Drone Search and Rescue Mission


Somewhere out there was the little drone… But where?

Hello and welcome to the blog.  Today was spent looking for two drones.  One was lost months ago and the other disappeared on Sunday…  I still have not found the former but did find the latter.  How the runaway drone was recovered was kind of interesting and all without the use of GPS.

On Sunday the drone had been flown from a field near Kirkwood College in Monticello, Iowa.  The wind was over 20 MPH and choppy – not recommended weather for flying… Still, the little Syma X5C-1 did an amazing job of navigating until a gust threw it beyond the range of the controller.  It started to fall and I eventually got control – enough to put the Syma into a semi-controlled spiral and set it down in a snowy field.  It immediately sank into the wet, melting snow a ways away.  Worse yet, it’s all but impossible to judge distance when everything is white!


Nope, not here.

Thankfully, the cold Iowa weather is over – today it was 63 degrees!  As the snow melted, I knew the drone would become visible but the thing had landed in a huge field several blocks long in each direction!  Because the Syma landed near the college, I didn’t want a curious kid to find it first.

lee MajorsThe recovery idea came from watching an old episode of “The Six Million Dollar Man”.  Steve Austin, the “cyborg”, supposedly had an artificial eye with a 20:1 zoom lens.  As I watched the show and saw him zoom in on a person, an idea came to mind.  My Canon digital camera can capture photos using a 48:1 digital zoom…  Using it in the “picture taking mode” would enable one to see a vast distance, perhaps with enough resolution to locate the drone.

As the temperatures soared, the snow melted and dwindled to an ever decreasing number of white patches.  I had a rough idea of where to look but the crash site turned out to be about 1/2 block away.

Extreme RangeAfter checking out various objects including fast food bags and pop cups, this little blob caught my attention.  The sun was going down and I was about to give up.  At first this shape (on the right) looked more like snow than anything… But there was just too much resemblance to the propeller guards not to follow up. Snow doesn’t have upturned edges when it’s melting!  The first photo was taken at quite a distance through the car window.  As I hopped out and took another pic (below), you could see it was the quadcopter.

IMG_2502The drone had landed safely.  As it fell, I had been able to turn off the HD camera and save the video.  The end of the clip might make one dizzy but it’s kind of cool to watch.  Click here for the video…  There was no damage whatsoever.  The drone is charged up and ready for the next flight.

Unfortunately, the shoes didn’t fare so well.  Each step in the cornfield meant sinking up to several inches in the mud and multiple times they stayed in the mud and filled with water.  Oh well, you can never have too many “fishing shoes” in the trunk of the car.  😀

So what’s next?  Today was Tuesday and I was planning to ready the van for camping.  Sometime later this week the plan is to camp somewhere with one of the kitties and enjoy the warmer weather.  The new job will be starting soon after that… and it’s on the way to “trout country”.  It’s going to be a fun 2015!

Have a great day and thanks for visiting.

Brad, Serena, and Jesse James
Jones County, Iowa


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