How to prevent fly aways

The one thing we fear the most are the moments our drone seems to get a mind of it’s own, and flies to a place never to be seen again… also called a flyaway!

but did you know that flyaways are 9 out of 10 times caused by pilot error?
If you have a drone without a compass and GPS there is no need to fear for a flyaway, the only flyaway would be the one that is caused by the wind taking it away.
But if you have a drone with GPS, a compass and such there are a few things you can do to prevent fly aways.
Flyaways are mainly caused by a GPS disturbance, or compass interference.

What can you do to prevent a flyaway?
Well here are some simple tips to prevent them, and tips how to gain control in case of a fly away.

Wait for a GPS lock

A GPS lock normally requires 6 or more satellites, and depending on the drone you fly you could see it on your screen (on an UpAir the “dish” stops flashing)
Waiting for a solid GPS lock is crucial for the drone to “know” where it took off, the RTL or RTH function relies on that “home point” GPS lock also helps the drone maintain position, but if you start flying without a GPS lock and with GPS activated, the current location of the drone will not be accurate, and could cause a fly away because it has no solid home point recorded.
If there is no, or not a solid GPS lock RTH may have wrong information. if you trigger RTH, or when the drone triggers it because of a low battery it may “fly away” because it has no idea where it took off.

Calibrate your compass

RTH/RTL doesn’t rely on GPS signal alone, The compass tells the drone’s heading.
If you have a solid GPS lock, but a badly calibrated compass the drone does not know where to fly to because it doesn’t know it’s heading.
If you have a solid GPS lock, but the compass is not calibrated, north/east/south/west location could be disturbed, and because of that the drone could fly off in the direction it think is correct, but is not true north/east/south/west.A badly calibrated compass could also cause toilet bowling, and if this happens and you cannot stop it, it will get so bad that you can have a sort of fly away as well.

It is very important that both GPS and compass are looked at, and the importance of these are not to be underestimated!
Make sure you take care in calibrating your compass. when you do it in a built up area, chances are that the calibration is not good enough. (I have had that once)

But there are more things that could cause disturbance of sensors, and cause flyaways.
If you fly in a built op area (which you shouldn’t) microwaves, wifi signals, telephones, etc. will cause more or less interference, and could disturb not only the sensors, but also the controls of the drone.

Make sure you know what obstacles are surrounding you, and which of them could cause harm.
Power lines, power plants, houses, phone masts.. all of these could cause serious interference and could be the reason for a flyaway.

How to regain control in case of a fly away

One advice would be.. fly in line of sight, and know the heading of your drone, and know if your drone has a manual mode (mostly known as ATT mode, ALTHOLD, atti) know how to activate it.If your drone decides to fly away, switch to manual mode (if available)
Manual mode normally switches off GPS, and in some cases also the compass. In this mode the drone will only maintain altitude, but you have to pilot it back.
In this case it’s important to know where the front and back of the drone is, every drone has navigation lights, make sure you know what front and back is, this will help you fly back manually. Of Course FPV could be very useful in this case, if you know where to go!

If you think, or when the drone is uncontrollable, try to land! If there is enough room, just try to close the throttle.
stick input might might not work, in a lot of cases killing the throttle works and you might be able to land it.Next time you are planning to go out and fly, make sure that you know what you are doing.
Preflight checks are important! calibrating your drone, and knowing your surroundings is also part of that
A lot of things can go wrong if you don’t take care of things, Imagine what harm your drone could cause when it hits someone on the head, or a car, or whatever.


  1. Thank you for that very informative and well written essay, as a new pilot of quads I like to take in all the information that I can get my hands on. I have previously flown fixed wing and Helis but quads are an altogether different ball game.

  2. From the Mountains of Carinthia / Austria !
    Thank you very much it helps me a lot , i got furious because of all sorts of interferences almost cried of anger , you cannot believe what goes on in the Austrian alps because of handy signals , there are masts on almost every peak . I fly now only with wide open eyes

  3. I recently replaced the px4 board on my upair one drone I’ve taken three flight and encountered a fly away all three times. Switching between all 3 modes it doesnt seem to want me to regain control. I managed to get it back all 3 times. I can control it for about 10 seconds then it turns and heads somewhere else. Luckily I had my fpv screen to know which way to turn. Where do i start?

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