How To Find a Lost Drone: 5 Counterintuitive Ways

A damaged quadcopter drone which crashed on grass in a city park and is broken

It’s bound to happen; you’re out flying your drone, and suddenly it’s gone. You can’t see or hear it, and you have no idea where it could be. This is a gut-wrenching experience owing to your investment in acquiring the drone.

Here are five counterintuitive ways to find a lost drone:

  1. Try reversing the drone.
  2. Use the “find my drone” function.
  3. Search for the drone manually.
  4. Use another drone.
  5. Check popular drone spots.

Let’s dig deeper into these ways to find a lost drone and see how you can use them to find your missing drone. 

1. Try Reversing the Drone

A man worried that he lost control of his flying drone

Reversing your drone is the first thing you should do when you realize the drone is missing. Before proceeding with other drone search methods, you want to ensure that the drone is not lost due to a poor signal between the drone and the controller. A poor signal can happen due to:

  • The controller being too far from the drone.
  • Poor weather.
  • Interference from other electronic devices.
  • The batteries in the controller running low.

The National Library of Medicine explains that drones use either the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz wireless communication frequencies. These frequencies have different capabilities in terms of range coverage. For instance, the 2.4 GHz frequency covers long ranges, meaning you might lose connection if your drone uses the 5 GHz frequency in the long range zone.

Reversing your drone entails flying it back in the direction it flew through until you regain control of it. Most high-end drones have the Return to Home (RTH) feature that makes it possible to reverse the drone to its preset home. Although this method is not foolproof, it’s worth a try to see if you’ll be able to regain the signal connection between the drone and the controller.

Below are the steps to use the RTH feature:

  1. Try moving toward the direction of your drone’s flight to reduce the range between the drone and the controller.
  2. Press and hold the “return to home” button on the controller until it registers.
  3. Wait for a few minutes.
  4. If you’re lucky, you might be able to regain control of your drone and bring it back home.

Expert Tip: After pressing the “return to home” button, check the telemetry information for any changes. Telemetry information is located at the bottom of the screen and should show the drone’s location in terms of coordinates and distance. If you notice distance numbers decreasing, it means the drone is coming.

2. Use the “Find My Drone” Function

You might mistakenly switch off your controller or run out of power during a flight. In such cases, you’ll need to rely on advanced features to connect to the drone.

Modern drones have apps and functionalities that can help you locate their exact positions. The “find my drone” feature is an excellent addition to newer drones. It can be used in the following ways to find a lost drone:

Using an App

Technological advancements have made it possible to use smartphones in searches. The same case applies to drones; you can find your lost drone by downloading the manufacturer’s app and connecting it to the drone. The most common drone apps are:

  • Find My Drone 4+
  • DJI Go App

These apps function similarly by working out the coordinates of the last known point and plotting that to your current position. This will help direct you to the drone.

Below is the procedure for using the app:

  1. Exit the camera mode.
  2. Click the three little bars at the top right corner.
  3. Scroll down to “Find My Drone”.
  4. The app works out your current coordinates and the coordinates of where the drone was last known to be.
  5. The app plots a line connecting you to the drone.
  6. Walk along the plotted line to locate your drone.

The DJI FPV Drone

For DJI FPV drone users, there is a different way of finding the drone using the “Find My Drone” feature. This works for pilots who use goggles to fly the drone.

You’ll need the following to find a lost drone using this method:

  • Goggles
  • An adapter
  • A smartphone


  1. Connect the phone to the goggles using the adapter cable.
  2. On the goggles, scroll down to settings.
  3. Click on “safety.”
  4. Scroll down to “Find My Drone.”
  5. A map and distance to where the drone was last captured will be displayed.
  6. Use the map and distance to walk towards the drone’s location.

3. Search for the Drone Manually

You might find yourself in a situation where you’ve lost signal connection and no apps or flight logs to locate your lost drone. What should you do?

In such a situation, the only way to find your lost drone is to search for it manually. You’ll have to inspect every place you think the drone might be, either in the air, ground, or water. Unfortunately, searching for your drone manually requires a lot of effort and energy.

The following are some of the ways to search for a lost drone manually:

Check High Up

Most people assume that if a drone is lost, it must be on the ground. However, drones are designed to fly, so your lost drone may still be in the air. Check high up in trees or on rooftops first.

If you can’t find the drone, move to the next possible location.

Listen for Beeps

Drones usually make a beeping sound when turned on so try to listen out for this sound. If you hear the sound coming from somewhere nearby, there’s a good chance that’s where your drone is. Head in that direction, and you might just be lucky to find your lost drone.

Check for Obstacles

It’s possible that your drone got stuck somewhere if you’re in an area with a lot of trees or other obstacles. Check these places carefully to see if you can find your drone.

However, you need to be careful when walking in wooded areas due to the risks of wild animals like snakes.

Look for Water

If you were flying near water, there’s a chance your drone could have fallen in. In such a case, you’ll need to look for ripples in the water or any other signs that could help you locate your drone.

You can also use a stick to prod the water in different areas to see if you can feel anything under the water. Be careful not to drown while searching for your drone.

Unfortunately, most drones are not waterproof. Thus, the drone might be dead by the time you retrieve it from the water. The best way to prevent this is to equip your drone with floaters if you’ll be flying over water.

4. Use Another Drone

Using another drone with a camera can make it easy to survey the surroundings and locate your lost drone. If you have another drone, simply launch it in the air and fly around to see if you can find your missing drone.

The advantage of using another drone is that it can survey the air, land, and water. Therefore, the chances of finding the lost drone are high.

This method is beneficial if you’re searching for a drone in a large area.

5. Check Popular Drone Spots

There are some places that are popular with drone pilots. If you lost your drone in such an area, someone might have found it and is probably looking for the owner.

Some of the popular drone spots include:

  • Parks
  • Beaches
  • Fields
  • Rooftops

If the drone disappeared in any of these places, head over there and check if anyone has seen it or knows its whereabouts. Alternatively, put up flyers in these areas to help you find your lost drone. Ensure the flyer has your name, contact details, and drone model for easy identification.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions regarding lost drones.

Can You Locate a Lost Drone?

You can locate a lost drone by searching for it manually, using drone apps, or surveying the area with another drone. Alternatively, you can find a missing drone by searching for its lights if it still has power.

Why Do Drones Get Lost?

Drones get lost when they hit an obstacle, run out of power, or lose connection with the controller. In a situation where a drone gets lost, it’s the pilot’s responsibility to determine the reason for the loss and work out ways to find it.


The great thing is that all the above methods can work even if your drone doesn’t have a tracker. So, if you have lost yours, use the most appropriate one to get it back.


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