Flying Drones in Cold Temperatures

Living and working in Oklahoma, we are subject to colder temperatures, but as the weather gets colder, the drone is not affected. Safety is Oklahoma Drone Photography’s (ODP’s) number one concern, winds are the biggest issue for drone pilots, not temperatures.  Many people may think that drones cannot fly when the temperatures plummet, but cold temperatures do not affect the overall performance of the Phantom drone, and in some cases enhance it. We take precautions to flying in colder temperatures to ensure quality photos and video are still captured, and to ensure the safety of the aircraft and the subjects below.

5 Effects of Cold Temperatures on a Drone:

Icing on the Props

Oklahoma winters are colder and can be either a dry or humid state depending on if the air comes from the north or south. If we’re dealing with a wet/cold (i.e. more humid) week, then we watch out for icing. When cool air passes over a warm surface, fog will form, so we make sure to never fly when we can’t see the drone.

Moisture in the Gimbal

This is a concern any time of year, but with snow, ice, and melt (and slush from salted roads), it’s even more of a concern in winter. We do not pilot the drone if any precipitation is falling from the sky. Not only is it dangerous, but the gimbal and our camera lens will be saturated in water which creates blurry images and videos. If there is snow on the ground, we can hand launch or launch from a plastic sheet or on top of our carrying case to cut down on elemental exposure.

Battery Life is Shorter

We currently have multiple batteries for our drone. Normally a battery will last for 20 minutes of flying time, but in cold temperatures, we get even less time. We make sure to keep bring all batteries on our photo shoots. While one is in use, the others are charging in a warm vehicle to ensure unlimited flight time.

Cold Fingers

We’ve all been exposed to cold temperatures and don’t need to be told how to keep our hands warm. Having said that, we fly by technology. Our Pilot’s hands and fingers are exposed to the elements each time he steps foot onto a property. Since eyes have to be on the drone at all times, there is not flying from inside a warm car or building. So, when temperatures are really bad there are flying gloves we use with thermal insulation and TouchTec technology.

Higher Air Density

As air becomes cooler, it also becomes more dense. This is actually a positive attribute to cold weather for flight. Propellers, wings, and rotors cut through and use the air to support an aircraft, and when it is more dense, there is more control, lift, and better flight all around.