Some readers asked what does headless mode mean for drones. Well, the answer is quite simple. The headless-mode causes the quadcopter to fly always precisely in the direction in which one steers the remote control. This is not so without headless-mode. As long as you let the model fly away from you, i.e., look behind the model, it is like sitting in the model. If you move the control stick to the left, the model flies to the left. If you move the control stick to the right, the quadcopter flies to the right as well.
This changes immediately when you fly a 180° curve, i.e., turn around. Now the model flies towards you, and the pilot’s confusion is very big at the beginning. Everything is still correct from the aircraft’s point of view, but for the pilot on the ground, everything is now upside down.
If he steers to the left, the model flies from his view to the right all at once. Experienced model pilots don’t mind; they always think from the model’s point of view anyway. Less experienced pilots, especially those who started with quadcopters in the first place, find it harder to get into model flying.
As long as you can see the model well, and it has enough height, the change may not be that important. It is different if you have lost sight of the model or if you have to control it precisely. The headless-mode makes the model fly exactly as you steer it. No matter where the nose points to, it moves like your stick. If you pull it towards you, the model flies towards you. Left is left and right is right, always. The headless mode is also called Directional Command Mode (DCM).
What Does Headless Mode Mean
Loosing sight of your drone
Some people will say that this could not happen to them. But we say it will happen to any drone pilot: You literally lose sight of your drone. You start, let the model fly high, and follow it with your eyes. Against the white and blue sky, you can see the model very well.
Then you have to blink, or you look at the display of your remote control, or you look away for other reasons. And then? Then you look at the sky; you think you know exactly where your model is and are very surprised that you can’t find it again.
You can hear the engines faintly, but it will be impossible to visualize the quadcopter. With a winged drone, you would now wiggle your wings and fly a circle in the hope of being able to perceive these flight movements. With a small drone, this is of no use. Because you do not know in which direction it will fly when you steer, you would only fly the quadcopter further away from you.
Therefore, you should follow the basic rule that you take the corresponding height if you fly far away. First, you bring the drone down a bit. This may enable you to hear it better and to locate it. If you now pull the control towards you, the quadcopter should also fly towards you again.
Precise Control Of Your Drone
Straight quadcopters with a camera are often used to fly close to objects or buildings to film them. In our example, you want to film from a riverbank to know how a bridge looks like.
You want to fly close to the bridge and then film the whole bridge sideways. If you are now very close to the bridge, you have to steer very precisely. Otherwise, the drone will collide with the building quickly. The headless-mode makes this control much easier.
Because the model follows the joystick movements exactly and does not reverse its function, you can fly backward away from the bridge and take great shots with the camera.
Exactly What Does Headless Mode Mean
Some manufacturers do not allow to simply switch on the headless-mode during flight. This would lead to unexpected results. For these drones, the transmitter and the quadcopter must be aligned precisely the same when switching on the headless-mode. This means that the copter has to fly or point away from the remote control in a straight axis.
Many hobby pilots recommend that you should learn to control the quadcopter WITHOUT headless-mode. Once you have internalized the constantly changing motion sequences of the model by intensive practice, you will often be able to handle the model more safely and better without the headless-mode. This is especially important if you want to learn how to fly a real helicopter model after flying a quadcopter.