How to Get a Drone Out of a Tree





Introduction: How to Get a Drone Out of a Tree

About: I am a Maryland based RC hobbyist, robot builder, and programmer. I currently have over 20 ideas in the making, ready for instructables. Thank you to this fantastic community which has given me so much over ...

Getting your new drone stuck in a tree can be extremely frustrating. Not only does it force you to hang up the controller for the last time, but it also leaves you with a feeling of dejectedness for the next 2 years, or until you get a new one. However, there are a few steps that you can take, (Besides prevention, of course) to get your drone out of a tree.

Here is a link to flite test's amazing tutorial as to how

Step 1: Climb the Tree

Simple. The best way to get a drone out of a tree is to just climb the tree. Unless its above the height of 20 feet, you can place a ladder at the bottom of the tree, get as high as you can, and then extend a pole or broomstick up to the height of the drone, and bat it down.

Step 2: Get a Long Pole or Ladder

The other simplest way to get a drone down from a tree is to attempt to poke, beat, or bat the thing down with a long pole or other long, flat object. Be careful that it doesn't hit you though! Another good way to get the thing down is using a ladder. This is the most obvious way to do it. If this doesn't work, move on to step three.

Step 3: The Throw Weight

So... If you are reading this far, you probably have tried everything and it didn't work. This is the number one trick I would use in the rescue and recovery of all craft, not just drones.

1. Take a large heavy object (make sure you can throw it a fair distance)

2. Tie some light fishing line to it (Make sure it's snug enough. Give it a test throw)

3. Walk about 100ft down the field or whatever area is under the tree

4. Unwind the line as you walk

5. Go back to your starting point.

Now comes the fun part

1. Throw the line over the part of the tree that the craft is stuck on. Be sure you overshoot a bit (a bit to the left or right will work just fine. On the craft will break it)

2. Shake. Be sure to keep cycling the part of the line that is rubbing on the tree so that it's not breaking and you have to repeat the process.

3. Shake the line until the thing falls down. You may have to cut the line and repeat until you've found a good angle of attack on the craft.

4. Pat yourself on the back. You've rescued the thing yourself! Congratulations!

Step 4: Dart Gun

Using a cheap foam dart gun such as the Nerf N-Strike Elite Retaliator can help to bump your drone down a few branches, hopefully putting it within range of your ladder on long pole.

Step 5: Water

This should only be used as a LAST RESORT. Using a hose to blow the drone down is a good idea, but chances are, unless you have an AVIAX drone, the thing isn't going to be flying anytime soon. If this doesn't work, then try the next step, but proceed with caution.

Step 6: Fire Department

Calling the fire department should only be used as a last resort, and can land you in jail in some cases, if you're not careful.

Step 7: The Grand Lift of Amazingness

So this is probably the first thing that you should do if you do, in the event of a crash, get your plane stuck up in a tree. This is by far the most efficient, as it involves the least amount of space, and can raise itself the highest to free even the most up-there planes. (No pun intended). IF you need a lift, you should call your local rent-a-center, or some other alternative.

Step 8: Know When to Give Up

Unless your drone is worth more than $80, then give up when you've had enough, wait for the next storm, or try getting someone else to take it down. Remember, your life is more important than your aerial filming platform.



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    On my first flight I had my drone stuck about 75 feet up in a tree with minimal battery power. I tried to get it to lift itself straight up, which it couldn't do. Then on a whim I pushed the stick all the way to the right. The props on the left gave a good push, flipping the drone to the right and over the branch. It tumbled out of the tree. It did bounce a little, but it lived to fly again.

    I realize this is an old thread but I’m hoping that by sharing how I successfully got my drone down when it was stuck some 60’ in a tree for nearly 3 weeks will help someone else in a similar situation.

    I had the same problem. My drone was stuck about 60' up in a tree for nearly 2 weeks. This is how I got mine down. I took a large Kong biscuit ball (the Kongs are solid rubber and have some weight to them as they are intended for dogs who basically can tear apart any other ball/toy (I have an American Bulldog) and the biscuit ball has a whole all the way through the ball) and tied it to the end of a 10ft nylon rope (I figured nylon would be better as was a bit slicker and may slide through the branches easier). This would provide enough strength for me to spin the ball-end of the rope until I generated enough momentum to get the up and over the branch my drone was stuck on. I also had a spool of nylon string (about the size you'd see used for a kite ...nylon for the same reasons but thinner so weight was reduced; this would ensure that the Kong would fall through the tree and back to the ground and not get held up and stuck in the tree by the weight of the rope/string. Basically, I wanted the weight of the rope/string to be less than the weight of the ball....the thinner string also meant that if it did get caught in the tree that I could pull hard enough to snap the string). I ran out about 125' of that laying it on the ground in a switchback/zigzag pattern (and removing any debris (ie. branches) from the ground to prevent the string from becoming entangled). I tied the end of the thicker rope with the ball on one end and the thinner string together and put on some gloves. I then positioned myself in a spot that I felt would geometrically make sense based on the trajectory the ball would make. After taking a few attempts at just swinging the rope around with the ball on the end I felt confident. Considering my first actual attempt to be a practice attempt, on my second attempt the Kong flew above and over the branch that my drone was stuck in and came all the way down to the ground. I now had rope/string hanging down on each side the offending branch. Grabbing both sides of the rope/string I wrapped them around my hands (which had rubber coated gloves on them) and started tugging on the rope, which in turn caused the branch with my drone to started moving/swaying and within 30 seconds I had basically shaken my drone out of the tree.

    BTW, it was a Hubsan X4 H501S that was stuck in the tree.

    drone in tree.png
    5 replies

    Thanks for sharing! I actually tried all of the methods that i listed in the guide. Thats really unfortunate that you got yours stuck all the way up there. I hadnt thought of the Kong Idea, that sounds like it was pretty effective. I basically did the same thing, shaking it down like that. It's nice to know that someone out there thinks along the same lines as I do. Just a quick question for you. Does your drone still work and what was the damage? I'd like to add another section about the damage that you'd expect from the shake method?

    Thanks for sharing your story!


    Yes, it still worked after. I had added some landing gear and when it hit the ground the landing gear actually broke the fall. Initially, I thought that the imaging module for the FPV and photos/video broke. But when I opened it up I discovered that the ribbon cable that connects that board to the flight controller had become disconnected (I'm pretty sure as the result of the fall). Since then it's ironically been a couple of falls from a broken prop and dead battery (both from 30' or less) that have caused the most damage and have resulted in the need to replace the flight controller, GPS board, camera (imaging) module and all 4 motors. That leaves the barometer as the only original part. LOL

    In your original post, you said that it had been up there for three weeks.
    Did it never rain in that period?

    Thank you!! Your post saved my ass yesterday. Got cocky with the drone, managed to fly my drone into a tree about 200 feet away. I was doing a real estate video on a 5 acre horse farm. It was stuck about 60 feet in the air....and I was freaking out. My girlfriend read your post, shared it with me....took about 2 her down....finished the job....thank you....

    That's awesome to hear! Over the years I've benefited so much from what others have posted online that I decided to start repaying in kind. So, I'm happy that my post helped you both recover your drone and finish that job!

    Excellent comments all... Jftr i used a water bottle half full or adjust as needed Using paracord , feed through a small hole in cap u can make with a knife. Tie double or triple knot so it holds. Attach the cap and u have a lightweight but effective throwing device. I used it to remove multiple drones on my property trees. Good luck.
    Btw. You can collapse the empty bottle then cap it and keep with you as easy small emergency recovery.

    The Cheap and simple way to get a drone out of a tree. The good old fashioned plunger that almost everyone has in their bathroom. You would be very surprised at how well this works! Simply throw the plunger up in the air about a 12-18 inches from the Drone. The firm throw of a plunger with the boomerang affect and physics works amazingly well. It saved my son's drone when all the other things tried failed. Good luck.


    I've gotten two drones out of a tree by throwing tennis balls at them. How long this will take you will depend on how high up it is and how accurate can you throw.

    1 reply

    I've heard about that technique. I have a pretty good arm but no aim haha so I haven't been able to do stuff like that! :)

    I would probably buy a second more expensive drone and try to use that to rescue the first. Then get that one stuck in the process. Repeat until the whole tree it's full of drones.

    1 reply

    Well That would be a good idea but it would cost more than getting a replacement drone!

    Thanks. I figured I should share these techniques with the rest of the DIY community!