Any given small drone, with its battery included, weighs only a few ounces. Any wind that can be seen blowing tree branches can affect these small drones. Here’s some suggestions on how to cope with the wind. Try to fly either in the morning or just before sunset when the winds are the calmest. If you must fly when the wind is ‘blowing’, here are a few things you should know:
1) Wind can push a drone in any direction and you may not be able to control it other than chop the throttle.
2) Winds can change direction as the altitude increases. Wind blowing from the north can change direction and blow from the northeast 100 feet up or less. Don’t be fooled into thinking the wind on the ground is the same as the winds aloft.
3) Wind directions can shift up to 180 degrees during the passing of a weather front. The front of a weather system is the area where unstable air moves the fastest. When a typical storm approaches, you first notice the wind increasing, then you might get some rain, then rain will pass, the wind may die down or even become calm. Look at any chart at weather.com when a storm is approaching. Look at wind direction.
4) Wind is always quoted as “coming from”. Not “going to”. Wind “SSW at 10 mph” is wind coming from the South Southwest at 10 mph. If Ono mph is shown, assume knots. A knot = 1.15077945 miles per hour. For drone purpose at knot can be equal 1 mph. Aviation weather is expressed differently. Wind: 340 @ 24 means, the wind in coming from 340 degrees true compass heading at 24 knots.
5) How much is too much wind when flying a small drone? The answer varies depending on the speed of the wind and the maximum forward attainable speed of the drone. A headwind moving directly towards a drone can push the drone up or down or backwards and sometimes the only control you’ll have is to reduce the throttle and land. A 2+ mph wind can do this. If you can’t make headway with full forward stick, there is too much wind. Land. Go home.
6) Gusting winds can violently send a small drone upward at amazing speed even with the throttle all the way down. There’s a reason small drone don’t fly well in wind — it’s their weight. A typical drone weighs from 2 to 5 ounces. Not much.
7) As the drone ascends or descends, the wind blowing against it can increase or decrease and change directions at the same time. Go ahead, look. Can you see the wind? No? But it’s still there. You can do a quick check of the prevailing wind by tossing a few pieces of grass into the air.
8 ) A serious drone pilot will at least look online (weather.com) and see what speed the wind is blowing in their flying area before going flying. At least check the wind in the trees when you arrive. An indication of calm wind is always good. 1–2 MPH; so-so. Over that you have your work cut out for you.
9) If it starts to rain, land immediately. Rain absorbs microwaves and all drone radios use microwave signals for control. Plus drone electronics don’t like water and almost none are sealed against water damage.
10) After a few hours of flying your first drone, you’ll actually NEED to start flying with wind. This is how pilots determine the aircraft flight characteristics and what they can do to handle excessive winds. You can still fly, but you need to take precautions.
9) Always set the drone on the ground away from trees and other foliage. Leave at least 50 to 75 feet in all directions clear. Orient the drone so that the nose of the drone (the end with the two white rotors) points forward into other wind. Stand behind the drone about 10 to 15 feet. Raise to throttle about 1/3 of the way and the drone will take off and climb.
When the drone is about 3 feet off the ground slowly push the right control stick forward while adding some power when the drones start to descend. After a few seconds reduce throttle slightly and pull back on the right control stick. The drone will come backwards back to you and descend at the same time. If you loose control, chop the throttle all the way off.
If the drone seems to be climbing too fast into the wind you will have to adjust the throttle down. Once you have mastered this maneuver, you can experiment with using the wind to blow the drone back to you using the throttle to reduced altitude.
This is not difficult to do, but will require practice. When I’m out flying and the wind picks up, I practice this maneuver until the wind forces me to stop flying. It’s good to learn the drone’s “flight envelope” or limits with and without wind.