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I wrote an older article about problems flying DJI drones in Columbus, GA and this article is an update about changes of the no fly zone. After purchasing a Phantom 4 advanced drone approximately 2 years ago, I didn’t know about the problems I was going to have flying this drone in Columbus, GA. No other place in the USA has the largest no fly zone and I have to assume it’s because of Fort Benning although I didn’t need flight approval to fly on Panama City Beach in Florida next to Eglin Air Force Base. I can understand having a no fly zone over Fort Benning and the Columbus, GA airport but the entire city of Columbus GA and part of Phenix City, AL is a no fly zone which is ridiculous. In order to fly a DJI drone in this area, you must submit a request to DJI online which consist of giving the flight controller serial number, latitude and longitude of property to fly over, personal identification, height and radius in meters and date range. Keep in mind you are requesting flight permission from a Chinese company who manufactures DJI drones. Yes, you heard it right, DJI controls the airspace for flying DJI drones over Columbus, GA.
After submitting your flight request to DJI, it can take one or two days to get approved or denied. Several times I have been denied because I requested too high of an altitude. The closer you get to the Columbus, GA airport you are restricted to lower altitudes which is approximately 300 feet or less. The further you fly your drone from the airport you can request higher altitudes of around 400 feet or more. In the past this no fly zone extended to southern parts of Harris County GA but that has changed recently. Now anything north of highway 315 is not a no fly zone. You can view this no fly zone by going online and searching for the DJI Geo Map. You can also submit your flight request by searching for DJI unlocking request. When you purchase your drone don’t expect the sales representative to tell you about this because they more than likely don’t know about it. This is the main reason I’m writing these articles is to inform perspective buyers of DJI drones what to expect before making that final purchase.
There is a new drone on the market made by Xaomi called the MI and there are much less restrictions for flying in Columbus, GA. If my Phantom 4 advanced ever craps out, this is the one I will definitely purchase. You can check out my drone blog and read the full article on the MI drone. It has most of the features of the Phantom 4 at half the price. It shoots in 4K, has automated flight programs and more flight time than the Phantom 4. Unfortunately there are no repair centers in the US for the MI drone but DJI has a repair center in California for all their drones. I have seen 4K pictures and videos from the MI and they are on par with the Phantom 4. In fact there are some features it has that the Phantom 4 doesn’t have. When it’s on sale, you can pick it up for around $500 or less on the Gear Best website.
I don’t know what the batteries cost for the MI drone but the Phantom 4 batteries are around $140 and the ones I’ve bought online don’t last as long as the one that came with the drone. The arms on the MI fold in making it more portable and the extended flight time is probably due to being very light weight. This makes me concerned when flying it in heavy winds which the Phantom 4 seems to do well in. One feature the MI doesn’t have is obstacle detection but hope this feature will be available in the near future. The Phantom 4 advanced has obstacle detection in the front only while the Pro version has this all around. This comes in handy when flying sideways or backwards so you don’t crash into something which I’ve done a couple of times. An expensive repair bill has made me more cautious flying around trees, buildings and power lines.
In my opinion DJI still makes the top dog drone however Xaomi seems to be closing the gap. If anyone has problems flying their drone, contact me by filling out the form on the contact page and I’ll respond as soon as I can. If you are thinking of starting a real estate drone service company in Columbus, GA, I would definitely not recommend because most real estate agents don’t have a budget to support this. All agents have to pay an expensive monthly fee to be on the broker’s team. You might be lucky enough to get the expensive properties for sale but that is few and far between. Good luck and happy drone flying!