How to Get a Drone Out of a Tree – 6 Options Discussed

Drone Stuck In Tree

The best way to get a drone out of a tree is to fly it out. It may sound obvious, and it won’t work in all drone-tree situations, but if there is a clear route out then you can try to engage full power (try ‘Sports’ mode if your drone has it) to break free from the tree! 

I remember the first time I hit a tree with a drone. It was an unforgettable experience and I hope it will never happen again!

In this article, I talk about what you can do when this happens and how to get a drone out of a tree.

Here’s a short story of how I learned what to do in this situation the hard way….read on…

Flying a drone into a tree is stressful….

Especially when your drone is new, and costs big bucks.

I remember when I got my Mavic Pro and was all hyped up about it.

Busting the packaging open and fully immersed in the “WOW” moment. I’ve examined it in utmost detail, tried every position with the arms & controller, made at least ten selfies (!), and – after a painfully slow charging session – found myself in a position to get to do what I was dreaming about for so long:

  • Fly a drone through the blue sky
  • Capturing some stunning images
  • Making incredible videos and showing them to the world

I think I might actually be the drone pilot who crashed a new drone in the shortest time in history. (I might check that out with DJI!)

During the first flight, after 5 minutes of flying at 60 feet, somehow I managed to fly into a tree while returning home.

The adrenaline & excitement of flying for the first time and the sheer joy of the experience got the best of me. Even though I watched many tutorials on how to fly a drone and what to do when a tree comes in your way, somehow this experience turned into the most stressful day in my life.

How I got my drone out of the tree 

fly drone out of tree

My Mavic Pro got stuck in a big oak tree. I’m not sure how high it was, but it seemed gargantuan at the time. The drone was almost invisible in the branches. The controller’s alarm sound was going off while I was hyperventilating and running towards the forest like a madman. Not the prettiest situation, you’d agree – especially when you have to figure out how to find a drone lost in a tree.

It took me about 40 minutes to figure out which tree was my drone’s accidental landing location. Luckily, the drone didn’t shut down, so when I regained my composure, I used the GPS and my smartphone screen to locate the tree. It was very stressful because all the trees were alike, and that alarming noise wouldn’t stop.

It was such an unfortunate situation, I couldn’t help but wonder what could’ve happened to get my drone stuck. Now, when I finally reached the tree, it was time to start salvaging my beloved bird.

What options do you have

options to get drone out of tree

I’ve researched this topic for a while and seen that with numerous cases being reported out there, there are things you can do to save your drone. Here are the options to get your drone out of a tree, hopefully without damage.

Fly your way out

People often get into the branches with careless flying or ignoring strong winds, and sometimes, the most obvious thing might help – fly your way out.

It might sound crazy, but often when a “drone stuck in tree” situation occurs, everybody thinks it’s not possible to use it anymore. Well, it is quite a tricky situation, but it’s not impossible – you just might be able to fly away with some careful, extra slow maneuvers. 

Before trying this, please try to do everything you can to assess the situation and observe if the fly away scenario is even possible. With a reckless attempt to fly away,  you might do even more irreversible damage.

Climb the tree

climb tree

Of course, the first thing that comes to mind when people think about how to get drones out of trees is to climb – if the situation & environment allows it, that is.

When your drone is stuck on a tree, please try to inspect the tree in detail and look at how the potential climb would go. The chances are that your drone is stuck in the higher section of the tree, where the branches are quite thin, so you could waste a lot of energy and time and ultimately fail to retrieve your drone.

Let’s get back to ‘my drone is stuck in a tree’ – my Mavic helpless in its peak….

Being super stressed and steaming with adrenaline, I failed to assess the situation carefully.

Turns out, many people act like this, especially drone beginners. In that case, people would climb the tree only to realize the drone is still far from reach, out on a limb (!).

Almost in 99% of these cases, people get stressed out and try to dislodge the drone by shaking the tree.

DO NOT DO THIS.

When you fail to reach the drone by climbing, you get tired and stressed out, and the quick, mindless solution to just ‘shake the tree up a bit’  – a recipe for disaster.

That’s exactly what I did – with some shaking, my Mavic Pro got loose and started falling from high thin branches to the lower ones.

But, it was still out of my reach while falling…

Hitting thicker branches with more and more speed, only to come crashing down.

The epilogue of this attempt was a drone with three broken arms, a broken UV glass protector, and a disjointed gimbal.

Imagine my face & my feelings at the time..!..

Shake the tree from the ground

Chop tree down

Some of you might consider shaking the tree without climbing due to sheer ignorance & stress! I can’t support this decision, again because it’s super risky.

Even if you manage to have help from a friend or someone around to be under the drone’s designated area of ’emergency landing’, you forget about the thick branches the drone WILL HIT on the way down.

Drones are very delicate and aren’t built for freefall impacts & collisions. Even though they might seem sturdy in the hand, it’s a totally different ballgame when up in the air, or like in this case – falling through thick branches.

Even if your buddy manages to catch your falling drone, the chance of further damage is very high.

Remember, hitting the tree with your drone will result in damage in the first place.

Using a ladder / long pole

pole with duct tape

Another thing that comes to mind when forced to think about how to get drone out of tree is to use any help available – ladders or a long pole. When you’re in this situation, it’s always good to think logically and try to handle the situation in the best way possible.

Using a ladder will surely help you reach the high points of the tree, and if you’re lucky, provide a position from which you can manage to grab your mechanical bird. However, it all depends on your situation; if the tree is not that big, or your ladder is big enough, then surely go for it.

If in a remote location, you can walk to the nearest house and politely ask the people inside to help you. I’m assuming you’re not carrying big ladders on your drone flying sessions. 🙂

On the other hand, using a long pole could seem like a good solution to the given “drone in tree” situation, but I am afraid that you’re risking it, big time.

The possibility to damage your drone is simply too high – from the branches on the way down, to the ground itself, and ‘handling’ the strained drone from a high drop…. This all screams trouble to me and I advise you to forget about it.

One clever idea I’ve heard other people talking about would be to attach a loop of duct tape to the top of a  pole and try to hook the drone. This way you’ll avoid damage from falling, but the process of doing this has its pros & cons. I never saw this working firsthand, and I am not sure about it. Tread carefully.

Some people out there recommend saving your drone by throwing stuff at the tree. There are sites out there suggesting this as a viable solution.

Please, don’t try this hilarious idea.

In the best-case scenario, you’ll hit the drone with the thing, and even if you get it free, it will start falling, damaging itself on the way.

How to get a drone out of a high tree without damage

hydraulic bucket truck

The most viable option that will salvage your precious drone is to get help from professionals. If you have a friend who owns a hydraulic lift, now is the best time to call him.

The Fire Department in the area is another possible choice – they might come with an emergency bucket truck with a hydraulic lift and use it to carefully retrieve the poor quadcopter stuck in tree for you.

If you’re wondering:

Will the fire department get my drone out of a tree – the answer is yes, in some cases, but with some caveats.

They cannot spend resources to handle cases that aren’t life-threatening emergencies. So, expect to wait for a week or two for sure, and pray that it doesn’t rain.

Depending on the case & area, you might have to fill in some paperwork or pay some fines, but it’s still worth it, especially if your drone is expensive and you can get it retrieved without damage.

An extremely important thing to remember: do not claim that you’re calling the fire department because of an emergency. They operate on life-threatening situations and cases where minutes can mean the difference between life and death, so calling a drone stuck on a high tree an emergency will put you in serious trouble.

Just explain your situation patiently and hope for the best. If there are no emergency situations going on, they may help you!

Bonus tip: you can call a drone pilot friend of yours to try to free your drone with his own, but again, with quite the risk involved if his/her drone is not bigger & stronger than yours.

Closing Thoughts

final thoughts from the drone pilot

Saving your precious piece of flying tech from high branch entanglement will certainly be a stressful and possibly painful situation. Still, try to keep your cool, don’t rush things, and think clearly.

Do not resort to quick (stupid) ideas just out of frustration or haste.

If you have some comments or questions on how to get a drone out of a tall tree, don’t hesitate to leave them below & share this article with a  friend who might be in similar trouble.

You never know – you might save some (drone) lives

Also Read: The 10 Best Holy Stone Drones Available Today

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I'm the person behind Come Drone With Me and a 20-year aviation industry professional. Drop me a line on the contact page, and I'll get right back to you. Happy flying!

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