DJI Mini 3 veers away w/ no stick action

My apologies for posting here concerning an off category subject but a category specific to DJI Mini 3 (not Pro), is not available, yet. Perhaps I can be steered toward help if it’s not available here.
My story, short and terrifying: Early morning, I wanted a specific shot of an old building at early sunrise. As I prepare, a freight train comes along and stops on a nearby side-track, waiting for an oncoming train to pass. While attempting to position my drone, IT Suddenly, with no stick action, moved toward and into the freight train. It crashed into a container and fell down into a crevasse between the container and the actual train car. I began to panic, as I knew the train would continue on its way at any moment. I could just see into the crevasse, the drone was far out of my reach. I’m out of breath, my heart is pounding, sweat is pouring… I love this drone. I walked away beaten. Then I realized I had a step ladder on my truck, using it and some jumper-cables, I mounted my rescue. The oncoming train came and went, I did not look up.
I got it, I rescued my DJI Mini 3. Minimal damage to one set of props.
I have been afraid to fly my drone since. But, I took it out again yesterday… and it veered again, with no stick action. I caught it this time before it crashed.
What next? How can I fly this drone with any confidence? How can I fix this problem? This is my first drone, I’ve had it for about 45 days.

I own a Mini 2, not a Mini 3, but I will throw out some ideas as to the cause, but I cannot say that your drone is safe to fly now (assuming it sustained no damage in the crash, check those propeller real good…)

How many satellites did you have locked in at the time of takeoff, did the controller/App tell you your Home Point had been set, When you took off, did you hover for a short while to ensure your drone was responding correctly (when you do that, the controller/App again reports your Home Point is set…).

Did you just fire up the motors and take off immediately? Not a good practice, your Home Point can get set over a tree, highway, pond, etc…

When your drone suddenly move towards the train without inputs from you, did you have time to try to stop the drone before it hit the train? I’m trying to determine if your drone was unresponsive even to any stick inputs.

If you do not get any help here, you might want to also post on the MavicPilots Web Site,

This web site is very active with all DJI drones and has sub-forums for each DJI Model. If you do want to join, log onto the site, join, Give a short “Howdy I am so and so. I fly the …” in the "Pilot Check In Sub forum and then got to the Mini 3 Sub forum and repost your problem. Be specific, more specific than you have so far, as they say, “Inquiring Minds Want to Know…”

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Thank You ‘Loud Thunder’. Thanks for taking the time to consider my dilemma.
I do practice all the “good” habits you mentioned. I have watched many drone videos before I purchased my drone and I want to do all I can to make this little machine last me as long as possible, including keeping good insurance.
After posting my story, I checked my flight date again and again. I have come to the conclusion that it was indeed operator error. Where I see my last stick is 10ft from the crash but in the direction of the crash and in reverse, as I was deliberately reversing… Also, the ~15mph wind-gusts were in favor of the crash. I now take full responsibility for my crash and will be much more careful.
I also checked the second occurrence… It is inconclusive, however… I will say this “veer” must have also happened due to operator error even though the stick movement does not show on the flight data. I will start from scratch, relearn and practice my operating skills…
I love flying this drone and hope to continue forever… however long that is.
I am grateful for this forum and this community.
Again, I am grateful for your help.
Dr. Ones

Seems that you have access to the flight logs. Why don’t you post them so that others can take a look.

I am glad you may have a reason for your new baby crashing into the train…

Any case, Welcome from the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, USA.

First bit of advice, if your manipulate your control sticks with your thumbs, STOP… Using just your thumbs you can easily put more stick into your maneuver than you intend… Rather, use both your thumb and pointer finger (trigger finger…), this will give you more precise control…

With that being said, as a New Drone Pilot, there are a couple of Legal Things you may need to do…

If you have not already done so, you will need to get your TRUST Certificate. You can get that at the Pilot Institute Web Site (FREE…) . Your Drone weighs less than 250-grams (0.55 pounds) and while you are flying under The Exception for Recreational Flyers, you are not required to register your Drone.

When I first started flying I registered my Mini 2 because the TRUST Certificate and FAA Registration established me as a “certified” Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Pilot.

Link to the TRUST Certificate at the Pilot Institute Web Site (FREE…)

Link to the FAADroneZone (Optional Registration for Drones under 250-Grams…)

If you are considering acquiring your Part 107 License, here is a link to get you going…

Since you live near a “Freight Train”, there are specific laws and rules for you to follow, please check the link below for all the Rules and Laws that are in effect in your neck of the woods and it also links you to some of the Best Places to Fly in your area… Also, if you travel on vacation, visit friends, and relatives in other parts of the country, check back here so you do not run afoul of the law.

Even if you have flown Drones before, here is some Good Old Fashion Advice…

You paid a lot of money for that Drone, put your phone number on it. If your drone gets lost or stuck in a tree and it finally comes down when you are not around, give the finders an opportunity to contact you so it can be returned.

Now, for the Fun Part, But do not let the excitement of the moment get the best of you. When you are going out to fly, do it slowly and deliberately. Get used to a set procedure and even practice it.

There are so many things I could write but these are the highlights that I feel need mentioning.

Plug in your phone/tablet into your controller; turn on the Controller and DJI Fly App (if it does not start on its own…). On the Drone, open the front legs, then open the back legs, then remove the Gimbal Cover.

The Gimbal is the most delicate item on the Drone and banging or bumping can damage it. I also fastened a short “Remove Before Flight” ribbon to the cover so it’s more noticeable and I do not forget to remove it…

Turn on the drone and watch it come to “life.” Watching the Gimbal go through its self-check is almost like watching a kitten or puppy opening its eyes for the first time…

Place the drone down (preferably on a Landing Pad) while it finishes its self-test (collecting satellites, etc…).

Check your battery status (Phone, Drone, and Controller), check the Signal Strength, by now the Controller should have reported it updated the Home Point.

Lift off, 4-5 feet (1-1/2 meters) or so, hover a bit, check the controls (move the drone a bit forward, back, left, right, yaw left and right). By now, your Controller will probably report again, Home point Updated.

If you go out in a rush and race thru your start up and take off before the drone has finished it prep, it may update its Home Point over that pond or that old tree you are flying over and in your excitement, you’ll fly the drone long past it Low Battery point and when it engages Return to Home and lands in the pond or in a tree; it will be all on you…

Now go have fun, learn to fly the drone by sight before you try to fly it out a distance depending on the video feed, FPV.

I would also advise you to use YouTube and watch a lot of the Videos on flying and setting up the Drone. When it is too dark, too cold, or too wet, you can “fly it vicariously” through YouTube. Also watch some of the Blooper Drone Videos and learn how not to fly your “New Baby.”

Below is the link to all of the downloads offered by DJI for the Mini 3 Pro, including the User Manual.

After you read the Manual, read it again, you will be surprised what you missed the first time and you will be better prepared for that first “scary moment…”

Fly On and Fly Safe…

Thanks again for all the great advice.
I have taken the TRUST, The Recreational UAS Safety Test even before I bought my DJI Mini 3. After receiving my drone, I registered it with the FAA just because. I do have my name and FAA registration number as well as my phone number on my drone. I requested and received free stickers from The Pilot Institute.
I have practiced many/ most maybe all the items you mention as good tools for beginners.
This is a huge investment for me and I only have this one shot at it. If I lose it in away that my insurance will not cover, it is lost. I am retired on a fixed income/ 65 years old.
This drone, Rocky, has become to me what ‘Wilson’ was to Tom Hanks.

The hardest thing for me, that you mention is… as Ken Heron calls it, “Pinching” the joysticks. Because you have suggested it again, the next times I fly, I will give it a lot of effort. However, … well… I will give a lot of effort to pinch instead of ‘thumbs only’.

Anyway, thanks again for your help. I imagine the Hampton Road area of Virginia is loaded with very nice, friendly people. I am in New Mexico, also a beautiful state with lots of nice people and scenery.

[quote=“Dr.Ones, post:6, topic:8746”]The hardest thing for me, that you mention is… as Ken Heron calls it, “Pinching” the joysticks.

Well remember that the old expression, “I’m all thumbs…” is based on being “fumble fingered…”

What insurance do you have? I am in my second year with my Mini 2 and I have the DJI Care Refresh Plus (second years cost $39). When that runs out, I’ve heard great things about the State Farm coverage. If you have State Farm, as I do, it’s a simple addition; if not, it costs a bit more but the coverage is the same…

I suggested another web site you might want to join; Try it, you might like it… As I wrote, it gets a lot more action and they have specific sub-forum for each DJI Model…

Good Luck and Fly Safe…

I wouldn’t worry about thumbs vs pinching the sticks. It might make a difference if you were flying a fast fpv drone. But, for a docile drone like the Mini 3 it won’t make much difference. Struggling with trying to learn how to pinch the sticks while being in a tight situation could be a problem.

For the record I’ve been a thumbs guy since I started 7 years ago and have never had a problem. Presently I’m flying the DJI FPV and Avata drones in manual mode which requires some precise stick movements.

I’ve looked at literally hundreds of incidents. So far, stick control has never been the cause of an incident. If you could provide your .txt flight log we may be able to determine the cause of your incident. I’m guessing the cause was an incorrect compass caused by ferrous material like train tracks, etc.

Hello again, Loud Thunder,
I have a lot of difficulty using the ‘pinch’ method. I use the DJI RC- N1 Controller. I use my index finger constantly on the right front button for taking pictures and my left index finger on the camera adjusting wheel for adjusting the angle of my camera and zoom, even in flight. Even without these buttons and wheels, I find it very difficult to hold the controller while pinching the joysticks.
I will continue using my thumbs and know to be very, i.e… much more, careful.

My flymore kit came with, (at a price), a two year extended warranty. I have registered my drone with the insurance and hope I never need it. The insurance purports to cover comprehensive parts and labor. I believe it would have covered my drone, had the freight train stolen it away, as the insurance covers water loss/ unretrievable.
(At the time of the crash, insurance never crossed my mind, my mind was on rescue).
I will continue insurance even after two years. I may consider State Farm, at that time.

Many drone YouTubers, 51 Drones, Idaho Quadcopters and others, indicate moving in reverse and moving sideways are very ‘dangerous’, esp. for new operators. and while I totally agree, I made the mistake of doing both here. I was locating my drone to where I wanted it, I thought I was inching… back and to the left, back and to the left, inch at a time. The drone was less than 75 feet from me and while in the shadow of the building/ target, I could clearly see it. However, the drone moved 10 feet or more after my last stick movement and crashed, left-rear quad first… hard enough to chip those two props and fold that quad into the ‘storage’ position. Then down into the crevasse.
Anyway, every time I think of it, I get chills. For the following couple of days, the thought of flying the drone was horrific.
I’ve eased my way back, going back to my original flight training grounds, reflying my original flights and of course rewatching many of the beginning videos.
I will go back for that shot one day. It will be a year before the sun is back in that exact same spot and perhaps it will take that much time before I have the courage to try again. Gawd, the idea even now gives me chills.
Honestly, having this forum to express and release, (re-live in print), this traumatic experience is rewarding. Very helpful.
Perhaps I will learn to retrieve the flight data from my DJI app and share it on this forum.
Also, I will, in the future, always screen record. It may be beneficial in case of an insurance claim. I was not recording anything while positioning for the above shot.

Ironically, my intended theme for the above shot was, “Life in Reverse”. The shot of old and dilapidated, “the building”, moving up and into a beautiful new day, “the sunrise”.

I had a “mishap” with my Mini 2 a long while back. I was flying to the right (only Right Stick) slowly shooting the tree line. I was about 300 feet away and did not notice that one small sapling was way out in front of the tree line. I hit the sapling and as my mini 2 struggled to right itself, it landed upside down on a dirt road (I did not know it was on the road…). As I am running over to the drone, an old pickup truck came down the road, the driver saw me running across the field and I could see him looking at me and he even waived. After he passed, I found the drone lying very much “flatter” on the road bed. I do not believe the driver ever saw the drone as the beige color of the drone was very similar to the sandy dirt and there was lots of branches, twigs and leaves on the dirt road…

She was crushed, even the battry was thinner… I contacted DJI and they responded in about 1-hour and emailed me a shipping label, I mailed it and the battery off on a Friday, the following Tuesday, they received it, that Wednesday they notified me they were shipping me a new drone and battery and the following Monday, I received my new drone…

I like Care Refresh and that is why I renewed it for a second year. But DJI does not offer this insurance for a third year so that is why I am considering State Farm for the “out-years…”

Good Luck with your future flights!