My Pro+ Never Returned Home After Losing Signal? Just disappeared

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Hi all,

So I was wondering about what to expect and proceed after my drone incident this week. Weather was sunny, clear, with calm winds - approx 11:30 AM. It was a weekday in an empty area. I was flying north of the Las Vegas strip (near Circus Circus location to get a distant landscape capture of the buildings and surrounding mountains). About 12 minutes into the flight I was at the max distance reached at which, at this point, I was planning to fly it back home (top of a small empty parking garage) and end the flight. However, at that instant, it lost signal. This has happened many of times to me... at which point I've always select the RTH option. It usually takes a couple of seconds to retrieve signal again. However, this time, the signal never came back and neither did the drone. It continued flying further to a point that a hotel blocked it's view and I lost visual. I waited a bit, but the signal never returned. After a few minutes I sprinted the 1500 ft to it's last recorded location on the GPS map.
The drone was nowhere to be seen. I searched everywhere frantically but to my despair, it was nowhere to be seen. As each minute passed, the controller never picked up signal to the drone. I contacted that hotel's security and they also helped search their perimeter, including all their rooftops, etc... no one reported seeing it nor could they find it. I looked everywhere. Even knowing the phantom 4's ability to avoid obstacles, I searched to see if it possibly crashed somewhere. I then contacted the surrounding buildings and vicinity and no one saw it. I called air traffic control at the two surrounding airports to make a report about the drone and ask if they had picked it up on their radar or if any interference was performed. They unfortunately had no information. My partner stayed at the home location the entire time and never saw it come back nor reported back any further visual of it. We searched through the entire evening but it was never seen nor spotted by anyone. I left my number and made craigslist lost and found posts to no avail. I do not understand how this could have happened... we had our flight back home that evening and live nowhere near Las Vegas. I followed all of DJI's instructions sending them all my flight logs and the entire report. The lady on the phone informed me that depending on the investigation, they may send me a new one. Has anyone ever experienced such an incident? I used to fly the phantom 2 but never experienced something like this. Do you think DJI will be able to locate the drone? My memory card and footage is still there and it's such a mystery that on a clear day like that, the drone could just disappear. It even shows on the flight log at 280 ft, the drone just disappears off the screen.

I attached the flight record here: Airdata UAV - Flight Data Analysis for Drones

The text file is in an attachment.

Thanks - this means so much for me. I'd spent years saving since my phantom 2 and had the 4 since July. This has caused me so much anxiety. A few locals reached out to me and even said they'd try to fly their Mavics to try and find it.
 

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Did you press the RTH button?

It might be the AC was returning and you pressed the button cancelling the RTH.

It would be helpful if you could upload your flight log to phantomhelp log viewer and paste the link back here.
 
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Did you press the RTH button?

It might be the AC was returning and you pressed the button cancelling the RTH.

It would be helpful if you could upload your flight log to phantomhelp log viewer and paste the link back here.

Hi, I made sure the RTH button was not cancelled... that was a priority at that time. Here is the link I just added to phantom viewer: DJI Flight Log Viewer - PhantomHelp.com
 
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Looks like it landed on that BIG walkway on Las Vegas Blvd. What you post says it landed with 49% battery. Not sure what your settings were for loss of signal.

Maybe - I immediately ran over there but it was nowhere along the walkway. It shouldn't have just landed away from home there I would believe... it still had a half energy reserve to easily return back like it had always done previously. The last recording had it at 280 ft so I'm not sure what it did after.
 
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Maybe - I immediately ran over there but it was nowhere along the walkway. It shouldn't have just landed away from home there I would believe... it still had a half energy reserve to easily return back like it had always done previously. The last recording had it at 280 ft so I'm not sure what it did after.
Well, you see, you tell it what to do when the signal is lost. So without knowing what you have set, it is hard to know. One setting is to hover in place, it should do that until 10% battery I think. But your log, which doesn't have enough to go on, implies it landed with 49%, but I cant say that is true. As was said, the log file will reveal a bit more.
Some one could have picked it up, or it may have just landed on the other side of the wall? Hard to be sure.
 
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Well, you see, you tell it what to do when the signal is lost. So without knowing what you have set, it is hard to know. One setting is to hover in place, it should do that until 10% battery I think. But your log, which doesn't have enough to go on, implies it landed with 49%, but I cant say that is true. As was said, the log file will reveal a bit more.
Some one could have picked it up, or it may have just landed on the other side of the wall? Hard to be sure.

Yeah that's very true. Previous times it would return to home after lost signal. It's set to do that with no signal. But who knows what exactly happened this time... right now DJI is investigating the claim so I hope they will resolve it - Ideally locate the drone's location or send a recovery one. If someone did pick it up, I hope they return it. I looked behind walls, in shrubs, etc... but it wasn't anywhere. Someone from a "no caller id" called me and asked me how was the drone lost and for me to describe the drone. They said they'd call back, then hung up... they never called back. Strange.
 

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Yeah that's very true. Previous times it would return to home after lost signal. It's set to do that with no signal. But who knows what exactly happened this time... right now DJI is investigating the claim so I hope they will resolve it - Ideally locate the drone's location or send a recovery one. If someone did pick it up, I hope they return it. I looked behind walls, in shrubs, etc... but it wasn't anywhere. Someone from a "no caller id" called me and asked me how was the drone lost and for me to describe the drone. They said they'd call back, then hung up... they never called back. Strange.
Here's what your flight data looks like: DJI Flight Log Viewer - PhantomHelp.com
You were flying at 281 feet when you flew the Phantom behind the Hilton Grand, which by my guess is about 360 feet high.
Your Phantom would have continued for a couple of seconds from the last point where you had signal.
Your RTH height was 98 feet so the Phantom would have attempted to RTH 3 seconds after losing signal at the height it was at already.
The likely outcome of this should be obvious.
The Phantom almost certainly flew into the Hilton in the vicinity of the white X or perhaps on the end of the building to the north of the X.

i-xjvZDF3-X2.jpg


If you fly behind a tall obstacle, you will lose signal and pressing the RTH button will have no effect.
Your Phantom will attempt to RTH at whatever height you have set (or the height it is at if higher).
If that height is lower than the obstacle, the Phantom will probably fly into the obstacle.
 
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Here's what your flight data looks like: DJI Flight Log Viewer - PhantomHelp.com
You were flying at 281 feet when you flew the Phantom behind the Hilton Grand, which by my guess is about 360 feet high.
Your Phantom would have continued for a couple of seconds from the last point where you had signal.
Your RTH height was 98 feet so the Phantom would have attempted to RTH 3 seconds after losing signal at the height it was at already.
The likely outcome of this should be obvious.
The Phantom almost certainly flew into the Hilton in the vicinity of the white X

i-xjvZDF3-X2.jpg

Hi Meta4, excellent! That's exactly what I had thought... that it got trapped in that "L" and it's where I spent most of my time looking for it. I asked security to do a search for it on any of the rooftops in that area but they said it was not there. I searched myself as well. I was in that area before its battery would have died for the landing and it wasn't there. My only theory is that the drone landed over the roof of that carport at the entrance near that "X" in the corner of the "L" shaped building? Maybe security missed it when they did their search. I had called them again to check that specific area but they'd changed shifts and the new guy wasn't pleasant about checking anything and hung up on me unfortunately.
 

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My only theory is that the drone landed over the roof of that carport at the entrance near that "X" in the corner of the "L" shaped building?
Are there balconies or ledges on the side of the building or is it a smooth face?
There are a number of limitations to obstacle avoidance - glass being one of them.
I doubt that the Phantom landed at all.
A crash is a much more likely outcome.
Here's the scene of the incident
787214_93_z.jpg
 
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Are there balconies or ledges on the side of the building or is it a smooth face?
There are a number of limitations to obstacle avoidance - glass being one of them.
I doubt that the Phantom landed at all.
A crash is a much more likely outcome.
Here's the scene of the incident
95215007.jpg

There are no balconies - it's a smooth face. I did a walk along the side right in that area in the photo for both buildings but there was no debris or drone anywhere alongside the perimeter, and no one reported or saw the drone or a crash. I checked the trees and shrubs there as well. Security also inspected that area and still have my number - they told me they'd call if they had found it but they still haven't.
 

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There are no balconies - it's a smooth face. I did a walk along the side right in that area in the photo for both buildings but there was no debris or drone anywhere alongside the perimeter, and no one reported or saw the drone or a crash. I checked the trees and shrubs there as well. Security also inspected that area and still have my number - they told me they'd call if they had found it but they still haven't.
I might have to recalculate.
Which building was it?
There are two L shaped Hilton Grand buildings and one appears much taller than the other.
Either would have blocked signal but one looks like it would have been lower than your Phantom.
787214_93_z.jpg


95215007.jpg
 
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I might have to recalculate.
Which building was it?
There are two L shaped Hilton Grand buildings and one appears much taller than the other.
Either would have blocked signal but one looks like it would have been lower than your Phantom.
787214_93_z.jpg


95215007.jpg

It was the taller one (below photo taken at night) with separated towers. With my last visual display on the controller, I could see the red "H" on the right side of the photo and that's when the signal busted.
 

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It was the taller one (below photo taken at night) with separated towers. With my last visual display on the controller, I could see the red "H" on the right side of the photo and that's when the signal busted.
OK ... no recalculation necessary.
That building would have been higher than the Phantom.
 
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I is possible that the Phantom would have stopped and hovered, then attempted to land when the battery went low. If it encounters an obstacle, it can stop and hover, I have seen it happen. I can't go forward and it doesn't know how to fly around the obstacle.
 
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Very strange, it tried to RTH at least 3 times, you cancelled it once or more. It tried to come home, the distance was getting smaller. But the RTH was set to 98 feet, but you kept taking it up to MAX altitude of nearly 400 feet. There were many warnings of Airspace, GPS mismatches, yet you continued to fly away from home, you must have done it, it was higher than the RTH setting. It appeared to get closer to you several times, but you apparently took control and moved it further from you and higher. Plus you appeared to have attempted to change flight modes, but it must have been set to Single Flight Mode and would not let you.
So, what were you doing all that time, why did you keep flying away from you when trouble started, rather than bringing it home? Seems like you were either very confused or disoriented.
Hope you find it, but I doubt it was a failure, there was nothing there that I saw to indicate that.:(
 
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Very strange, it tried to RTH at least 3 times, you cancelled it once or more. It tried to come home, the distance was getting smaller. But the RTH was set to 98 feet, but you kept taking it up to MAX altitude of nearly 400 feet. There were many warnings of Airspace, GPS mismatches, yet you continued to fly away from home, you must have done it, it was higher than the RTH setting. It appeared to get closer to you several times, but you apparently took control and moved it further from you and higher. Plus you appeared to have attempted to change flight modes, but it must have been set to Single Flight Mode and would not let you.
So, what were you doing all that time, why did you keep flying away from you when trouble started, rather than bringing it home? Seems like you were either very confused or disoriented.
Hope you find it, but I doubt it was a failure, there was nothing there that I saw to indicate that.:(

So I clicked RTH mode and left it there for a couple of minutes but the drone was never returning. I restarted the RTH signal because I thought it never reached the drone. This was after a while since the drone was not coming back. I ran by foot along the entire path the drone should have taken to RTH but it was no where in sight. Had the drone landed, it should have been found in that area. Either way, regardless of what happened on control after the signal was lost, the drone should have been traveling in the direction of home as that's what is set by default. During that time signal was lost, there was no connection from controller to drone. Connection was never reestablished. It was after I realized the drone was not coming back that I tried other means to prevent it flying towards the building.... the drone had already been at the perimeter of maximum flying distance so it couldn't have gone farther.
 
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Very strange, it tried to RTH at least 3 times, you cancelled it once or more. It tried to come home, the distance was getting smaller. But the RTH was set to 98 feet, but you kept taking it up to MAX altitude of nearly 400 feet. There were many warnings of Airspace, GPS mismatches, yet you continued to fly away from home, you must have done it, it was higher than the RTH setting. It appeared to get closer to you several times, but you apparently took control and moved it further from you and higher. Plus you appeared to have attempted to change flight modes, but it must have been set to Single Flight Mode and would not let you.
So, what were you doing all that time, why did you keep flying away from you when trouble started, rather than bringing it home? Seems like you were either very confused or disoriented.
Hope you find it, but I doubt it was a failure, there was nothing there that I saw to indicate that.:(

Are you referring during the flight (before 12 min)? Trouble started after the 12 minute mark. The drone lost signal earlier in flight and in those instances it was set at RTH until I retrieved signal once again. Once it had came close enough and signal was reestablished, I cancelled RTH and would manually fly it. That typically would happen with my drone... but there was no trouble then. It was only after the 12 minute mark when it was set to RTH that trouble started because it never did follow instruction of the final RTH unlike it did the previous times. I believe that's what DJI will be investigating. I hope it's found and returned. Someone called me that they have it, had me confirm the story and if it was mine, and I went to Western Union to transfer him $325 he requested to send it back to me. But after second doubts, I asked him to send me a photo of the drone, and he suddenly turned aggressive yelling every curse word in the book that I don't trust him. Despite that I kept my cool and kept my kindness, talked to him for an hour, but he just kept mocking me. I figured he took advantage of my lost and found post and it was a scam. No sane person would have reacted like that.
 
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Are you referring during the flight (before 12 min)? Trouble started after the 12 minute mark. The drone lost signal earlier in flight and in those instances it was set at RTH until I retrieved signal once again. Once it had came close enough and signal was reestablished, I cancelled RTH and would manually fly it. That typically would happen with my drone... but there was no trouble then. It was only after the 12 minute mark when it was set to RTH that trouble started because it never did follow instruction of the final RTH unlike it did the previous times. I believe that's what DJI will be investigating. I hope it's found and returned. Someone called me that they have it, had me confirm the story and if it was mine, and I went to Western Union to transfer him $325 he requested to send it back to me. But after second doubts, I asked him to send me a photo of the drone, and he suddenly turned aggressive yelling every curse word in the book that I don't trust him. Despite that I kept my cool and kept my kindness, talked to him for an hour, but he just kept mocking me. I figured he took advantage of my lost and found post and it was a scam. No sane person would have reacted like that.
A fellow had an issue, it had to do with signal loss, then RTF. Obstacles between it an home, in this case a tree, stopped the drone as sensors saw the tree. His RTH altitude was below the tree, so it hovered waiting reconnection, that didn't happen, so it emergency landed at 10%, into a treetop.
Unless you recover IT, you don't get the flight logs from it, which can provide answers. But a building could easily have blocked the RTH course, if so, then you would see similar results as I explained.
Best of luck.:)
 

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As pointed out above, it's no surprise that it disconnected - at an altitude AGL of 300 ft it flew behind a building that is 380 ft high:

Untitled 2.jpg


If it continued at 15 mph for 3 seconds (66 ft) it would have been directly behind that building when it attempted to RTH and, since it was already above its RTH height of 98 ft it would not have cleared it. I would expect it to have auto-landed at the end of that building:

Untitled 4.jpg
 
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