19 Uses For A Drone During SHTF

Drones are flying surveillance cameras or eyes in the sky. They have multiple uses pre and post-Apocalypse. Drones replace large search groups and allow for surveillance under high threat situations without risking human life.

The downside of drones is you need a way to charge the batteries and many capabilities are lost without GPS satellites.

Still, they are worth considering if you have the basic prepping items squared away.

  1. Perimeter Surveillance: Drones are good for neighborhood security because you can respond to specific locations when a threat arises.
    • This is good to keep humans out of harm’s way and allows small groups to concentrate resources in a specific location.
  2. Point Man:
    • Use a drone if you are trying to get out of a highly congested area that is unsafe for bugging-out. Use your drone for forward recon. Use it as an eye in the sky to walk you out of the situation to avoid actually walking into an unknown threat.
    • Avoid crowds, groups of miscreants, illegal checkpoints, fires, fights, congested roadways, downed bridges, etc.
  3. Disaster and Emergency Response: This could be post SHTF or during a natural catastrophe. Try not to interfere with emergency response personnel.
  4. Reconnaissance Roles: Drones allow for real-time advanced warning of forces on the move or entering your area. Track direction, distance traveled, and force size.
  5. Force Multiplier: “The ability to accomplish greater feats” than without a drone.
    • The drone replaces multiple people on the ground. This is useful for small groups or individual families that don’t have the resources for recon.
    • Think like the Spartans, rush to fill the gaps. Move resources where they are needed.
    • Search huge areas that would take days or weeks on the ground.
  6. Search and Rescue Use Drones in post SHTF situations to save lives by pinpointing injured or lost people quickly with fewer resources.
  7. General Safety: The drone shows you what’s out there and takes the place of moving into an area on foot.
    1. Direct ground recon is more dangerous than a fly-over with a drone.
  8. Bug-out Recon Use the drone in place of a point-man as you move towards your goal.
    • Use drone information to avoid difficult geography or physical threats.
  9. Search for Marauders, Mobs, or Armed Bands
    • A drone is particularly useful in urban areas during times of unrest.
    • Certain groups are threatening to enter neighborhoods and burn homes. See them coming and respond accordingly.
  10. Assess Damage Quickly:
    • Imagine you live where there are 4 possible escape routes; two of those routes are over bridges, 1 is via the ocean, and the other is a highly traveled road with bottlenecks. (this is my scenario)
    • You could hike to each exit route to assess the situation or send up the drone.
    • You could go on foot to conserve battery until you hear or see something troubling and send the drone up to scout it out.
  11. Design:
    • The birdseye view from a drone gives you the ability to see relationships between ground objects and to understand security in a different light.
    • Drones make it easier to see and design evacuation routes, avenues of approach and locate danger areas that require fortification.
  12. Survey Areas to Find Resources:
    • This saves hiking around blindly and helps keep you safe.
    • During drone recon, you find that there isn’t anyone outside that huge Wally Mart or Home Depot. Looks safe. Let’s go in and get some supplies.
    • Or you see that there are 300 Hell’s Angel Motorcycles in the parking lot. Let’s not go to Wally’s.
  13. Hunting:
    • Recon how game animals are moving and where they are.
    • Drones will make it easier to find game trails, set up tree-stands, and bird-blinds
  14. Communication:
    • Transport messages over rough terrain from one area to another by taping a handwritten note to the drone and sending it to another outpost or location
  15. Hazardous Material Environment:
    • Drones are not affected by hazardous chemicals or nuclear fallout. As long as you can decontaminate them or consider them a one and done throw away item.
  16. Carry Small Payloads:
    • Most drones have the ability to act as a courier by carrying hand-written messages, small disc drives messages, or small parts.
  17. Look for evacuation route(s) Seeing the lay of the land from the sky gives you the ability to see breaks in the terrain and less challenging geography that would take days to find on foot.
  18. Ranch Management:
    • Fly over fence lines to check for damage or breaches and check the health of your livestock.
    • Mitigate predatory animals
  19. Fishing Spots:
    • Look for ponds and other bodies of water, good fishing structure, and safe points of entry.
  20. Autonomous Flight:
    • Set up your drone with interface software to make pre-set flight patterns for autonomous security. Check ingress and egress locations and property boundaries.
    • Autonomous flight is only available if the drone has the capability, and GPS satellites are up and running.
    • Autonomous flight is not detectable with a Radio Frequency Analyzer.
  21. Hobby or Side Hustle:
    1. Professional Video
    2. Professional Photos
    3. Survey of commercial construction
    4. Real estate and property marketing
    5. Videos of hotels and resorts
    6. Disaster and emergency preparedness
    7. Post-natural disaster assessment
    8. Insurance Assessment
    9. Search and rescue.
Ready Squirrel

8 Reasons You Don’t Want A Drone For SHTF

The biggest drawback of using a drone in an SHTF situation is the power requirements for charging batteries and the GPS signals provided by satellites. An alternate charging method like solar is a must-have if you want to keep your drone running.

  1. Require a method to charge batteries.
    • You will need an alternate electricity source like a solar charging station or a generator to charge batteries in Grid-down scenarios.
  2. Global Positioning System (GPS)
    • Many Drones don’t require GPS to operate, but you lose a lot of capability when satellites are down. Autonomous flight and waypoints depend on GPS.
  3. Trackable To Your Location
    • If you aren’t careful flying, you could give away your location but it is possible to take circuitous routes, fly at a higher elevation to mask noise and follow terrain to mask your location.
    • To keep tracker off your scent takeoff and recover drones away from your actual home-base and change the location often.
  4. Limited Battery Charge:
    1. Can only cover a limited amount of territory with one battery
    2. It takes a day to charge a drone battery with a small solar unit.
  5. Spare Parts Are Required:
    • Professional drone pilots say, “it’s not if you crash your drone. It’s when you crash it.”
    • Drone parts are technical and not easy to make, so have spares on hand.
  6. Affected By Weather:
    • Drones are most effective in good weather.
    • You can fly some models in heavy winds, but the electronic parts can be damaged by rain or snow.
  7. Expensive:
    • Drones can cost thousands of dollars.
    • Throw in software, a remote, batteries, alternate charging resources, night vision, infra-red, etc., and you are talking big bucks.
  8. Not For The Average Prepper
    • Don’t even consider getting a drone unless you are in the advanced stages of prepping.
    • Food, water, utilities, alternate power sources, food processing equipment, bug-out locations, etc. come first.
  9. Urban Prepping: I think this is one of the top uses for a drone in SHTF, like civil unrest. Unfortunately, drones are restricted or illegal to fly in many U.S. cities. Fly your drone in a legal area and have it as back up just in case.
Portland Drone Footage

11 Things to Consider When Purchasing A Drone For SHTF

  1. Battery-Time: You’re looking at an average battery time from 20 to 30 minutes, but technology is constantly improving.
  2. Flight-Time: Flight times are increasing, but you can expect to get a: 30-minute flight-time from the average drone battery.
  3. Camera Quality: Get a camera that is good enough to provide the visual information you need.
    1. The more capabilities a drone has, the more it’s going to cost.
  4. Obstacle Avoidance Radar (Won’t let you fly into an object like a building)
  5. Size: consider how you will use the drone for prepping.
    • Are you using it at a Bug-in location, or are you on the move and bugging-out?
    • If you are bugging out, use a smaller drone to fit in a go-bag, and don’t forget about the batteries and remote.
  6. Return to Base Capabilities: Some drones can be programmed to return to base.
    1. GPS and SAT coverage is required for this capability.
  7. Remotes: Larger remotes give you a bigger picture and allow the pilot to see more detail.
  8. Visibility and Size Vs. Capability: Look for a drone that is harder to see during daylight but still provides the capabilities you need.
  9. Blinking Lights: Purchase Drone models that have the ability to turn lights off, so the drone is harder to detect
  10. Wind Rating: Some drones are more stable in high-winds
  11. Used Drones: unless you know the person selling it, avoid purchasing a used drone. You never know how it was treated, if it’s gotten wet, crashed, etc.

9 Drone Safety Tips from the FAA

  • Register Your Drone with the FAA if it weighs more than .55 pounds
  • The maximum allowable Drone flight Ceiling is 400 FT
  • Keep Your Drone within line of sight.
  • Be aware of FAA Airspace Restrictions.
  • Respect Privacy
  • Never fly near other aircraft or airports.
  • Never fly over groups of people, public events, or stadiums full of people.
  • Never fly near emergencies such as fires or hurricane recovery efforts.
  • Never fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol

Register Your Drone With the FAA

Where Can I Fly My Drone?

Check out the Federal Aviation Administrations B4UFLY smartphone app that provides interactive maps showing no-fly zones for your drone. Follow this link

16 Things An Enemy Could Discover Using A Drone 

Have you ever been cruising the Survival forums reading articles about people’s plans for SHTF? There is always that one wise guy that chimes in, “I’m not prepping. I plan on taking what other preppers have.” You can infer that this is the type of person who will use a Drone in SHTF. The following is information that could be used against you by nefarious drone users.

  1. How many people are in your group? How many people you have to react to a situation. Enemies can plan for what they are up against.
  2. Your habits: Everything you do in and around camp.
  3. When you or others are away from the survival location: If half your group is away from camp, that might be the perfect opportunity to strike.
  4. The sex and age of those in your group. This might indicate weakness or vulnerability. Maybe they deal in human trafficking, slavery, or they want women in their camp.
  5. What kind of vehicles and weapons you have. Again the enemy knows what they are up against, and they want your vehicles.
  6. How you run security: Drone recon lets the enemy know how you set your security details and allows them to look for a pattern or schedule.
  7. Best routes of ingress and egress: If they decide to attack your camp or come in when you are gone. The enemy will know the best routes in and out of your camp.
  8. When you load vehicles with supplies, and where to hit them
  9. Scavenging operations: If you are scavenging with your group, they will know when people are gone, and your camp is most vulnerable.
  10. Gardening, farming operations: How much food you have, how long you spend out in the fields. When the bulk of your people are outside of the camp and slower to react.
  11. Livestock on hand: Maybe they want your chickens, beef cattle, or they want to raid your garden at just the right time to harvest.
  12. Equipment on hand: Look for things to steal and know your vulnerabilities.
  13. Everyone sleeps: This may indicate the best time to attack your camp when you are most off-guard.
  14. Off-site locations: Tracking people or vehicles from your location to sister camps or groups you work with.
  15. Location of gear caches: If you travel to a gear cache, they may see you pulling supplies or checking the gear. They could easily wait for you to leave and move in to take your supplies.

Tip: Plan to change up your activities in a survival scenario. Do your best to avoid being predictable so the bad guys can’t come up with a solid plan of attack.

Minneapolis Drone Footage

6 Methods to Detect Drones

Drone detection is the territory of military and law enforcement. There is gear to detect drones, but it isn’t 100% effective, it is illegal for civilian use, and it’s expensive.

Radio Frequency Analyzer #1

Radio Frequency Analyzers detect the radio signal between the drone and the pilot. The system is made up of one or multiple antennas spread out that detect radio wave communication and run them through a processing unit to analyze data.

The downside of radio-frequency analyzers is they are short-range and won’t detect drones flying autonomously or without a pilot.

For many drone models, it is possible to preset coordinates and way-points, including back to base. The pilot isn’t communicating with the drone because it’s on auto-pilot.

Microphones #2

Microphones can be used to detect drones’ sound, but they don’t work well in noisy environments and are pretty short range. You can get a triangulation on the general direction of the drone, but that’s about it.

Cameras #3

Usually used along with one of the other methods of drone detection.

A video camera may have infrared or thermal imaging capability but overall they have poor performance in bad weather. Cameras aren’t very effective without other drone counter-measures.

Radar #4

A Radar is pretty much just for the military or a government agency. The radar sends out a radio signal burst that hits an object and bounces back to the receiver as an echo.

Radar is long-range and offers constant tracking of an object in the sky. It also tracks all drones whether on auto-pilot or not.

Radars track everything and don’t distinguish between different types of objects. You could be tracking a bird or a drone.

The icing on the cake, you need a license to use radar and you aren’t going to get one. Also requires an alternate power source in SHTF.

Micro-Doppler Radar/Weather Radar/Marine Radar #5

Unfortunately, you can’t use a doppler radar because they must be licensed and approved. Microwave energy is nasty stuff if it isn’t used properly.

  • Tracks moving objects
  • Detects speed variations in blade movement so can determine the difference between a bird and a drone.

Drone #6

Using your own drone isn’t a method of detection. Besides getting a visual on a drone, it’s the only defense the average prepping community is going to have against nefarious drone usage.

By using drones in your own defenses, you can counteract the enemy’s surveillance. You can see when they approach your Bug-in location and you can find their location and surveil their camp. That way you know what you are up against.

Use drones at your camp so you will be aware of any possible threats like camps or prepping communities in your area.

Maybe you make contact and maybe you don’t. Drones are going to show you the types of activities going on and may prompt you to do some hidden recon.

If you are being monitored, it is likely the person doing the monitoring is mobile or coming from one of the other camps you are already aware of.

5 Drone Counter Measures for SHTF

Just an FYI, don’t go around blowing drones up or you are in for a world of hurt. It’s illegal.

For all, you know the drone buzzing around outside your house is being operated by law enforcement agencies tracking a drug house. 34 Countries have limited drones to the point that they are useless, or they are outright banned. (for civilian use)

Using these techniques is not legal in your area. As a matter of fact, most of these methods are not legal unless they are being used by law enforcement or military personnel. In an end-of-world scenario…all bets are off.

RF Jammer #1

A device that blasts the RF signal at the drone drowning out the control signal from the pilot. Depending on the drone, it may land, return to the user, crash to the ground, or fly off.

The problem with RF Jammers is they may jam other radio signals and make the drone do unpredictable things. Not good if it has a payload.

GPS Spoofer #2

A device that replaces the Global Positioning System communication used for navigation. The drone won’t know where it is. The person using the spoofer can control the drone.

High Power Microwave #3

You’re a prepper, so you’ve probably heard of EMP or Electromagnetic Pulse. It’s similar to EMP coming from a nuclear explosion. These babies either disrupt electronic circuitry in the drone or fry it completely. this is military-grade gear like bringing a hand-grenade to a knife fight. It may destroy other electronics in the vicinity.

Net Guns #4

Net guns can be fired from another drone or a shoulder-fired cannon. It’s just like netting a bird or a butterfly.

The downside of the net is they have a limited range, and you have to detect the drone before you can use the cannon.

High Powered Lasers #5

These are big military-grade systems that only the armed forces will ever have. You can take down jets with these things.

Birds of Prey #6

This is a little out there, but some organizations train eagles to take drones out in flight. Most notably, the Dutch police.

The program has been squashed. The main reason, the Eagles weren’t following orders.

3 Alternates To Drones For Detection and Early Warning

Choose one of these other options to amp up your security or plan to use them together to fortify your SHTF Security Plan.

  1. Trail Cameras: Not real-time information but maybe a good addition to your overall security plans. This kills two birds with one stone. You can track game animals and human threats.
  2. Drive Way Alerts or Motion Detectors: use these to monitor the main points of access to your SHTF or Bug-out location.
    • You can add multiple sensors to one receiver for wider coverage
    • Battery operated versions are available
  3. Fixed Wing Plane FPV (First Person View): quieter, faster, and longer battery life than drones.
    • Fixed Wing Planes are more challenging to take-off and land than drones.


If you want to get a drone or unmanned aircraft system you need to know the rules of where and when you can fly and licensing or registration requirements.

Follow the link to the Federal Aviation Administration to learn how to get started flying for recreation purposes. Federal Aviation Administration, Getting Started

If you are interested in becoming a Certified Remote Pilot Including Commercial Operators Check out the FAA rules Commercial Operator

Become A Commercial Drone Pilot FAA

“Eyes of the Army” U.S. Army Roadmap for Unmanned Aircraft Systems 2010-2035 PDF