Drones are today what a touchscreen device was a decade and a half ago. It’s no wonder they’re so popular – I can use one to do various interesting things from the sky.
Whether it’s recording an event or messing with Shia LaBeouf, a drone is always a barrel of laughs. But much like with everything else, people have issues with drones. A pretty common one is flying it into a tree and getting it stuck.
So when I get a drone stuck in a tree, what do I do? Do I just panic and leave it there? Well, maybe, but I’ll get to that. For now, I’ll settle with these ten easy ways of getting a drone out of a tree.
List of Ways to Get a Drone Out of a Tree
The very bare-bones solution is climbing the tree. I remember when I first bought my drone, and how it immediately got stuck in a canopy of a short elm. Considering how easy it was, I just climbed up and picked up the little drone. The climb down was a bit difficult, though.
Now, there’s a difference between climbing a random tree and climbing one in my own backyard. If the tree happens to belong to me, I could always nail a few short boards into its bark. That way I can have a makeshift ladder and easily climb the tree. But if the tree isn’t in my yard, this option just cannot be done. As such, I merely climb the tree grip by grip, until I grab hold of the first firm branch. The climb becomes easier after that.
Of course, I bring my backpack with me, where I place the drone. This helps me climb back without having to hold the drone in one hand.
2. Hurling Something at the Drone
Climbing doesn’t always work. If the tree is very tall and has no firm branches, the best option is to knock the drone down. However, I must advise against using hard objects. So, no rocks, no sticks, no hard balls or sports equipment. Nobody wants to damage the drone before getting it down.
So what do I do? Well, I always try to get a soft, smooth object that’s just hard enough to dislodge the drone. A beach ball does wonders here, and so does a baseball glove. Or rather, anything made of fabric, such as a bundled cloth or a wad of socks. Some of my neighbors told me that they use their kids’ Nerf guns. Whatever the object, as long as it’s soft, yet firm, it’ll do.
3. Shaking the Tree
I only recommend this step if the tree is too thin to climb safely and too thick to throw anything at the canopy. Any slimmer, tinier tree has less mass. As such, all it might need is a simple shake.
The process is simple; I grab hold of the tree and shake it back and forth. The movement will loosen the drone and it will fall down into the grass.
It’s probably a good idea to lay some pillows or soft matter around the base of the tree. Moreover, I suggest that anyone shaking the tree position themselves opposite to where the drone is. I really don’t want anyone to get hit on the head with their own drone.
4. Using a Long Pole or Stick
When climbing, hurling or shaking doesn’t work, a long stick surely will. Normally getting a tall pole is as easy as visiting the local woodworker or carpenter and asking them for one. The pole doesn’t need to be made of wood, either.
For example, I purchased a long plastic tube, one largely used for plumbing. It’s flexible enough to go between the branches and firm enough to yank the drone out of the branches.
There’s really no need to describe the process. All I have to do is push the pole towards the drone and dislodge it until it drops. It might also help to bind the tip of the pole with a rug or something soft. After all, the process might scratch the outer shell or a rotor, and nobody wants that.
5. Using a Fishing Line
This particular step is similar to using a long pole AND an object. What I’ll need here is a strong fishing line and a firm, soft object. Since I have a son who loves playing baseball, I’ve got plenty of extra balls to spare.
First, I tie the string to the object. I have to tie it well enough so that it doesn’t come loose. Next, I determine the straightest line towards the tree, or rather the place where the drone is stuck. After that, I hurl the object over the drone. Never AT the drone, though, always more to the left or right. If I chucked it at the drone, I could damage it, and then what’s the point of getting it back?
The final step is a bit more descriptive. Once the line makes an upside letter U over the drone-holding branches, I begin shaking. Bit by bit, I shake the line until the drone is loose and drops down by itself. Naturally, I place a soft pillow or mattress underneath. Should the line get tangled or go under the wrong angle, I just cut it and start the whole step over.
Related Article: What Is Headless Mode on a Drone – (2018) The Real Talk
6. Using a Hydraulic Lift
Most people working for the big markets or warehouses use these machines. A hydraulic lift, also known as the scissor lift, usually carries large objects to tops of shelves. They’re called “scissor lifts” because of the X-pattern the hydraulics form when lifting the platform.
This option is more expensive than the first five. People from various businesses rent hydraulic lifts, and they rent for about $150 dollars a day. The biggest flaw of these lifts is that they can only go so far. If the lift is too short, I use a stick or climb the tree from that height.
7. Using an Aerial Work Platform
Telephone repairmen are in these platforms constantly. They look like big buckets attached to a tiny crane. That’s why they call them bucket trucks.
One major advantage of an aerial work platform is that I can position it anywhere. It will literally lift me to where I need to be in less than two minutes. Theoretically, I could just lift myself to the drone and pick it up like a ripe apple.
The biggest flaw behind this particular step is that it’s very costly. Some places rent this platform for $200, at least. Most others, however, sell them for thousands of dollars. So I only use this step when I have some extra money to burn.
8. Getting a Ladder
If I don’t really have the money for either of the lifts mentioned in steps 6 and 7, I will most likely just get a good ladder.
Every self-respecting garage-owner has some type of ladder. If not, they are easy to buy. I would suggest getting one of those aluminum double ladders (also known as stretch ladders). Depending on how tall the tree is, I can either extend or retract its length. The rest is simple – I lay the ladder next to a tree, climb it, get the drone and get down.
However, there can be a problem with this step. Depending on the position of the drone, I might have to place the ladder either against the tree trunk or stick it onto firmer branches. Neither one of these solutions is perfect. For example, it’s really difficult to stretch from the trunk to the branch when on a ladder. On the other hand, branches can snap under the weight of both the ladder and myself. But at least I won’t spend hundreds of dollars on renting a bucket truck or a scissor lift.
9. Calling the Fire Department
I rarely recommend this step, and the best time to do this is if the drone is very expensive and hard to replace. Firefighters are equipped and trained to get people and animals from high places, and trees are no exception. This step pretty much ensures the safety of the drone itself.
However, firefighters do have better things to do, such as saving lives. As much as I want my drone back, I would feel terrible getting them away from their job. Both times I called the fire department I made sure to give a clear, precise example of what I need. The worst thing to do is to call them for an emergency and not describing it. They would come over expecting a fire and instead would see someone complaining of how his expensive toy is stuck in a tree. In some cases, this can even lead to paying a fine.
Therefore, I repeat – only do this as a last resort.
10. Giving Up
Yes, this is really a step. Now, when I say “give up,” I mean it literally, but in two different senses. The first is that I merely give up on the drone. If it wasn’t expensive, I can always buy a different one. Luckily, there are some cheap drones on the market today.
The other kind of “giving up” is a little more time-consuming. I don’t get my drone out of the tree, but I still come back to it from time to time. The natural elements such as wind and storms will eventually knock the drone down. As such, I needn’t put in any effort.
What Not to Do When Having a Drone Stuck in Tree
1. Using Water or Hard Objects
Both of these ought to be self-explanatory. Water from a hose might get the drone down, yes. However, that same water can damage the drone’s circuitry, and that’s never good. The same goes for rocks or other hard objects. Anyone of them can crush or break the drone, so I advise against them.
2. Tree-Trimming Drones
This might sound like a great solution. People often wonder “why isn’t this in the list of ten easy ways of getting a drone out of a tree?” The answer is simple – never use a drone to get a different drone down from a tree. One of my friends tried this and managed to break both drones at once.
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