How to Get a Drone Out of a Tree (With and Without Equipment)

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Flying a drone is fun and all, until you lose yourself in the moment and your drone gets stuck in a tree.

It has happened to me several times, either because I moved too fast, overestimated the drone’s speed, or experienced a sudden gust of wind.

Luckily sometimes the drone would “save itself” from the tree and keep flying, and other times I’ve had to retrieve it manually.

So, how to get a drone out of a tree?

Get your drone out of a tree by just going up and picking it up.

However, that is only possible if the tree is below 20 feet tall and its structure allows manual climbing. Thankfully, you can use equipment like a ladder, pole, and fishing line, if the tree is tall or strenuous to climb.

Let’s see how you can use some of these ways to get your drone out of a tree, as well as some tips on avoiding such occurrences.

How to Get Your Drone Out of a Tree Without Equipment

Your drone can get stuck in a tree and you have no equipment to aid in its retrieval.

This situation is extremely frustrating. Thankfully, we’ve various methods of getting a drone out of a tree without equipment. Below are the most common tactics.

  • Climb a tree
  • Fly it out
  • Shake the tree
  • Use a stick
  • Call the fire department
  • Contact a tree service company
  • Telephone the power service company

Read on to understand how each of the above drone retrieval methods works.

1. Climb The Tree

Climbing the tree to retrieve your caught-up drone is the most obvious way of getting your drone out of a tree.

Although the method sounds simple, you’ve got to put certain things into consideration to avoid getting yourself into more serious trouble.

A drone caught in atree

For example, you need to be a tree-climbing ‘expert,’ be a weight that the tree can handle, and the tree should have well-positioned branches to allow easy climbing.

You should also ensure the tree is not on private property or you risk trespassing.

Additionally, you need to have in place proper safety measures and equipment for the wet and slippery trees.

You can involve a friend to make sure that your safety is kept in check. And once you go up the tree pull the gadget gently and find your way back carefully.

2. Fly It Out

Your drone may seem to be, but not actually stuck in the tree.

In this case, try flying it out.

How? By inspecting its scene: Locate the drone from your viewpoint and try streaming its FPV camera to your phone to view it and its surrounding.

If you can see your drone, try and identify the propeller’s position in regard to leaves and branches.

If the propellers are intertwined with the leaves and branches, this retrieval strategy may be unsuitable. But if the propellers aren’t stuck, use your navigation skills to fly your drone out.

However, if there is no clear pathway, move the propellers in various directions to set them loose from the tree.

3. Shake The Tree

This method is straightforward and safe, but its suitability depends on the tree’s thickness and height.

If the tree’s trunk is thin, shaking your gadget out becomes very easy. However, it may be a bit tedious when the tree is too tall or the drone is caught at the highest part of the tree.

On the contrary, this drone removal tactic isn’t applicable to trees with a thicker trunk. Even so, you can ask friends to chip in and give it a trial.

4. Throw Something At It

Hurling an object at the drone can get it out of a tree.

However, avoid using something hard or heavy that can damage your device.

Hence, you should get kids’ balls such as tennis balls or beach balls because they are smooth and soft, but hard enough to remove the drone from the tree.

Alternatively, go for anything made of fabric including a wad of socks or bundled cloth. Be sure to have a safety net around to prevent the drone from breaking or getting damaged upon hitting the ground.

5. Call The Fire Department

Although most people might consider it a misuse of government resources, calling the fire department to get your drone out of a tree is allowed.

This option is essential, especially where DIY risks your life and others.

Will the fire department get my drone out of a tree?

Yes, the fire department will get your drone out of a tree. In fact, they’ll do it for free.

Nonetheless, you need to be courteous in your call, avoid exaggerating the situation, and portray your case as a non-priority one.

Additionally, just call if your drone is an expensive one and give them something small for appreciation.

It’s worth noting that drone retrieval is one of the emergency services offered by the US government. If you adhere to the above tips, they’ll be more than willing to assist you.

The fire department retrieving a drone

6. Tree Service Company

Calling a local tree service company is an ideal option.

Their workers are experienced and have the right equipment to get drones out of trees. However, you may have to give the attendant some $50 because that’s an extra job.

How do you reach out to a tree service company?

You can reach out to a tree service company by searching ‘tree service companies near me,’ and choosing the closest.

The far ones may turn down your request because of the distance. Also, consider picking a lowly reviewed company as they’d be more willing to help than their high-ranking counterparts.

This option saves you time and costs you less than the alternatives found online.

7. Power Service Company

Just like its tree service counterpart, a power service company has the right equipment for accessing great heights.

You’re even better positioned to benefit from their services if the tree is near a power line.

The company can retrieve your drone for free as they have laws indicating that trees near such points should remain cut.

Even so, it’s good to appreciate the assistance with a tip. After all, they had to squeeze their busy schedule to accommodate your request.

How to Get Your Drone Out of a Tree – With Equipment

In a more complex situation, you may find it hard to get your drone back with no equipment. Fortunately, there are various alternative tips to help in drone retrieval. Check the list below.

  • A ladder: Get a ladder with an appropriate height and lean it against the tree. Go up the ladder, remove your drone, and climb down. This method is simple but make sure that the ladder is strong and in good condition. The tree should also be able to handle your weight and the ladder.
A ladder with a person standing on it
  • Bamboo pole: Lift your pole to reach out to the caught-up drone while standing on the ground. Retrieve it carefully and bring it back to the ground. This method is safe and effective while the retrieval tool is readily available and inexpensive. Unlike most other poles, the bamboo pole is firm and inflexible, making it ideal for the job.
  • Nerf/Dart gun: This method involves shooting the branches of the tree in which your drone is stuck for the drone to eventually fall. However, you need to have excellent shooting skills, otherwise, you might damage your device with the bullets.
  • Fishing line: Get a firm, soft object and tie the fishing line on it. Identify a straight path to where the drone is caught up and hurl the fishing line OVER the gadget and the branches holding it. Shake the branches moderately until the drone falls down.
A rope being thrown into a tree
  • Scissor lift: You can rent this tool for about $150 per day and use it to get your drone out of a tree. The X-patterned equipment is used to lift heavy objects to top shelves and is suitable for your case too. It lifts you to a position where the drone is stuck or near it.
  • Boom lift: It works similarly to the scissor lift but is more mobile and has a higher maximum height. It raises up to 170 feet and can bend around obstacles, making it suitable for inaccessible areas.
  • Rake: Shake the branch on which your drone is stuck to set it loose. If unsuccessful, poke the drone gently until it falls. You should have something soft laid on the landing ground to avoid more damage to the gadget. A net or blanket will do. The majority of rakes are 21 feet long, but if you can’t find a long rake, try joining several of them with duct tape.
  • ABS pipes: Get as many ABS pipes as you need and glue them together. Get ready a soft landing surface for your drone. Tap the branch catching the device and if it doesn’t dislodge, poke it until it gets out of the tree.
  • Bucket truck: The air conditioning platform resembles a huge staircase and can be used as it is or fixed to a truck. This equipment lifts you in the air high enough to reach your drone and retrieve it.
A bucket truck parked by a tree

What Shouldn’t You Do to Get a Drone Out of a Tree?

Below are the things you shouldn’t do to get a drone out of a tree. Although the situation can be frustrating, don’t go for desperate measures.

  • Climb a tree (unless confident). Going up a tall tree when you aren’t an expert climber is dangerous. Falling from a tree can cause body parts breakage or even lead to death. A drone isn’t worth your life! 
  • Use too much force. Excessive force will cause the drone to fall at a high speed, hitting the ground hard and as a result, get damaged. The force can also split the gadget while it’s still stuck in the tree.
  • Flush the drone. Flushing a drone stuck in a tree with water from a hose pipe might seem safe as it won’t cause outer shell damage. However, the water can destroy the device’s internal circuitry. The water may also force the device to fall at a high speed, increasing the chances of getting damaged.
  • Use a drone to rescue the drone. Using another drone to retrieve the other is risky. Why? There is a high likelihood of it getting stuck too. You may thereby end up with double the cost of getting a drone out of a tree or even losing them. Else, the second drone may hit the other one causing damage.
  • Knocking the drone down. When you knock the drone, it can acquire irreversible damage or be too expensive to repair. Alternatively, if you’re lucky to get it off the tree, it might get destroyed once it gets to the ground.

How to Avoid Getting Your Drone Stuck in a Tree

It’s said, “prevention is better than cure.” This saying is very relevant in the world of drones!

It’s wise to avoid getting your drone stuck in a tree to keep off the hustle of retrieving it. This is how:

  • Practice flying in open areas: Avoid flying your drone over trees if you don’t have to. That keeps it off getting caught up in one for whatever reason.
  • Monitor the weather: Weather is a significant determining factor in successfully flying your drone. Hence, you should ensure there’s favorable weather when flying your drone. Rain, lightning, fog, and strong wind will impair your vision and may lead to the crashing of your drone in trees.
  • Charge your drone: Have your drone fully charged before every flight! Also, you should monitor its battery throughout the flight to ensure it has enough charge to descend. If it runs out of power while in the air, it can fall at high speeds and can get stuck in trees.
  • Keep the line of sight: Always fly your drone to a distance where you can see it, especially if you’re a beginner. You can also have a spotter during practice until you become an expert drone pilot.
  • Don’t get distracted: Keep your eyes on the drone at all times. Distractions are a major cause of drones getting stuck on trees, especially for the new flyers.
  • Don’t fly in reverse: Fly your drone forward all the time. The reverse direction movement is a potential source of collisions and major crashes.
  • Don’t be aggressive: Avoid aggression during your flights. It can make you press the buttons or controls sharply, which may make it hard to effect any needed changes.
  • Hover before flying: Flutter around before you take off. Thirty seconds is enough to determine the aerial stability of your drone after which you can fly it.
  • Be familiar with controls: You need to know your drone controls and be able to operate them properly. They’re a major part of your overall flying experience.
  • Practice enough: Once you get familiar with the drone operations and controls, practice thoroughly to be conversant with every button. Know how to use a single and a combination of buttons in readiness to fly your gadget. Moreover, you can use them in simulation to know what flying a drone feels like.
  • Go through the manual: Even if you’re a drone flying expert, you must read the manual when you get a new drone. Each drone is different and its user manual contains the safety guidelines you need to fly it safely.
  • Register with the relevant body: Your drone registration should come right after purchase. Any drone weighing more than 0.001 – 55 pounds must undergo registration through the FAA Unmanned Aircraft Registration System.

FAQ

Bottom Line

The thought of your drone being stuck somewhere in a tree can be frustrating but it doesn’t have to be.

We’ve provided both assisted and non-assisted retrieval strategies and explained how each can be helpful if you find yourself in that fix.

Choose the most appropriate method or use a combination of two or more for excellent results.

We’ve also gone further to caution you on which paths you shouldn’t trend when trying to get your drone out of a tree.

Most importantly, the article outlines preventive measures that if you put in place, you won’t have to get into this mess.

Happy Flying!

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