A drone can fly up to distances exceeding 11 miles, depending on the model of the drone. Averages lie between 2 miles and 11 miles. There are some types of drones, such as military drones, that can fly considerably longer distances. However, the average consumer drone flies about 4 miles.
I’ve spent the better part of the last five years operating various consumer and commercial brand models. As an experienced drone operator, I have flown exercises for corporate projects, photography projects, videography projects, and construction projects.
By doing so, I’ve spent many days questioning where and when I can fly my drones. And as a nature lover, being able to capture amazing shots from remote distances, is something I absolutely love.
Therefore, having the ability to fly my drones for long distances (within my line of sight) is very appealing. More importantly, flight time is critical to the success of my flight experiences. I’ve taken the time to research various models of drones, looking for specifications that meet my needs.
Now as a seasoned drone operator, I talk to hundreds, if not thousands, of drone operators who began their drone journey with this simple question: how far can a drone fly?
In this article, I will show you many of the important variables that contribute to the answer to this question. You’ll learn maximum flying distances, suggested flying distances, and I’ll also go over some helpful tips for flying.
- Key Takeaways
- Maximum Flying Distance of a Drone
- Suggested Flying Distance for a Drone
- Helpful Tips for Flying a Drone
- Several Best Practices
- Final Thoughts
- Flying distances depend on several factors such as drone weight, battery life, and weather conditions.
- Drone operators must maintain line of sight when flying or use a spotter that can help you.
- FAA rules impact drone operations.
Maximum Flying Distance of a Drone
The flying distance varies according to the model that you have.
I am a DJI drone owner and most DJI models have an approximate 4 miles (7 kilometers) flying distance. That’s right, 4 miles! That’s quite a distance. Some models (usually the more expensive ones) can fly up to 11 miles away.
Military drones, for instance, can fly as far as 124 miles. Police drones are able to fly nearly 10 miles or even further depending on the specific drone being used.
Here is an example of drones types and flying specifications:
|DJI Mavic Air 2
|Autel Robotics EVO 2
|DJI Phantom 4
I remember when I purchased my first drone, a DJI Mavic Air, I felt proud to say that my drone could fly 4 miles away. That sounded so great to the untrained ear. I quickly learned that flying distance was only as good as eye distance.
Interestingly enough, the human eye has an average site distance of about 3 miles or 5 kilometers, according to Healthline. After that distance, the human eye loses the line of sight. It is always recommended that you maintain a line of sight with your drone for safety purposes.
Many times newer drone owners want to “explore” and “experiment” but it can sometimes be a costly adventure. When you invest in a drone, it is always best to air on the side of caution.
According to DJI, watching your drone at all times while flying is the best way to avoid accidents.
Suggested Flying Distance for a Drone
Understanding safety is an important part of being a responsible drone operator.
While flying distances may sound appealing, suggested flying distance is the more suitable option. Even at the line of sight maximum (approximately 3 miles), it may still be difficult to maintain safety and avoid objects.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has specific rules in place to ensure that we drone owners operate our craft safely at all times. Some of the FAA rules include:
- Flying at or below 400 feet
- Do not fly in restricted areas
- Do not fly over groups of people
- Keep aircraft within the operator’s line of sight
Remember, it is possible to lose signal strength between the drone and the controller. Therefore, considerations such as battery strength, distance, and interference are things to account for at all times while flying.
Signal strength and transmission connectivity are critical elements in the flying process. The drone’s controller also plays a vital role in determining the flying distance of each drone.
Technically speaking, things such as latency (lag time) and nearby interferences, may also factor into how far the drone can fly.
Helpful Tips for Flying a Drone
As a new (or newer) drone operator, follow best practices and learn from others who are more experienced. I’ve developed a few helpful tips for your consideration:
- Be aware of all regulations.
- Monitor weather conditions.
- Have another person available as a spotter when available.
- Fly in well-lighted conditions when possible.
- Maintain a clear line of sight between you and your drone.
- Be responsible.
These are a few of the tips I’ve come to follow over my drone flying career. There are many other considerations as you move from a novice drone operator to an expert operator.
Several Best Practices
Tip 1: Learn as much as you can about your drone and its capabilities.
Understanding all the controls on the drone can be the difference between a safe landing and a crash landing.
For instance, some drones have a return to home function. That function is very useful, especially if the controller and drone lose contact with each other. However, there are times when the feature doesn’t work properly.
Another example is the obstacle avoidance feature. While this feature seems very impressive on the surface, it is only as good as its output. There have been many times when I needed the feature to avoid a power line or tree branch, only to find that a sensor was dirty or inoperable and the result was a crash.
Tip 2: It is always best to stay in control of the drone whenever possible.
Use your line of sight and surrounding conditions to help you navigate the drone properly. When possible, have someone with you that can assist you in seeing the drone’s path and is able to convey what they see, back to you clearly and concisely.
Another consideration is to ensure that your drone’s propellers are fully operable. Replace the propellers when you find damage to the propeller or excessive wear and tear.
Speed is also a consideration to be mindful of. Unless you are operating a racing drone, it is best to operate the drone at a moderate speed to maintain control of the aircraft.
Here are some other questions you might be curious about drone flying distance, I’ll answer them briefly below.
How Far Can You Fly a Drone from an Airport?
Generally speaking, drones are not allowed within 5 miles of an airport. Airports are considered a controlled airspace and the FAA requires that drones not fly near controlled airspaces. Additionally, permission should be requested for flying near airports because of commercial flight patterns that lead to the airport.
How Far Can a Drone Fly from the Controller?
Most recreational drones can fly approximately ¼ mile to 1.5 miles from its controller. The distances depend on the specific model, battery strength, and signal strength. More expensive drone models may fly further from its controller but remember to keep the drone within your line of sight.
Can I Fly a Drone as Far as I Want to?
No, there are specific regulations regarding keeping your drone within your line of sight.
What Happens When a Drone Goes Out of the Range?
Crash, that’s the strongest possibility. Once the drone loses signal or battery strength, the drone will either attempt to return home or will land immediately and may crash.
How Can I Make My Drone Fly Farther?
It depends on the battery strength, battery life, weight of the craft, and weather conditions. All of these factors impact flying distances and flying times.
Drone flying distances depend on a lot of variables. Weather conditions, connectivity, battery life, time of day, operator’s physical limitations, and regulations, just to name a few. How far a drone can fly really varies on the type of drone and most importantly, on the operator’s sight.
Like many of you, I absolutely enjoy flying my drones. I love the thrill of it and the art I can produce with it. As you move from an enthusiast to perhaps a professional drone pilot, do so with careful appreciation of the aircraft and its capabilities.
Drones are a ton of fun! Being able to capture shots and views from different angles and heights can be an adrenaline rush. However, with much fun comes much responsibility (yes, I’m borrowing that phrase from a great quote).
Any other questions about how far a drone can fly? Feel free to leave a comment below. I’ll respond as soon as I can. Otherwise, have fun and enjoy your drone experience!