We have been very disciplined about flying the drone over the last five years and have completed more than 250 flights without incident. While the drone is not overly complicated, there are a lot of moving parts that need to be in sync. To manage this, we have a preflight checklist, just like airline pilots. We don't want to lose an expensive piece of equipment, not to mention the need for the safety of ourselves, and those around us, so the checklist is followed religiously, almost always.
Also, flying from a moving object (boat), whether at anchor, or while sailing, creates unique challenges. It requires two people for takeoff and landing, boat movement impacts both, and the boat is not at the takeoff point immediately after the drone takes flight. The drone software has a very nice feature to return the drone to the takeoff point if there is a problem, but on a moving, or spinning, or heeling boat, the takeoff point quickly becomes water.
Today we got a little lax in the flight process and didn't use the check list. We were in one of our favorite Sardinia anchorages, Cala Garibaldi, La Maddalena. It was crowded with boats, so the appropriate action was to take the drone straight up to 100 feet so to avoid any nearby masts in the cala.
After it settled at 100 feet an alarm sounded that there was a critical power shortage, and the drone was "landing". The boat had moved about 10 feet from the takeoff point ,so if the drone landed it would make a big splash.
Attempts to cancel the landing were ineffective. Avoidance maneuvers were required to offset the drone's desire to land. Pushing the drone to climb, while moving it toward the boat, seemed to stabilize it momentarily, but the drone seemed intent on going swimming. At the last second, it came close enough for a one-handed grab as it descended toward the water. A lucky catch and rescue from a certain death in the Mediterranean Sea.
Turned out the iPad battery was low. While the drone and drone control battery levels had been checked, the iPad slipped through the cracks. Lesson learned, follow the checklist.