It was a Friday morning like any other — The Kittyhawk team was busy collaborating on new features and shipping code. An update was pending in the app store and there was mild concern that it may not be available for download before everybody left for our weekly “Friday Fly Day.”
My inbox beeped at me with a new email. The subject read: Lost drone. I winced.
One of our users had their drone lose signal and wasn’t sure where it had ended up. He asked if Flight Deck had been able to record any of the real time telemetry before the drone decided it was done flying.
I hopped into our database hoping that maybe the Phantom 3 Professional had been able to send one last ping to our servers. As it happens — it did.
flight deck

I plotted the coordinate on Google Maps, sent him a screen shot and wished him good luck in finding his aircraft. I’ve lost a few aircraft before and despite canvassing the area and putting up “Missing” posters around the neighborhood (yes, really) we never got it back.
A few minutes later, my inbox came to life again. There was a new email from our user and this one had attachments. A lot of attachments. Anticipating the worst, I opened the mail:

Hi Joshua,
I think the problem is that is tried returning to home when it lost signal. As it got closer the signal got strong so I tried flying it again, but it kept trying to land. Once it lost signal again (lots of tall trees you can see), it just kept going down instead of trying to come home again.
But thanks to that data, I was able to find it! It was exactly where it said it would be.
Thanks so much!

Below his thank you note there were pictures. I was shocked at just how improbable this landing was. Through HUGE trees, with tons of branches, in the middle of the forest, presumably low on battery, this drone threaded the needle.

“Threading the needle” is an understatement.

And on the forest floor, almost as if it were waiting, there was this:

drone forest
10 Points for placement and 10 points for style.

“HOLY COW!” I shouted. The team gathered around my screen to see what was going on. It’s one thing to have people using the product but it’s another when the product has hidden benefits. Once Jonathan got his drone back he went and downloaded video of the harrowing landing. It’s even more impressive than the pictures:


If you haven’t given Kittyhawk Flight Deck a try — There has never been a better time. The Kittyhawk team has been hard at work optimizing the code so that it’s buttery smooth. It automatically logs every flight the second you leave the ground with full telemetry that you can access right on your phone.
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To smooth landings, clear skies, and unlimited visibility,
Josh, Jon, and the entire Kittyhawk team.