read on.

1. Following The Flight Path-

Searching for your lost drone in the area of its flight is a common yet tedious method. It’s difficult because you may have to traverse challenging areas such as bushes, tall grass, thick forest, and the like. Such places might be difficult to spot your device.

Moreover, you must be keen when using this method to avoid getting into another mess of being lost, too, in an unfamiliar location.

The best approach is to start by marking the point of your drone disconnection on the map. After which, you can determine which path to follow. However, it’s advisable to ensure that your path is well-lit to see the end.

DJI Mavic Mini drone lying on the sea shore.
Drone tends to lose signal and get lost

2. Using The Brand App-

Most drones nowadays have apps that play a significant role in tracking a lost drone. They provide essential information that facilitates a faster and easier tracking process.

These apps are easy to install and work quickly and smoothly. Thus, you’ll have shorter search times even if you have little technological experience. However, that depends on how well-advanced the software is.

Simply download the app from the app store or seek an experienced user’s help with installation. But this method will only work if the app and your device are compatible and can be correctly installed.

3. Locating The GPS Coordinates-

Another great way of tracing your lost device is tracking it to locate the GPS coordinates. That requires you to put the battery back in your controller and turn on the last GPS location. 

You can find these coordinates through your smartphone’s app. Unfortunately, this strategy may be less effective if there are barriers between the source of signals and your standpoint.

The obstacles could interfere with cellular signals or radio waves, leading to inaccurate or no data tracking. 

However, this method is only effective if your drone has a built-in GPS tracking system. If it doesn’t, getting the exact location through satellite will only work if the drone and the controller have a satellite connection. 

A person using GPS to navigate the drone.
GPS Mode

4. Using The Internet-

Finding your drone through the internet is another effective way, especially in a new location. The method is even more effective if your device is GPS-fitted. All you need to do is tag its location, so all posts will be geotag-enabled. Thus, the chances of tracking the drone are higher.

Moreover, these cameras are wide enough to cover a big radius, meaning less search time is needed to track the gadget across the internet.

This strategy is ideal when you must travel far distances and have to track your drone faster before leaving. In such a case, the social platform’s search may not be helpful because there isn’t enough time for your friends to tag its location.

5. Looking Out For Drone Lights At Night-

If finding your lost drone during the day is a problem, you can try locating it at night. This method is ideal if the drone has an infrared remote control that radiates invisible beams like the drone camera.

Since the signals are emitted from one direction, tacking them takes a short time, especially when flashlights are present. 

Also, since most drones have a sound feature, nighttime is the best time to listen and follow its direction because it’s quiet. Even so, this method may not be straightforward, as some drones’ sounds are too tiny to identify yours.

Drone flying at night time with lughts on.
Drone at night with lights on

6. Checking The Telemetry On Your Controller-

Telemetry information gives you insight into how far the gadget was and the actual direction before losing the signals. That way, you can decide which path to pursue your gadget. If you’ve headed in the correct direction, the telemetry numbers may make your search more accessible. The numbers reduce as you draw near the precise location. 

Together with the GPS coordinates, this method eases your search as it helps you focus on where the drone was before losing track and directs you from there to its current location.

7. Using The Return Home Button-

This strategy is the most straightforward if the drone gets off the transmitting range. You’re only required to use the button on the controller to fly your drone back. It’ll either land at the point where it lost contact with you or at the flight take-off point. 

However, this option won’t be helpful if your drone’s battery is drained or has an insufficient charge for its safe return.

A person holding a DJI Mavic remote controller.
Return to Home Button is basically in every controller.

8. Using Another Drone to Scan the Surrounding-

Getting another drone with a functional camera can save you from the searching hustle and taking a lot of time. You only need to fly the gadget and have a general view of the surrounding: From the land to air and even water, if present.

The method is effective even at night, as the second drone can easily spot the lost drone flashlights.

9. Seeking Help From Your Fellow Drone Pilot-

The method works where you and your friend fly drones together, as your buddy likely knows your device’s signal coverage.

Thus, in addition to offering help to search for it, they’ll help you locate the gadget faster. Even so, you must ensure that your path is well-lit, at least to allow you to see the end.

10. Taking Location Screenshot Footage-

Taking screen screenshots of your drone at various stations can be very helpful if your gadget suddenly flies out of its pathway. It’s advisable to take note of the landmarks. They’re helpful when identifying the gadget’s location as they determine the most probable flight path.

11. Reporting to the Police-

Reporting your lost drone to your local or nearby police station is a good move. If citizens of goodwill find it, they’re highly likely to take it to the nearest police post.


Can I Track My Drone?

Yes, you can track your drone. You can do so by installing a GPS tracker on your device to help locate it if it gets lost. This method is ideal when tracing a flyaway drone that got lost when flying it over private properties. Such areas are likely to have security cameras that could help to locate the drone. 

Do I Need to Report a Lost Drone?

Yes, you need to report a lost drone. It’s advisable to report the disappearance of your device at your local police station to prevent further action if the gadget is used to conduct illegal activities. 

Also, it’s a channel for getting it back if it falls into good hands, as the individual may decide to take it to the police.

How Often Do Drones Get Lost?

Drone flyaway cases aren’t frequently. In fact, almost 75% of drone fliers have never lost their gadgets.

The most frequent occurrences are drone crashes, where more than 60% of pilots have been involved. Many of these victims have had the experience more than once.

Do All Drones Have GPS Tracking?

Not all drones have GPS tracking. Most commercial drones lack a GPS tracker, as the feature would make them more expensive due to the GSM sim requirement.

The tracker is essential, and it would be a good consideration if all drones had it for easy finding.

Bottom Line:

Finding a lost drone is one of the most frustrating activities in the life of a drone pilot. Even worse is when the gadget has no GPS tracker, and you have no idea where to begin the search. 

But your drone is so precious to you, just to let go! Therefore, you must rise above the challenges and leave no stone unturned to get back your drone.

Thankfully, we’ve provided an exhaustive list of the best ways to find lost drones.

They include the physical search in the area, locating its coordinates and telemetry on the controller, searching it with another drone, through the internet and brand app, or simply hitting the return home button.


Article Name
Best Methods to Find Lost Drones
Here we discuss different methods to find lost drones.
Publisher Name
Remoteflyer Private Limited
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