What Is Headless Mode On A Drone? A Beginners Guide

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Imagine flying your drone with the confidence of an eagle soaring through the sky.

That’s the power of headless mode!

This feature lets you control your drone like a pro, regardless of its orientation. Intrigued? Join us as we unravel the beauty of headless mode.

So what exactly is headless mode?

Headless Mode On A Drone

If you’ve ever played a video game, you know that pushing left on the joystick makes your character go left on the screen, no matter which way they’re facing. That’s what headless mode does for your drone. It makes your drone move the way you want it to, based on your position, not the drone’s.

In other words the headless mode makes the drone move in relation to the direction of the controller, regardless of its own orientation or where its “head” is pointing. This makes it easier for beginners to control the drone, as left will always be left and right will always be right from the controller’s perspective.

With headless mode, you can focus on the task at hand and not worry about the drone’s orientation.

How Headless Mode Benefits Drone Pilots

Headless Mode Benefits Drone Pilots

If you’re a pilot, headless mode can be an invaluable feature that gives you more control over your drone and makes flying the drone easier, especially in complex environments. 

All directional controls are based on where you’re standing rather than where your drone is currently facing.

This feature is particularly useful for beginner pilots who are still learning how to fly their drones.

It can also be beneficial for experienced pilots who are flying in areas with a lot of interference, such as wind or obstacles.

By eliminating the need to constantly adjust the orientation of your drone, you can focus more on the flight path and the obstacles around you.

This gives you greater control and allows you to fly your drone more efficiently. Headless mode can also help you avoid accidents and collisions, so it is a valuable tool for pilots of all levels.

5 Situations When headless mode is not recommended

Situations When headless mode is not recommended

There are several situations where using headless mode is not recommended:

  1. Advanced Piloting: Once you’ve gained some experience flying drones, it’s generally better to fly without headless mode. This is because flying in the standard mode (i.e., where the drone’s movements are relative to its own orientation) gives you more precise control and allows for more complex maneuvers.
  2. Learning Bad Habits: Relying on headless mode can lead to the development of bad habits. It can become a crutch that prevents you from learning how to properly control a drone. This can be problematic if you ever want to fly a more advanced drone that doesn’t have a headless mode, or if you want to engage in more complex flight maneuvers.
  3. Orientation Skills: Using headless mode can hinder the development of important orientation skills. When flying a drone, it’s crucial to understand its orientation (i.e., which way it’s facing) at all times. This can be challenging, but it’s a vital skill that all drone pilots need to learn. Using headless can delay the development of this skill.
  4. GPS and Return-to-Home Features: Many drones come with GPS and return-to-home features. These features can automatically bring your drone back to its takeoff point if it goes out of range or if the battery is running low. However, these features may not work properly if you’re using headless mode.
  5. Photography and Videography: If you’re using your drone for photography or videography, headless mode can make it more difficult to frame your shots correctly. This is because the drone’s camera will be pointing in a different direction than the drone is moving.

How Headless Mode Works

Headless Mode Works

You’re probably wondering how this cool feature on your drone actually works. Headless mode works by using a built-in digital compass that helps the drone remember which direction it is facing during takeoff.

Once the drone has taken off and headless mode is activated, the drone’s directional controls are based on where you are standing, rather than where the drone is facing.

The digital compass helps the drone maintain a constant orientation, and the drone will respond to controls relative to your location.

 Overall, it is a great feature that makes flying your drone easier and more beginner-friendly.

FPV vs. Headless Mode

When deciding between FPV and headless flying, it’s important to consider your experience level and the type of flying you plan to do.

FPV mode is ideal for beginners, as it allows for easier orientation and judgement of the drone’s location. With FPV, you’re able to see exactly what the drone sees through a camera and monitor, giving you a first-person view of the flight path. This mode is also helpful for more complex maneuvers and flying in tight spaces, as it gives you a better sense of the drone’s surroundings.

On the other hand, headless mode is a great alternative flying mode if FPV is not available or if you’re a beginner who struggles with orientation. This mode eliminates the need to remember the drone’s orientation, making it easier to control and fly.

It’s also useful for flying in windier weather conditions, and gives you more control over the drone’s speed and space. However, it’s important to note that headless mode shouldn’t be relied on entirely and shouldn’t replace the pilot’s judgement.

The Importance of Headless Mode When Learning to Fly

Importance of Headless Mode

Learning to fly a drone can be a challenging and rewarding experience, but it requires patience and dedication to master the basic movements and orientation.

When starting out, it’s recommended to try both headless and FPV modes to see which one works best for you. Headless mode is a great feature for beginners as it eliminates the need to understand orientation and makes it easier to control the drone.

To start learning to fly a drone, it’s important to understand the basic movements of yaw, pitch, and roll. Yaw controls the direction the drone is facing, pitch controls the angle of the drone’s nose, and roll controls the tilt of the drone’s body.

It’s important to practice these movements in an open, safe area with no obstacles. As you become more comfortable with the basic movements, you can start to experiment with more advanced techniques such as flips and rolls.

Remember to always fly within the rules and regulations set by the FAA and to prioritize safety above all else.

Top Drones with Headless Mode

The DJI Mini 3 is a popular choice for beginners with its compact size and affordable price. It features a 3-axis gimbal for stable video footage, a 48MP camera for high-quality images, and up to 38 minutes of flight time. The DJI Mavic Mini also has a built-in GPS for accurate positioning. It uses a version of headless mode called Home Lock Mode, which works similarly.

Another great option is the Parrot Anafi 4K, which boasts a 4K HDR camera and up to 25 minutes of flight time. With its foldable design and lightweight build, it’s easy to transport and store. 

With the headless mode feature, you’ll be able to fly the drone without worrying about its orientation, making it an ideal choice for beginners.

FAQ about Headless Mode

FAQ Headless Mode
  1. How do I use headless mode? First, you typically need to activate it via your drone’s controller or app. The specific process may vary depending on the drone model.
  2. What does it mean when a drone is in headless mode? It means the orientation of the drone is disregarded. This means that the drone will always move in the direction you want it to go, regardless of which way the drone is facing.
  3. What is the difference between normal mode and headless mode? In normal mode, the drone’s movements are based on its own orientation. In headless mode, the drone’s movements are based on the controller’s perspective.
  4. Can all drones fly in headless mode? It’s a feature more commonly found in beginner drones or drones designed for casual use. Some advanced models, like certain DJI drones, may not have this feature.
  5. Is it easier to fly in headless mode? Yes, many users find it easier to fly in this mode, especially beginners. This mode simplifies the control scheme, making it more intuitive to navigate.
  6. When should I use headless mode? It comes in handy when you’re learning to fly drones or when you need to bring the drone back from a distance. It’s also useful when the drone’s orientation is hard to determine, such as when it’s far away.
  7. Can I trust headless mode when flying a drone from a distance? Yes, it can be particularly useful when flying a drone from a distance, as it can be hard to determine the drone’s orientation visually. However, always ensure you’re aware of your surroundings to avoid potential collisions.
  8. What happens when I turn the drone to the left or right in headless mode? Iif you turn the drone to the left or right, it will move to the left or right relative to your position, regardless of the direction the drone is facing.
  9. Can flying a drone be difficult without headless mode? That can be difficult for beginners as it requires understanding and keeping track of the drone’s orientation. However, with practice, it becomes more intuitive.


Headless mode is a technology that has made drone flying easier and more accessible to people of all skill levels. It simplifies the control of the drone, reduces the need for users to look at their drones while flying, and constantly keeps the same direction as you move your remote control around.

However, it’s important to remember that headless mode should be used as a flight assistance tool and should not entirely replace the pilot’s judgment. 

Remember to read the instruction manual before operating any advanced drones with a digital compass.

Jesse Young
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