How To Avoid a Phantom Fly Away

You’re enjoying a quick fly of your Phantom Quadcopter on a bright sunny day, when suddenly your Phantom goes further and further away from you. You try to swing your control stick towards you to bring it back but it doesn’t respond. You enable the Auto Go Home feature and it still doesn’t respond.  This situation is called a ‘Fly Away’. Though uncommon, Fly Aways happen from time to time and most commonly affect the original Phantom quadcopter.

Online blogs and forums are dedicated to offering quadcopter flyers advice on the problem with many users not understanding why or when this issue happens.

What is a Phantom Fly Away?

A Fly Away is when a user loses control of their quadcopter, as it flies away.

What causes a Fly Away?

Usually a Fly Away can be linked to one of three things; Radio interference, loss of a GPS lock or incorrect calibration. 

Radio interference can be caused by competing signals from mobile networks, Wi-Fi networks, or by using poor quality 2.4 GHz remote control units. Wi-Fi jammers can also interfere with a remote control radio signal. Wi-Fi jammers block incoming Wi-Fi signals to protect companies or organisations from unwanted intrusions.

GPS loss occurs when the quadcopter cannot reconnect to GPS satellites or when the copter’s on-board compass loses its effect.  Once the copter’s NAZA controller loses too many satellites, it will abort from GPS Mode and set itself into Altitude Mode. With this mode on, the Phantom will only hold its height and can be carried away by strong winds.

Both the GPS and Compass are very important parts of the Phantom and if damaged, can result in flight failure. Both these parts assist with flight stability and control and need to be correctly calibrated to ensure safe fighting.

Common causes of GPS Loss

  • A damaged GPS antenna (possibly after a recent crash).
  • High trees blocking a GPS signal.
  • Magnetic fields close to the Phantom’s Compass.
  • Flying the Phantom before waiting for the second wave of green light flashes, which indicate a stored ‘Home’ location.
  • Failure to follow set up instructions as per the DJI instructional manual.
  • Misunderstanding of flight controls.

DJI Fly Away Response Video

How to avoid a Fly Away

Learn to fly your Phantom without the GPS enabled. This will help you know how to control it if GPS loss ever occurs.

Update your firware and software regularly. The latest firmware updates for both the remote and the quadcopter can be found on the DJI website. A PC programme called NAZA Assistant (also available on the DJI site); will help any user easily upload system updates onto the Phantom.

Here is an extract from an email a customer of ours, who lost and then found his Phantom, sent in.

I put up some reward posters with a picture of what she (The Phantom) looks like and a map of where I thought she might have gotten to. A few days later she once again returns!

What happened?

Two boys where happily playing outside when they see the impossible: a small but very real flying saucer crash landing into the vegetation near their house. One of them runs inside, exclaiming: ‘Mommy, mommy! We just saw a flying saucer!’

Mommy lovingly, but unaffected responds: “yes dear, would you like some juice?” and the event passes.

A few days later; after passing through the checkout at spar the same little boy gets exited once more, “Mommy look! That is the flying saucer!” The boy points to a well-placed reward poster they pass while leaving the shop.

The rest is basically small town charm and good will. But it feels good to have her back.

She flew 1km unaided, over a very wide river (70% of the flight), a national road, and of course 2 sprightly young lads, to find a cushy clump of Eastern Cape thicket. She will soon return to active duty. – Jean Jacques Theron

DJI have tried to help curb Fly Aways by releasing newer models which are less susceptible to GPS disconnections and compass damage. The Phantom 2 and Phantom 2 Vision are good examples of these. Both are available from Action Gear at competitive prices.  

For any DJI related questions or purchase requests contact us by email – or telephone – 011 781 1323. To view our range of DJI Quadcopters and accessories, visit our website on