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I would highly recommend reading this article if you’re living in Columbus, GA and contemplating purchasing a drone, especially a DJI drone. This article is a synopsis of my experience after buying a DJI Phantom 4 Advanced drone over a year ago. There was no information on the internet about what problems were in store for me flying this drone in Columbus, GA.
Since I never had any experience flying a drone, there was the obvious learning curve since the app software is very complex.
This Phantom 4 Advanced drone takes beautiful 4K videos and photos. It has 12 automated flight programs and can also fly it manually. Typical flight time is about 25 minutes on a fully charged battery. At about 15% battery, it will automatically fly back where it took off from and land. Also if the signal is lost between the controller and drone, it will also automatically fly back home and land by itself. It happened to me one time when I was flying it down the Chattahoochee River. Scared me because I thought there goes $2,000 flying away. In a situation with no trees or buildings in the way, you are suppose to get about 3 miles range. It also has sensors in the front of the drone so it will not crash into trees or a building. However, there are no sensors on the side or in the back of the drone and could crash into something. I think the Phantom 4 Pro has sensors all the way around it and is more expensive.
The aircraft comes with a remote controller but you need a cell phone or tablet to interface a USB cable with it. The first thing I noticed after powering it on and locking onto several satellites was a message on the screen saying “no fly zone aircraft can not take off”. At this point I’m very confused as to why I can’t even start the motors and take off. I contacted the manufacture and they told me all of Columbus, GA up to part of Harris County GA is a no fly zone. I went online to their GEO map and sure enough a big red circle was all around Columbus, GA. Needless to say, I’m very pissed at this point. I contacted DJI again and they informed me I need to get permission by emailing them my drone serial number, latitude and longitude of area to fly in, altitude and radius in meters, time frame by dates and a scanned copy of picture identification.
I can only guess this situation of a no fly zone in Columbus, GA is due to the military base at Fort Benning, GA. After emailing DJI the information I described above, it took about 2 days before they emailed me back stating it was denied. I’m even more pissed at this point. I asked why I was denied and they stated I requested above allowed altitude and told me I need to email another request with no more than 91 meters altitude which is about 300 feet. So I emailed another request and it was approved. What’s more crazy is DJI is a Chinese drone manufacturing company controlling the drone airspace over Columbus, GA. Yes, you heard me right!
If you are north of highway 315 in Harris County GA, you don’t need to email a request to DJI, just turn on the drone, wait until it lock onto several satellites and take off. The online DJI map shows the edge of the red no fly circle right on the edge of highway 315. Wished I had known this before purchasing such a very expensive drone. I just wanted the best drone on the market. With the extra 2 batteries I purchased, I have about $2,000 invested in this drone.
Several months later a friend of mine told me he has a drone made by MI company and doesn’t have to get permission to fly it in Columbus, GA. The MI drone is half the price of mine and almost as good in features. So If I ever crash mine or it wears out, I will definitely buy a MI drone. You might want to check out an article I wrote on the MI drone.
I hope this article helps anyone who is considering buying a professional drone. I only wished I had read an article like this before I purchased my DJI Phantom 4 Advanced drone. Good luck and happy flying!