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How Fast Can Drones Fly? (An In-Depth Guide) – Droneblog


One of the most common questions from others when flying a drone is how fast does your drone fly?

How Fast Can Drones Fly? (An In-Depth Guide)

Sometimes, it can be challenging to answer this, as there’s a slight difference between a drone’s actual speed and its known top speed.

Many consumer drones’ top speed is around 45 miles per hour, while FPV drones can reach more than 100 miles an hour. The Guinness World Record was set by XLR V3, which topped the max speed of 257 miles per hour.

In this article, I will go in-depth and share with you everything you need to know about how fast drones can fly, including a comparison between a few fast drones and what can affect their speed.

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Understanding the top speed of drones

When lifted from the ground, a drone can reach a certain cruising speed based on many characteristics and external factors.

This speed may be different for each drone, but the cruise speed (the average speed you fly your drone) is by far not the maximum speed a drone can fly.

The drone motors spin at an extreme rate. The average drone motor can spin up to 10,000 RPM, and some FPV drone motors can spin more than 50,000 times per minute.

This directly contributes to the thrust of the drone and the ability to reach max speed.

That is why some drones have a max flying speed of 40 miles per hour, while others can exceed 100mph. 

But each drone has its own autonomy and top speed, and no two drones are the same.

If you have a consumer drone (such as a DJI drone), you’ll have to look at the drone specs on the DJI website to find its max speed.

You won’t learn the top speed of a custom FPV drone the same way. The best way to find it is to display the drone’s actual speed on OSD while throttling to the maximum.

A drone can fly many times faster than the fastest man in the world. 

At the same time, a drone will fly faster than most birds in the air but slower than manned aerial vehicles.

» MORE: What is the Fastest DJI Drone?

What modes should you fly your drone to reach top speed?

Most consumer drones (standard GPS drones) have flying modes such as normal, sport, cine mode, or any similar derivatives.

Under most circumstances, sport mode is where you can reach the highest speeds.

Use acro mode (or Manual Mode for DJI FPV and Avata) for FPV drones. This won’t restrict you from reaching extreme speeds with your FPV drone.

When you want to fly a drone in normal mode, the top speed is restricted to offer a smooth flight and enable anti-collision sensors.

Each standard GPS drone is restricted to fly even at a lower speed in cine mode.

With FPV drones, the only restriction you can add that may decrease the top speed of your drone is to place a throttle limit in Betaflight or similar setup programs.

What flies faster: FPV drones or standard GPS drones?

Standard GPS drones are limited in many ways due to the number of sensors and internal parts that make the drone fly stably, hover, and use different functions.

Moreover, the motors and internal parts of standard drones are built to use the drone only for specific filming and photography functions which don’t require much speed.

But a custom FPV drone doesn’t have any restrictions. When you throttle up, FPV drones can reach massive speeds in less than a second.

For instance, the DJI FPV drone can reach 60 mph in two seconds. Some custom FPV drones can top 100 mph in a single second.

No standard GPS drone can reach those speeds or accelerate at this rate.

That’s why, an FPV drone is way faster than a standard GPS drone in about all instances, unless we’re talking about FPV micro drones.

FPV micro drones are too small to reach high speeds or fly far, for that matter.

These micro drones use 1s or 2s Lipo batteries; the voltage is very low, and the motors are too small to offer a high-speed capability.

A microdrone’s top speed is generally under 30 mph at max throttle.

What factors contribute to a drone’s top speed?

So many characteristics can contribute to a drone’s top speed, from the drone parts to external factors. Let’s take a closer look.

Motor power

This is by far one of the most crucial components of a drone that contributes to its maximum speed, acceleration, and how much weight the drone can carry.

Most standard GPS drones have limited motor power for two main reasons: 

  • To keep the drone under control and ensure smooth and accurate flights.
  • To save battery. Drone motors consume the most power, and the stronger they are, the more batteries they drain. That’s why FPV drones can only fly for a few minutes, whereas standard drones can fly for 45+ minutes.

Drone operating voltage

The motors and other components can operate at different voltages, depending on how they are manufactured.

This can be between 3.7 volts (1s batteries) to 22.2 volts (6s batteries), but depending on the drone type, it can be more.

Drones benefiting from higher voltage and amperage will have more robust motors and parts to give them power.

That’s why drones functioning on 6s Lipo batteries will almost always have more substantial power and reach higher speeds than 4s or 2s, for instance.

A drone’s weight

You may think lightweight drones should fly faster, but that’s incorrect due to the drone’s size, aerodynamics, and air friction impact. 

In general, lightweight drones fly slower, but heavy drones may also fly slower. 

Depending on the motor power and components, a drone should have a sweet spot where it can fly the best, not being heavier or too lightweight.

A drone’s aerodynamics

When a drone flies, it produces air friction. The wind resistance of a drone is also impacted by a drone’s aerodynamics.

A drone with good aerodynamics, such as the DJI FPV, can reach much higher speeds stably than drones that lack it.

Drone type

An FPV drone will only have a speed limit based on motor power and not firmware limitations, while standard consumer drones are built differently.

FPV drones are the answer if you’re looking for a high-speed drone.

In the world of standard GPS drones, some are faster than others, and generally, more expensive drones tend to have better performance. 

Internal parts

The internal components, such as ESC or a flight controller, play important roles when we directly relate to how much power a drone can have and, ultimately, what speed it can reach.

For instance, in FPV drones, a 45A ESC will allow a maximum current flow of 45 amps to be distributed equally toward motors for extra power and speed.

Although motors can endure and are able to reach incredible RPMs and, ultimately, these drones achieve great speeds, these internal parts could be the reason for limiting power.

This is a common problem with FPV drones when the ESC burns out while you throttle at maximum, which means the core limitation is the internal parts. 

Weather conditions

As an external factor, the weather contributes to the speed of a flying drone.

Although many drones can fly well through extreme weather conditions, their performance is reduced.

Altitude

The atmospheric pressure is decreased if you’re flying at higher altitudes, which impacts a drone’s performance.

In aviation, this is called a service ceiling, and the max service ceiling of a drone is the maximum recommended altitude the drone can fly without noticeably reduced performance.

For instance, the DJI Mini 3 Pro with the Intelligent Battery Plus has a maximum service ceiling of 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) above sea level because of the extra battery weight, whereas its standard battery is 4,000 meters (13,100 feet).

Consider this factor if you’re an adventurer living or traveling at high altitudes in the mountains looking for a high-speed drone.

How fast can a consumer drone fly?

Standard consumer drones such as the DJI Mini 3 Pro will have limited flight speed, much lower than FPV drones.

But on average, a consumer drone can reach a maximum of 45 mph in sport mode. However, many consumer drones cannot achieve this speed.

Some drones are able to reach higher speeds, while others are slower.

The top standard consumer drones can reach higher speeds, even above 70 mph. 

A few years ago, many drones could not reach these speeds due to limited drone technology.

Today, drone motors are improving.

You should expect that standard drones may never have the fastest available motors.

Imagine a beginner with a powerhouse drone capable of reaching 100 mph or beyond. This would not only be unpractical but unsafe.

Moreover, many drone technologies, such as anti-collision sensors and intelligent functions, cannot be used when flying a drone at higher speeds.

The faster a drone is, the more difficult to control it, not to mention that standard drone joysticks are tiny compared to faster FPV drone remote controllers.

You will always need to make micro-adjustments when you fly a drone at a higher speed, and the faster the drone is, the more challenging it is to adjust it.

What is the speed of different consumer drones? 

Drone Weight Max Speed in MPH
DJI Mini 3 / Mini 3 Pro Under 250 grams 35.7
DJI Air 2S 595 grams 42.5
DJI Mavic 3, Classic, & Pro Approx. 950 grams 47
DJI Phantom 4 1,380 grams 44.7
Autel EVO Lite 835 grams 40
DJI Inspire 3 4kg 58.4
Parrot ANAFI 320 grams 34.1

You may think that flying a drone at 45 mph is relatively slow if we compare these speeds with FPV drones. 

But it is nothing like that. In fact, a drone that flies at 45 mph is way above the car’s speed limit in a city. 

Standard consumer drones that are able to fly with higher speed also benefit from better wind resistance when flying in high winds.

How fast can an FPV drone fly?

Flying an FPV drone is another story.

Many FPV drone pilots, when they build their own drones or buy custom, fail to calculate how fast their drones will be.

An FPV drone can quickly surpass 100 mph. In fact, world records have been set by FPV drones.

Currently, the fastest drone that has beaten the World Record is the XLR V3, which reached speeds of 224 mph on average and topped the max speed of 257 mph.

That’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Some custom electric fixed-wing drones could reach and pass 300 mph speeds. 

However, many speeds are not reported and registered in the Guinness Book because of the current regulations that flying drones past a specific speed is prohibited in most countries and territories.

Remember that all these drones that have broken the 100-mph barrier and even beaten the world record are electric drones with Lipo batteries.

What is the speed of different FPV drones?

FPV Drone Weight Max Speed in MPH
DJI FPV 795 grams 87.2
DJI Avata 410 grams 60.3
Nazgul Evoque F5 V2 6S Approx 610 grams 118
DRL Racer X 800 grams 179.6
iFlight Protek 35 305 grams without battery 74.5

» MORE: How Fast Can DJI Avata Fly?

An FPV drone is challenging to fly and control, especially if we’re about to reach even close to any of these speeds.

If you manage to learn and control it well, you will witness how fast these drones can be.

You can reach the destination (e.g., the top of a mountain) faster when flying long-range and perform cinematic flights.

But the best part, in my opinion, is that FPV drones can fly at any wind speed. 

Standard drones have to auto-level and combat wind speeds, so they’re not as resistant as FPV drones.

An FPV drone can fly in high winds by exceeding the max wind gust speed.

Many FPV drone pilots build their own drones from scratch. 

It’s complex and requires experience, but one of the most significant advantages of doing it yourself is that you don’t have any limit on what parts to add.

Pilots often put powerful motors on their drones.

Custom-built drones with solid motors can accelerate very quickly, take incredibly sharp turns, and reach speeds of over 100 mph.

Are there any laws limiting a drone’s max speed?

Most countries and territories have speed limit restrictions for drones.

  • In the US, the max speed you can fly your drone is 100 mph, according to FAA.
  • According to EU Regulations, the top speed you can fly a drone in Europe in the A1 category is 42 mph (19 m/s).
  • Some European countries may adapt their own internal drone laws and regulations, including the max speed of a drone.
  • The max speed you can fly a drone in China is 62 mph.

Many other states and countries worldwide have their own limits on how fast you can fly your drone. 

Just because your drone may reach incredible speeds, it doesn’t mean you’re allowed to fly that fast. 

What flies faster: drones or fixed wings?

Generally, FPV drones accelerate and reach their max speed much faster than fixed wings.

However, fixed wings reach slightly higher speeds.

Combustion fixed wings can reach very high speeds, much more than any electric UAV.

A fixed-wing will almost always fly faster than standard GPS drones and may fly faster than FPV drones.

Most FPV drones can reach higher speeds, but top fixed wings are the ones to beat the record.

Can you make a drone go faster?

There’s a simple approach in FPV drones: change motors and internal parts with something more potent to reach higher speeds.

However, with standard GPS drones, that’s another story.

There are a few approaches to make such a drone go faster.

  • Change propellers: The stock propellers are meant for a stable, smooth flight. You can change your drone propellers to offer higher thrust. If you can switch to larger propellers without them touching your drone frame, this should boost the drone’s max speed.
  • Remove excessive weight: Remove any drone parts and reduce weight without affecting the drone’s functionality. Your drone should accelerate faster and reach higher speeds.
  • Don’t add accessories: This is a rookie mistake where adding landing gear, GoPro, or other accessories. The drone will always decrease its top speed and accelerate slower. 
  • Fly with a tailwind: When flying against the wind, your drone will fly slower, but with a tailwind, you should reach incredible speeds. Just be aware of your battery life and how far you fly because you need extra juice to return your drone.
  • Use the proper flight mode for your drone: As we already mentioned, each drone should have a mode for stable flights (e.g., normal mode), maybe a cinematic mode, and the one to reach the highest speeds. Use the proper flight mode for your drone.
  • Swap drone motors: If you’re a crafter with knowledge of electronics and the possibility to swap the motors of a standard GPS drone with more powerful ones, you can easily add more than a few mph to the top speed of your drone.

» MORE: Make Your Drone Faster with These Top Tips

Flying a drone fast will decrease battery life

When you fly a drone at a higher speed and intend to reach top speed, the drone will pull a few times the amount of energy required to hover.

This will drastically decrease the flight time of your drone.

For instance, a DJI Mini 3 Pro with a standard battery is advertised to fly for a maximum of 34 minutes. In reality, you can fly for about 25 minutes before landing.

If you keep accelerating and reach the drone’s max speed, your 25-minute flight time will turn into 10-15 minutes or maybe even less.

Pulling more current from the battery to reach these speeds will deplete it at a faster rate. Moreover, it will also warm up the battery and damage it in time.

Therefore, if you fly your drone fast and accelerate aggressively, your battery won’t last as long as when you’re flying at a moderate speed.

What are the risks when flying a drone very fast?

Wherever we’re talking about the legal side of flying a drone or internal components, flying a drone fast may have more downsides than advantages.

  • Possibly breaking drone laws and regulations: If you take your drone past the max speed your country allows, you will definitely be in breach of drone laws. There could be consequences.
  • Overforcing drone motors: Although drone motors are powerful, they are not meant to work at a maximum capacity for more than a few seconds. Forcing them may quickly result in burning out the motors.
  • Damaging internal parts: Wherever we’re talking about a flight controller or electronic speed controller, putting too much current through for a long time (throttling to maximum) will likely burn them out, even if they’re designed to withstand these currents and amps.
  • Damaging the battery: Your drone battery will likely be the next one to go. The batteries support pulling high amps from them, but their lifespan will be decreased. Moreover, FPV drones have Lipo batteries with a maximum C-Rate. Never cross the C-Rate threshold when throttling up your FPV drone, or the battery can be damaged.
  • You may crash your drone, damage property, or hurt someone: It’s challenging to control a speedy drone, and you can quickly lose control, which can result in disaster.

What are the advantages of flying a drone very fast?

Despite the downsides discussed above, there are some advantages to consider if you want to fly your drone fast. 

  • Adrenaline boost: Wherever it’s an FPV or standard drone, when you fly very fast, you take risks and boost your adrenaline.
  • Reach the destination quicker: If you plan to fly your long-range drone and capture stunning videos of the mountains or landscapes, getting there faster may be beneficial.
  • Create fantastic cinematic videos: We need speed with many long-range FPV drones if we want to fly near ridges and capture unique cinematic videos. In these scenarios, the drone should be high-speed to capture the unimaginable.
  • Join drone racing competitions: Although racing with an FPV drone does not require the drone to be as fast as possible, this is yet a factor to consider if you want to get into racing.

What to do when flying a drone very fast

Take into consideration a few approaches if you’re planning to reach a drone’s top speed.

  • Have a sharp reaction time: We must be in control of the drone, and for that, we must have good attention to detail and a sharp response time to avoid crashing the drone when flying at high speed.
  • Constantly monitor the OSD: The on-screen display will show us all the statistics we need. We must continuously monitor the signal, battery level, current speed, and remaining flight time when flying a drone very fast. High-speed drones can quickly get out of range.
  • Have a spotter: You will be entirely focused on the RC screen when flying a drone at high speed. Although not required by law everywhere when flying GPS drones, we should have someone with us to keep an eye on the drone.
  • Don’t fly a drone high-speed in busy areas: If you want to fly your drone fast and reach maximum speed, you should do it in an open field, mountains, valleys, and places without people or structures. Never fly a drone very fast inside a city.
  • Always be aware of the surrounding airspace: Although this is a general guideline and regulation when flying a drone at any speed, we should ensure we have a keen eye on the surrounding airspace for possible incoming aircraft when flying fast.