7 Best High Altitude Drones in 2019 – Buying Guide for Beginners

7 Best High Altitude Drones in 2019 – Buying Guide for Beginners

Do you want your quad to fly higher? Are you looking for a high altitude drone?

Do you know that flight range and altitude aren’t the same? Many thought that these two are the same, but they are not.

Just because the drone has a flight range of 300 meters doesn’t mean that it can fly 300 meters straight up in the air. The quad has to be specifically built to work at high altitudes to do so.

If you are looking for high altitude drones, you are on the right page. Look no further because I’ll be giving you a list of the best high altitude drones in the market.

Best High Altitude Drones

There are tons of drones in the market and searching for the one you are looking for could be daunting and time-consuming. So, I compiled the best high altitude drones in the market for you!

Let’s get started

1. DJI Mavic Pro

Specs

Max altitude: 8,200ft
Range: 7km
Camera Resolution: 12mp
Video Resolution: 4k at 30fps
Max Flight Time: 27min
Max Speed: 40mph

Phantom series especially Phantom 2 was the drone with the highest altitude. The company decided to stop manufacturing this model, but they bring us the Mavic series!

Mavic Pro has an altitude of 8,200 feet. A drone enthusiast was able to pull this off by flying Mavic Pro 8,200 feet over the sea on the island of Milos. You can check out his video and see for yourself how he did it. He also shared some tips on how you can check the wind speed on various altitudes before flying your drone, which is very helpful.

Mavic Pro is a small but powerful drone. Due to its foldable and compact design, it is very easy to take this along with your wherever you go.

The best thing with this quad is that it is equipped with all the features you need for a safe and convenient flying experience. It has 24 high-performance computing core, an all-new transmission system with 5 vision sensors.

If you are into photography, this comes with a 4K camera stabilized by a 3-axis mechanical gimbal. With just a push of your thumb or a tap of your finger, you can control this drone.

Also, the reduction in size doesn’t mean a reduction in flight time because this can fly up to 27 minutes. This drone also comes with FlightAutonomy technology that senses obstacles up to 49ft away allowing the drone to bypass them or brake to hover to reduce accidents and crashes. This also uses satellite positioning and forward and downward vision sensors so it can hover precisely indoors or even in places without GPS.

Mavic Pro is one of the best drones that you will ever find in the market. If you need a drone for high altitude flying, you need to check this out.

PROS

  • Portable
  • Crash-resistant
  • Obstacle avoidance
  • Long range drone
  • Quieter than other drone models
  • Can be controlled via hand gestures
  • Has built-in Active track feature mode
  • Has excellent flight time compared to other DJI models

CONS

  • Camera doesn’t offer a wide view
  • Not for beginners due to complex models
  • Bad light may have blue color interferences

2. Autel Robotics X-Star Premium

Specs

Max altitude: 3,281ft
Dimensions: 19.5 x 19.5 x 8.5in
Weight: 3.2lbs
Flight time: 25min
Range: 1.93km
Charge time: 90min
Camera: 4K Ultra HD

X-Star Premium is designed to give users the best flying experience. If you are into high altitude drones, this quad is something that you have to consider.

Autel Robotics X-Star Premium is so good that some compared this to DJI Phantom 4. This comes with 1000 meters altitude and unlike the Phantom models, this isn’t restricted. You have to be responsible when piloting this because it’s up to you if you stick to the legal limits.

Aside from being one of the best high altitude drones, this quad is very safe and stable. It also comes with an intelligent flight control system called GLONASS satellite navigation and dual GPS, thanks to its Starpoint Positioning System (SPS). These features make this quad one of the best GPS drones in the market today.

SPS measures the drone’s flying height and optically tracks its position which is very helpful for a safer flight. For more fun and convenient flying experience, this comes with a free and intuitive Starlink App. It lets you view HD video freed from the 4K camera to your mobile device. You can also adjust the camera settings and flight controls through the app.

Robotics X-Star Premium enables you to capture stunning photos and videos. However, there is no lens cover for the camera so you’ve got to be very careful. Also, this doesn’t come with a collision avoidance feature, so you have to take full responsibility in sensing the obstacles to avoid unexpected crashes and accident.

Although it lacks some features that you can easily find in other quadcopters, this drone remains one of my favorite high altitude drones because it gives you more freedom to control the aircraft.

PROS

  • Great design
  • Safe and stable
  • Impressive camera
  • Simple controller
  • Awesome live HD range
  • Includes memory card
  • Modular design and features
  • Unique SecureFly technology

CONS

  • Big compared to foldable drones

3. DJI Spark

Specs

Altitude: 1,640ft
Dimensions: 143×143×55mm
Flight time/battery life: 16min
Transmission distance: 1.2mi
Speed: Up to 31mph
VPS Range: 98ft
Gimbal: 2 axis
Camera resolution: 12MP
Video resolution: 1080p 30fps
Weight: .66 pounds (SUPER light)
Camera details: 1/2.3 Sensor Powerful Lens, 1080P resolution
Notable attributes: PalmLaunch, Gesture and TapFly Control, Obstacle Sensing, Subject Tracking from Various Angles

Spark is a mini camera drone from DJI, but this is very powerful. It comes with all of the brand’s signature technologies and so much more.

Although this is small, it is very competitive. It can be flown at high altitudes with ease. One drone enthusiast hacked Spark and was able to fly it beyond its maximum altitude at 4,400 meters. I don’t recommend that you follow it, but it shows the full potential of this mini drone.

Sparks also comes with a very impressive camera stabilized by 2-axis gimbal for shake-free shots. Its powerful lens also delivers shard and vivid images consistently with minimal color aberration and distortion.

With Spark’s 1/2.3 inch sensor to shoot stabilized video at 1080p and still photos at 12mp, you will surely love its output. Also, this is very handy because it is small, so you may want to bring this along on your next trips and adventures.

Spark is smart, reliable and intuitive. It is very easy to use and comes with intelligent flight modes making it easy for everyone both pros and beginners to pilot this. So, I highly recommend this.

PROS

  • Portable
  • Gestures controls
  • Quickshot modes
  • Control, edit and share via DJI GO  app

CONS

  • Short flight time
  • Wi-Fi range is limited
  • No controller

4. Hubsan H502S

Specs

Maximum Altitude: 492ft
Dimensions: 165 x 165 x 60mm
Weight: 147g
Battery: 7.4V 610mAh Li-Po
Flight Time: 13min
Controller Frequency: 2.4GHz
Operating Range: 300 meters (984 feet)
Camera: 720p HD

Hubsan H502S is a nice entry done because it is packed with amazing features. Among the best thing about this is its high altitude because this can reach up to 492 feet.

This comes with a 720p camera for decent photos and videos. It also supports FPV. That’s not all, this comes with very useful features like Return to Home, GPS, Headless Mode and Follow Me Function. This is also equipped with Failsafe features to ensure a safe flying experience.

Overall, this is an entry-level quad, but it’s one of the best high altitude drones that you will ever find in the market. It also comes with the powerful features that make flying easy and convenient, so beginners will surely enjoy this, too.

PROS

  • Fun and easy to fly
  • Altitude Hold
  • Return to Home
  • Failsafe function
  • Fast charging
  • FPV video feed
  • GPS navigation

CONS

  • Short flight time
  • Brushed motors
  • Low FPV fps
  • Camera could be improved

5. Xiro Xplorer Aerial V

Specs

Maximum Altitude: 1968ft
Dimensions: 376 x 353 x 162mm
Weight: 1220 grams (2.7 pounds)
Battery: 11.1V 5200mAh Li-Po 3S
Flight Time: 25min
Controller Frequency: 5.8GHz
Operating Range: 1640ft
Maximum Speed: 34mph
Camera: 14mp 1080p

Xiro is one of the world’s leading drone pioneers. They bring us Xplorer V one of the most attractive drones in the market. Aside from being beautiful, it can fly higher than most drones in its category.

This can go up to 1,968 feet in the air. Since this is beyond the 400 meters limit, you should be very careful as it can be really dangerous. Aside from the high altitude, you will surely love this even more because it can last up to 25 minutes in the air.

This also comes with full HD FPV camera mounted on a 3-axis gimbal that enables it to capture stable photos and footage consistently. This can capture 14mp still photos and record smooth videos like a pro at 1080p at 30fps.

Among the great things about this drone is its smart features. The Return to Home function is automatically activated when the connection is lost or in a low battery for safety. Also, it auto shut-down after landing to prevent accidents.

Xiro Xplorer V is durable, smart, and safe to fly. So, I highly recommend this.

Read More: Best Drones with Longest Flight Time: Buying Guide for Beginners

PROS

  • Compact and solid design
  • Modular design
  • Handy remote control
  • Easy and safe to fly
  • Has safety features
  • Automatic takeoff/landing
  • Stable aerial video
  • Solid operating range

CONS

  • Phone clip is too small
  • Video limited to 1080p
  • Lens shows significant barrel distortion
:

6. Yuneec Q500 4K Typhoon

Specs

Dimensions: 420x420x210mm
Weight: 1,130g
Altitude: 3,280ft
Flight range: 100m
Camera: 12mp
Flight time: 25min
Charge time: 2hr

Yuneec Q500 Typhoon 4K is another amazing drone in this category. It can go up to 1000 meters and has a very impressive flight time up to 25 minutes.

This high altitude quadcopter can effortlessly soar to the FAA’s maximum height limit for amazing aerial footage. Its flight range is not bad but it’s not as good as the other drones in the class.

This comes with an impressive camera stabilized by 3-axis gimbal that enables it to shot 12mp still photos and record professional-level videos at 30fps. That’s not all; this camera drone also excels in capturing 1080p at 120fps slow-motion videos perfect to document your action adventures.

Its camera features a distortion-free 115-degree lens that allows for realistic shots and it also comes with SteadyGrip feature that helps you capture stable shots while on the go as if you’re a pro.

Q500 4K Typhoon is a superstar when you are looking for a high altitude drone but it’s not a fast drone. Its maximum speed is only 18mph, so yes, it’s quite slow although not the slowest one in the market.

Despite its flaws, this drone performs well minus the speed. Also, for a more convenient flying experience, this comes with Watch Me, Follow Me and Return to Home features which make piloting it so easy for beginners. So, will I recommend this? Of course!

PROS

  • Impressive camera
  • Stable and steady
  • Captures smooth and stable videos
  • Has integrated LCD into the controller

CONS

  • No collision avoidance
  • Easily affected by winds

7. Traxxas Aton

Specs

Maximum Altitude: 394ft
Dimensions: 262 x 472 x 94mm
Weight: 860g
Wingspan: 370mm
Controller frequency: 2.4GHz
Operating Range: 656ft
Battery: 11.1V 5000mAh Li-Po 3S
Flight Time: 20 minutes
Maximum Speed: 50mph
LED lights: Yes

Traxxas Aton is a very cool drone with an amazing design. It is small but incredible because, despite its size, it is fast and can fly at high altitude.

This drone has a maximum altitude of 394 feet and a maximum speed of around 50mph. Some consider this quad a proper racing aircraft because aside from its speed, it is durable, too. It can survive knocks and crash landings.

Aton offers three modes to give you maximum flying freedom. You can use the Film mode to capture beautiful videos and images with its easy to use controls. Sport mode offers you speedy and more athletic flight experience. Meanwhile, Expert mode unlocks the drone’s full performance capability and are recommended for advanced users.

Also, this can fly up in the air for up to 20 minutes. Aside from long flight time, this has dual-mode GPS and Return to Home feature, which are very helpful for beginners. For a safer flight at night, this also comes with high-visibility colorful LED lights that users can customize.

Traxxas Aton doesn’t come with a built-in camera, but it has a fixed camera mount that supports the external camera, so you can use your action camera to shoot amazing photos and videos using this drone.

Overall, Aton is a great drone! It is easy and fun to fly, and it is very powerful!

Read More: 7 Best Pocket Drones: Buying Guide for Beginners

PROS

  • Smart design with a rugged build
  • Three modes for maximum flying freedom
  • Two-axis gimbal is compatible with most GoPro cams
  • 20-minute flight time with Film mode

CONS

  • 10-minute flight time with Sport mode
  • Not the best drone for beginners
  • Only for low weight action cameras

When Do You Need a High Altitude Drone

High altitude drones are mostly used in aerial photography, videography or filming because they are cheaper alternatives to helicopter or airplane shots.

They are also lightweight and most models come with 6-axis gyroscopes, so they are extremely stable, which makes them all the more suitable for photography, videography or filming. High altitude drones were used in filming motion pictures like “Skyfall” and “Captain America: Civil War.”

High altitude drones are also very useful in other applications like mapping and modeling tasks. You can also use this for roof inspections and other recreational purposes.

How High Can a Drone Fly?

The maximum altitude of the drone depends on many factors like its design, the materials use and even the environment during the flight like the speed of the wind. DJI Phantom 2 had the highest maximum altitude up to 11,000 feet. However, DJI has already stopped manufacturing this model.

You have to be very careful if you have a high altitude drone because each area has certain rules when it comes to the allowed altitude. Flying high beyond 400 feet is illegal without a waiver in the US and 500 feet in Europe.

Flying the drone beyond the recommended altitude increases the risk of seriously hurting or even killing someone if it falls. Also, there’s a risk of colliding it with an aircraft.

Tips When Flying Drones at High Altitude

You need to be well-equipped and prepared when flying your drone at a high altitude. Here are some tips that you may need to do to pull this off successfully.

Get an FAA waiver. The normal limit of flying drones is 400 feet. So, if you have plans on flying your quad beyond this, you need to get an FAA waiver.

Familiarize the airspace. One of the things that FAA’s waiver review team pays special attention to is your knowledge about the airspace. You have to remain visible to other aircraft and yield the right of way to them. You have to let them know how you want to accomplish this for your application to be approved.

Also, you need to be aware of any class of airspace and the frequency and type of traffic in those locations. If you are flying close to an airport, you need to know whether the runways face the operation, leading to incoming and outgoing traffic. If you are near a military operation, you need to know their scheduled activity.

Maintain the visual-line-of-sight requirement. Visual contact must always be maintained unless you have a separate beyond-line-of-sight waiver. This is enforced for safety, but remember that this is harder to maintain when you are flying the drone at high altitudes.

Also, it’s harder to see that line of sight to determine the position of your quad reliably. While you might be sure of its location, altitude, and direction, how can you be sure that it’s flying at 2,000 feet especially if there’s a slow-moving cloud layer behind it giving you a false sense of movement?

Flying a drone at high altitude isn’t just a walk in the park. You need to be careful when you do so. If you don’t have any experience, make sure to work with one and exert an effort to familiarize the airspace before the flight.

Conclusion

High altitude drones are for you if you want a quad that can fly higher. The drones listed above all have high altitude. Aside from this, they have high flight time, great camera, and smart features for an easy and convenient flying experience.

Do you know any other high altitude drone? If you do, feel free to share it with!

Leave a Comment