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Best High Altitude Drones compared in 2024

And how high can they fly

Finding the right drone for high altitudes can be tricky. Up there, thin air and cold temperatures can often be too much to handle for a standard model.

I've spent a lot of time flying and checking out different drones to see which ones do best up high. This article is packed with my findings. I'll show you which drones can handle high altitudes without problems like losing power.

Whether you're looking to fly higher for fun or for work, this guide will help you pick the best drone for your needs.

Difference between range and height limit

If a drone can fly for let’s say 10 km in range, it doesn’t mean it can fly for 10 km high, but if a drone has a range of 1km, it won’t be able to go beyond 1km in height.

So, distance is limited only by signal strength, while height is limited by 2 factors: signal strength and air pressure (or air density)... and of course regulation.

While, as I show in this article, you can increase any drone's range pretty easily, it's way harder to do the same for altitude limitations, as because air gets thinner there are mechanical limitations after a point.

What is the highest altitude a drone can fly?

You may find varying answers to this, but here’s what my expertise tells me.

The highest altitude a drone can fly is 10 km (33,000 ft), as has been registered with both military drones that can reach these heights as well as youtube videos with daredevils flying close to that height of a couple of KM.

How high can a drone fly Physically?

This question is less about regulations and more about what the conditions of high altitudes make possible. Take a look.

Drones that work with spinning propellers have a physical height limit of around 10 km (33.000ft). That is mainly because air is increasingly thinner the higher you go, and there’s less and less force that can maintain its weight in the air (pushing against the propeller blades).

You can see the video below where a drone can actually fly to that altitude of 33.000ft:

Keep in mind that this is very dangerous behaviour and you should fly within your local legal height limits.

So, when looking for how high a drone can actually fly (without any software limitations), you need to consider three things:

  1. Absolute Ceiling
    1. Absolute Ceiling is the highest altitude at which an aircraft can sustain level flight.At this altitude , the thrust of the engines is equal to to the total drag so the drone stops climbing
    2. The absolute ceiling isn’t specified by any manufacturer because it usually is too dangerous to test
  2. Max Service Ceiling Above Sea Level
    1. Also recommended as a maximum takeoff altitude
    2. This is the maximum altitude where the drone can still climb with a maximum of 100 ft per minute.
    3. You can still climb after this height, but the ascent speed is quite limited
    4. It is used by manufacturers like DJI to establish the max height a drone is recommended to be launched from
  3. Maximum Range
    1. If the maximum range of the drone (signal wise) is more limited than its ability to fly higher, then the drone will have the same height as width range.

How high can a drone fly legally?

Consumer drones are allowed to fly up to 120m (400ft) in both the US and Europe for the safety of incoming planes or helicopters.

However, there is also a software limitation found in most drones ( especially DJI ones) that limits your flight at a certain height for safety reasons.

How high can DJI drones fly?

Here’s what the limit looks like for one company’s drones in particular — DJI.

Most DJI drones these days have a maximum flight limiter in the software of 500m(1600ft) from the takeoff point, which is well over the line of sight and 120m (400ft) limitation of the current regulation.

By default DJI drones come with a basic limitation for 120m, but it can be changed from the app to 500m.

What is the maximum takeoff Altitude (flying from Everest)

If you are to launch the drone from an already high altitude, like Mount Everest, what would the maximum altitude be then?

Most Drone Manufacturers specify a maximum takeoff Altitude, for example, DJI has a maximum takeoff altitude for their drones somewhere between 4-6km (20.000 feet).

Considering Mount Everest is 8.9km in height from sea level, then you would be able to launch the drone from the 6 km point on Mount Everest (considering the weather would allow it) and fly for the legal limit of 120m (or 500m if you max the DJI flight height).

Here are the Maximum takeoff altitudes for DJI Drones:

  • DJI Mini 2 Maximum Altitude is 4 km
  • DJI Spark Maximum Altitude is 4 km
  • Mavic Pro Maximum Altitude is 5 km
  • DJI Air 2 and Air 2s Maximum Altitude is 5 km
  • Phantom 4 series Maximum Altitude is 6km
  • Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom Maximum altitude is 6 km


Best high altitude drones in 2024


In this section we'll go through the main popular consumer and commercial drones to see how high they can fly normally with software limitation as well as their absolute limit. And of course see what else they can do.

1. Autel Evo 2 Pro - Highest Flying Consumer Drone

40 min
9 km range
7 km ceiling
800m software height
  • 6K video and 20MP Raw imaging with a 1-inch sensor camera.
  • Multiple color profiles, including Log and 10-bit HDR.
  • Large battery for extended flight times.
  • Obstacle sensors and automated flight paths.
  • Default video profile tends to be oversharpened.
  • Many functions still require a smartphone app.
  • 10-bit Log video not available at 6K resolution.

The highest flying Drone on this list is the Autel Evo 2 Pro, with a maximum service ceiling height of 7km, it’s 1 km more than what DJI has to offer.
It's a drone with a powerful 1-inch sensor, enabling it to shoot high-quality 6K videos and take 20MP photos. This makes it great for capturing detailed images and videos. It can fly for up to 40 minutes on a single charge, which is quite long for a drone, and it can stay connected to the controller up to 9 kilometers away.

This drone is also equipped with a system that helps it avoid obstacles, making it safer to fly. The camera’s aperture can be adjusted between f/2.8 and f/11, which is useful for shooting in different lighting conditions.

The Autel EVO 2 Pro V3 is designed for both professionals who need high-quality images and hobbyists looking for a reliable, long-range drone. Its combination of high-resolution camera, long flight time, and safety features like the effective RTH system makes it a noteworthy option in the drone market.

Features & Specs

Built-in Display on Controller: The EVO II Pro's controller includes a color display, allowing pilots to fly the drone, frame photos, and record video without connecting a smartphone.

Size and Visibility: The drone is relatively large for its category, measuring 4.5 x 4.3 x 9.0 inches and weighing 2.6 pounds. Its bright orange finish enhances visibility.

Obstacle Avoidance and Flight Time: Equipped with all-around obstacle sensors, the EVO II Pro offers safe flight, allowing pilots to focus on camera work. The flight battery supports up to 40 minutes of flight time, with real-world usage closer to 32 minutes.

Camera Quality: The EVO II Pro features a 1-inch sensor camera capable of capturing 6K video and 20MP Raw images. It offers multiple color profiles, including Log, and supports 10-bit HDR at up to 4K quality.

Storage and Connectivity: The drone includes 8GB of internal storage and a micro USB port for file offloading. A microSD card is necessary for extended storage, especially for 6K footage.

2.Parrot Anafi - Unlimited software height

25 min
4 km range
4.5 km ceiling
Unlimited height
  • Really Quiet
  • 4k camera
  • can film 90 degrees up
  • lossless zoom
  • 21mp photos
  • a lot of flight modes
  • Card slot must be handled carefully

The Parrot Anafi was limited to a mear 150m until like one year ago, yet with a recent update they removed the software limitation entirely.

What you need to do is go under the safety menu, select Geofence to NO and you’re pretty much able to fly as high as you can.

There was a workaround until now, because while using the flight plan you had no altitude limit.

Keep in mind that the drone is still limited to a 4.5 km ceiling, so you can’t really fly it that high off the ground from sea level, if you’re on a mountain for example.

Regarding other aspects, the Anafi is one of the best consumer drones produced in the US, Parrot being a very reliable company and the specs and build quality are quite top-notch.

One differentiating factor is the fact that the camera can turn up too, as the gimbal is specially made.

Features & Specs

Travel-Friendly Design: The Anafi stands out as one of the smallest drones equipped with a 4K camera and gimbal stabilization. Its lightweight build and compact size, coupled with a protective carrying case, make it a top choice for travelers.

Advanced Camera Features: The 4K HDR video capability of the Anafi is a game-changer. The camera's unique ability to tilt upward opens up new angles for aerial photography. The Hyperlapse feature adds a creative edge to time-lapse videos.

Reliable Flight Time: In my tests, the Anafi consistently delivered close to its advertised 25 minutes of flight time, a notable achievement for a drone of its size.

Simplified Flying Experience: While it lacks an obstacle detection system, the Anafi's basic safety features, like GPS and automatic return-to-home, work flawlessly. Piloting it requires a bit of caution but is generally straightforward and enjoyable.

Efficient Charging and Control: The USB-C charging is a practical feature for on-the-go charging. The Skycontroller 3 remote is ergonomically designed, offering a comfortable grip and intuitive controls, along with seamless smartphone integration.

Storage and Image Quality: Equipped with a 16GB microSD card, the Anafi captures 21MP stills in both JPG and Raw formats. The image quality is on par with high-end smartphones, making it suitable for various photography needs.

Versatile Shooting Modes: The digital zoom function, while more effective in 1080p, adds flexibility to shooting. HDR mode for both videos and stills enhances the quality of footage under varying lighting conditions.

3.Xiaomi Fimi x8 - 500m height limitation

35 min
8 km range
4.5 km ceiling
500 m software height
  • Cheap for what you get
  • Great 8 km range
  • 35 min battery life
  • Solid camera
  • 3 axis gimbal
  • GPS
  • Foldable design
  • No sensors

The Fimi x8 is one of the most popular consumer camera drones so I had to include it on this list, especially considering it has a similar altitude limitation as DJI drones.

It can fly up to 500m, limited from the software, and has a maximum ceiling of around 4.5 km, which makes it on par with some of DJIs drones.

The Fimi is a pretty solid competitor for DJI,  being able to fly for quite a long time and I have personally tested it, although an older version and it comes with a very high quality overall build, as expected from Xiaomi.

Features & Specs

Impressive Flight Range and Time: The Fimi X8 boasts an 8 km range, which is quite remarkable. Its battery life is equally impressive, offering up to 35 minutes of flight time. 

Camera and Stabilization: The drone is equipped with a solid camera, supported by a 3-axis gimbal. This setup ensures stable and clear footage, which is crucial for capturing high-quality images and videos.

Build and Design: Xiaomi's reputation for quality is evident in the Fimi X8's build. The drone is foldable, making it convenient for travel and outdoor adventures. 

Flight Ceiling and Safety Features: With a software-imposed height limitation of 500 meters, the Fimi X8 ensures safety while still allowing considerable vertical exploration. It's important to note that while the drone can technically reach a maximum ceiling of around 4.5 km.

4.Skydio 2+ - Lowest flying professional drone

27 min
6km range
4.5 km ceiling
130 m software height
Skydio 2+
  • Advanced subject tracking and autonomous flight capabilities.
  • Super-accurate panorama positioning.
  • Auto-record feature for capturing key moments.
  • Durable and high-quality build.
  • Non-folding design.
  • Main camera quality could be improved.

The Skydio 2+ is the best follow me drone you can buy for sports, but it’s definitely not a high altitude flyer, because it’s limited from the software to barely 130m (430 ft), yet the 4.5km max altitude ceiling is on par with the others.
Its advanced tracking technology, similar to that used in self-driving vehicles, enables it to detect and avoid obstacles from all angles. 

This drone is particularly appealing to those who want aerial shots without mastering complex piloting skills. It features a 12.3MP camera, capable of 4K/60p HDR video, but disappointing in image quality, lacking 10-bit color or Log profile. 

The drone offers a 27-minute flight time, can track subjects from various directions, and has a range of up to 3.7 miles with its controller. However, its camera quality doesn't match the sophistication of its tracking and obstacle-avoidance capabilities, making it less suitable for high-end photography or videography. 

The Skydio 2+ is ideal for casual users or adventurers who prioritize tracking and autonomous flight over top-tier image quality.

Features & Specs

Autonomous Flight and Subject Tracking: The Skydio 2+ excels in autonomous flight, using AI to follow subjects and navigate environments with impressive accuracy.

Build and Design: The drone has a solid airframe made from lightweight metal and hard plastic. It doesn't fold, but its design is thoughtful and consumer-friendly.

Battery and Range: The battery life is average, offering about 27 minutes of flight time. The range varies depending on the control method, with the Beacon extending the range to 1.5km.

Camera and Video Quality: The 4K camera captures smooth footage at 60fps. However, the video quality, particularly in low light, doesn't match up to drones with larger sensors.

Control Options: The Skydio 2+ can be controlled using a smartphone, the Beacon (a GPS wand for extended range and control), or a traditional drone controller.

5. DJI FPV drone - 6km above sea and 500m software

20 min
10 km range
6 km ceiling
500m software height
  • 150km/h max speed
  • Stable GPS
  • Great Image stabilization
  • Return to Home
  • Prone to crashing (like all FPV drones)

You can indeed create your own FPV drone with no limits to how high you can fly it, but it’s way safer to fly an FPV drone with GPS and automatic return to home at such high heights compared to an analog one.

The 20 min battery life also makes it one of the longest flying FPV drones in the hobby and that means you can reach higher heights more safely and be able to turn back.

The FPV feed is also quite amazing, at a max of 10 km and crystal clear Digital FPV.

The drone can reach 100 km/h in just 2 seconds and fly up to 140 km/h so it’s a different beast altogether compared to a typical camera drone.

Features & Specs

Solid Build and Unique Design: The DJI FPV stands out with its sleek, non-foldable frame. It feels robust at around 28 oz and sports a futuristic look, different from other drones.

Exhilarating Flight Modes: Flying this drone is thrilling. It offers three modes: Normal, Sport, and Manual. In Normal mode, it reaches 33mph with GPS assistance, great for beginners. Sport mode increases speed and maneuverability. Manual mode is the real thrill, allowing the drone to hit speeds up to 87 mph and perform impressive aerobatics.

Impressive Camera Performance: The drone comes with a 12MP 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor, shooting 4K at 60fps and 1080p at 120fps. The video quality is impressive for an FPV drone, although the camera does capture the front propellers in the footage. Its photography capabilities are decent but limited to Auto and Manual modes, without raw photo support.

Ergonomic Controllers: Both the main controller and the handheld Motion Controller offer great ergonomics. The Motion Controller, in particular, provides an intuitive flying experience, making it more accessible, especially for beginners.

Obstacle Avoidance and Safety Features: The drone's obstacle avoidance system slows it down when detecting obstacles, requiring active piloting even in Normal mode.

Immersive FPV Goggles: The goggles provide a sharp, immersive first-person view, though adjusting them for individual eyesight can be challenging. Some flight information is at the edge of your peripheral vision due to the large screen size.

Battery Life and Flight Time: The battery life is solid, supporting the drone's high-speed capabilities with a substantial flight time. The battery's size does add to the drone's overall weight.

6.DJI Mini 4 Pro - Highest flying drone under 250 grams

34 min
18 km range
4 km ceiling height
500m software height
  • Lightweight and portable.
  • 4K60 video in various formats.
  • Advanced obstacle avoidance.
  • Multiple control options.
  • No AirSense transponder.
  • Extended battery increases weight.

The DJI Mini 4 Pro, a compact and lightweight quadcopter weighing under 250 grams, is known for its ability to capture 4K stabilized footage, rivaling the quality of more expensive professional drones. 

But when it comes to altitude capabilities, the DJI Mini 4 Pro impresses with a software-limited maximum flight height of 500 meters. This elevation easily surpasses the height of most urban structures, offering expansive aerial perspectives.

Its standout feature is the Quad Bayer camera, capable of switching between wide-screen and vertical video recording, perfect for content creators on platforms like YouTube and TikTok. The drone's 360-degree obstacle avoidance sensors mark a significant improvement over its predecessor, the Mini 3 Pro.

In terms of performance, the Mini 4 Pro offers different flying modes, including a Sport mode that reaches speeds of 36mph. Its safety features include a built-in GPS and a geofence system to prevent flying in restricted zones. The obstacle detection system is advanced, with various modes to avoid collisions.

Features & Specs

Weight and Portability: Weighing just 249 grams, the Mini 4 Pro is light enough to bypass drone registration requirements in many countries, including the US. Its compact size (2.4 x 3.5 x 5.7 inches when folded) makes it incredibly portable.

Camera and Video Capabilities: The drone's camera, equipped with 24mm F1.7 optics, delivers clear and colorful video in various lighting conditions. It supports both wide-screen (16:9) and vertical (9:16) video formats, catering to platforms like YouTube and TikTok. The three-axis gimbal ensures smooth footage, akin to Steadicam quality.

Obstacle Avoidance and Flight Modes: The Mini 4 Pro features all-around obstacle sensors, providing 360-degree coverage. This is an upgrade from the Mini 3 Pro's three-way system. The drone also includes an autopilot assist system for safer tracking of subjects.

Memory and Battery Options: It comes with 2GB of internal memory, which is relatively limited, and supports microSD cards for extended storage. The drone offers various battery options, including a standard flight battery and a Plus battery for extended flight times (up to 45 minutes).Safety Features: The Mini 4 Pro includes built-in GPS for stable hovering and a Return to Home function. It also features the DJI FlySafe geofence system, which helps in adhering to flying regulations.

7.WingtraOne - High altitude fixed wing drone

59 min
10 km range
5km ceiling
2.5 km software limitation
  • Modular camera
  • Long range
  • Long battery life
  • Covers long distances fast
  • Professional ground station
  • An expensive option for pros

The WingtraOne is a VTOL(vertical takeoff drone) with fixed wings that is made for long range industrial flight, as well as high altitude flight.

The WingtraOne has special High-Altitude propellers and a 2.5km software limitation for safety. This means it can fly at some of the highest altitudes right out of the box. Considering this is a fixed wing, it also means it’s not so influenced by thinner air at higher altitudes.

Features & Specs

Exceptional Data Collection Speed: The WingtraOne stands out for its efficiency in surveying large areas. It can cover a massive 246-acre area in a single flight at a 0.5 in/px GSD. This capability significantly reduces the time and cost of surveying, making it an ideal choice for large-scale projects.

VTOL Capabilities: As a fixed-wing aircraft with VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) capabilities, the WingtraOne offers the best of both worlds. It requires less space for take-off and landing, allowing operation in various environments. Additionally, the VTOL design reduces the risk of payload damage during landing, a common issue with traditional fixed-wing drones.

High-Quality Imaging System: It uses top-notch imaging systems like the Sony RX1R II, a 42mp camera. This high-resolution camera enables the drone to fly at higher altitudes while capturing detailed images, essential for accurate mapping and surveying.

Modular Payload Options: The versatility of this drone is further enhanced by its modular payload system. It can be equipped with different cameras, including the MicaSense RedEdge-P for agricultural surveys, providing flexibility for various mission requirements.

Specialized but Limited Use: While it excels in mapping and surveying, it's important to note that it's a highly specialized aircraft. Its primary function is mapping, meaning it may not be the best choice if you need a versatile drone for multiple applications.

Why Choose High Altitude Drones?

High altitude drones offer significant advantages, especially in aerial photography and remote sensing applications. Here's why they stand out:

Enhanced Aerial Photography: These drones can reach higher altitudes, providing a broader and more comprehensive view. This capability is crucial for capturing large-scale landscapes or conducting extensive aerial surveys. The higher perspective offers clearer, more detailed images, making them ideal for mapping, wildlife monitoring, and even artistic photography.

Improved Remote Sensing: High altitude drones excel in remote sensing tasks. They can easily access and monitor hard-to-reach areas, like mountainous regions or dense forests. This ability is vital for environmental monitoring, disaster management, and agricultural assessments. They gather essential data from above, helping in planning and decision-making processes.

Longer Flight Times: These drones are often designed to be more efficient in their energy use. This efficiency translates to longer flight times, allowing for extended operations without the need for frequent landings. It's particularly beneficial for continuous monitoring or when covering large areas.

Lighter Weight: High altitude drones are typically lighter. This reduced weight contributes to their efficiency and agility, making them easier to maneuver and less costly to operate. It also means they can be deployed quickly, which is crucial in time-sensitive situations.

In summary, high altitude drones are a superior choice for aerial photography and remote sensing due to their extended range, efficiency, and versatility.

Buyer's Guide to High Altitude Drones

Convinced about getting one of the high altitude drones from the list above? Great! But before you make the purchase, there are a few important things to think about:

Range and Altitude: Check how high and far the drone can fly. High altitude drones should be able to reach significant heights without losing connection or control.

Battery Life: Look for drones with long battery life. Since these drones fly higher, you need enough power for them to go up, complete their task, and return safely.

Camera Quality: If you're into aerial photography or need detailed images from high up, ensure the drone has a high-quality camera. Good resolution and stability are crucial for clear photos and videos.

Ease of Use: Choose a drone that's easy to control, especially if you're a beginner. User-friendly controls and an intuitive interface make a big difference.

Visual Line-of-Sight: It's important to maintain a visual line-of-sight with your drone. This means you should always be able to see your drone with your own eyes, not just through the camera or a monitor. This is not just for safety but often a legal requirement.

Durability and Weather Resistance: High altitude drones face different weather conditions. Make sure your drone can withstand various environmental factors like wind and cold temperatures.

Remember, the right high altitude drone should match your specific needs, whether it's for photography, research, or just for fun. Choose wisely and fly safely!

Tips for Flying at High Altitude

Flying a drone at high altitudes can be thrilling, but it also requires extra care. Here are some simple tips to help you fly safely and effectively:

Check the Weather: Before flying, always check the weather. High winds and cold temperatures at higher altitudes can affect your drone's performance.

Know Your Drone's Limits: Understand how high your drone can fly and stay within its limits. Pushing it too far can lead to loss of control or signal.

Keep It in Sight: Always keep your drone in your line of sight. This helps you control it better and avoid accidents.

Start with a Full Battery: High altitude flying uses more battery. Start with a full charge to ensure your drone has enough power for the whole flight.

Be Aware of Airspace Restrictions: Some areas have altitude limits or are no-fly zones. Make sure you know the rules of the area where you're flying.

Practice at Lower Altitudes First: If you're new to high altitude flying, practice at lower heights first. Get comfortable with your drone's controls and responses.

Use GPS Wisely: High altitude can affect GPS signals. Make sure your drone has a strong GPS connection for better stability and control.

Remember, safety comes first. Enjoy your high-altitude adventures, but always fly responsibly!


To wrap it up, this list of high altitude drones for 2024 showcases models that are truly worth your investment. 

Each drone, with its unique capabilities and advanced features, stands out in its own right. Whether you're capturing breathtaking aerial shots or embarking on complex remote sensing tasks, these drones offer reliability, performance, and value for your money. 

Remember, while they can reach impressive heights, always prioritize safety and adhere to legal guidelines. Happy flying!

Frequently asked questions

Let's see some more details you should know about high flying drones and their limitations.

Can a drone fly at 3000 feet?

Yes, some drones can fly at 3000 feet, but it's usually beyond legal height limits for consumer drones and can be risky.

Can you hear a drone at 400 feet?

No, it's unlikely to hear a drone at 400 feet. They're usually too high to be heard from the ground.

How high can military drones fly?

Military drones can fly very high, often above 10,000 feet, depending on their design and purpose.

How Does Air Pressure Affect Drone Performance at High Altitudes?

At high altitudes, air pressure is lower, making the air thinner. This can reduce the drone's lift and engine efficiency, impacting its performance.

What Safety Precautions Should Be Taken When Flying Drones at High Altitudes?

Always keep the drone in sight, check weather conditions, understand your drone's limits, and follow local regulations to ensure safety at high altitudes.

How Do High Altitudes Impact Drone Battery Life and Efficiency?

High altitudes can strain the drone's battery more, as it works harder in thinner air. This can reduce battery life and efficiency.

What Are the Legal Restrictions on Flying Drones in Controlled Airspace?

In controlled airspace, you often need permission or a license to fly a drone. There are height restrictions and no-fly zones to consider as well.

How Accurate is GPS Tracking in High Altitude Drone Flights?

GPS tracking can be less reliable at high altitudes due to signal interference and the distance from signal sources, but it's generally still accurate.

Hi, I'm Paul.
A big drone enthusiast, reviewing, comparing and writing about drones since 2015. I'm all about helping people enjoy and even monetize their hobby.
Waterproof High Altitude Drone
Swellpro Spry+
  • Waterproof
  • Electronic Image Stabilization
  • Resistant to salt water corrosion
  • Fishing accessories
  • Brushless motors
Check the official site
paul posea
Paul Posea
Hi, I'm a long-time drone reviewer and I hope my articles and comparisons on this site as well as Dronesgator's youtube channel are of as much help as possible.
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