So you just purchased your first drone and now you want to capture awesome footage with it. Well, not so fast skipper! Before flying that drone you need to learn the basics of drone flight and the different laws in your area so you don’t get yourself in trouble. Without this knowledge, you're more likely to destroy your drone or run the risk of doing something illegal without even knowing!
Register your Drone!
The first thing you need to do after purchasing your drone is registered it with the FAA (If it weighs above .55 pounds). Even if you are just flying for recreational purposes, you still need to go through the registration process. You can register your drone at https://faadronezone.faa.gov.
It only takes a few minutes and can save you from expensive fines. Once you’ve registered your drone, you need to take a few minutes to read the manual and practice with a drone simulator.
Reading the Manual and Simulating Drone Flight
Many people break their drones because they do not read the manual for the basic flight controls and they just want to “fly” right away. Chances are you spent a lot of money on your drone so why not take the extra time to ensure a safe flight.
The manual will help you learn the controls and give you tips on what to do in certain situations. Drone simulators also help with teaching you how to fly and practice maneuvers without having to put your actual drone at risk. It’s a lot better to crash a virtual drone than it is a real-life one (Something I learned the hard way).
Now that you’ve read the manual and practiced flying on the simulator, it’s now time to get your drone off the ground.
Your First Drone Flight
Choose a large landscape (an open parking lot, field, possibly a backyard) to make sure you have enough room to fly your drone for the first time. Make sure there are no people in the area in case there are any accidents and have permission to fly in the location.
Once you find that perfect spot, make sure there are no people, power cables, and trees around, and check for strong winds. Make sure you are clear for flight and you are now ready to see what your drone can do!
Drone Flight Basics
The first time your drone takes off can be exciting, but now is the time to stay focused! Try to pay close attention to how your drone reacts to your input to the controller. How fast does it climb in altitude? How fast will it travel? Also, how fast are you comfortable flying your drone while still maintaining control?
Understanding how your drone will react with the amount of pressure you use on the joysticks is important! You need to quickly learn the controller’s cause and effect and once you do, you’ll learn how your actions affect your drone.
Tips to Remember for Beginner Drone Pilots
With this new technology allowing you to take to the skies, it’s important to know some tips for your new aerial journey.
Use a Visual Observer
Having somebody alongside you while you take your drone through the air is something that can be highly overlooked. These people are known as visual observers, someone who serves as a second set of eyes on your drone operation. Visual observers serve as that extra measure of safety. They scan the area for potential threats or risks to you and your drone.
A common tendency of drone pilots is to want to fly by the view of the camera, meaning they aren’t actually watching the drone themselves. This is actually against the FAA regulations, someone must always have a line of sight of the drone. So, bringing a visual observer will help you maintain a safe operation while you are in flight!
Know Your Controller
It’s also important to understand your controller's capabilities. Not just what it can do, but how it can be done. Each drone comes with factory settings on the controller so this means you can go through your drone and tweak it to better suit your flying style. This could be a complete change in the button layout or fine-tuning the speed at which your drone reacts to your input. Most people will quickly realize that the factory settings aren’t for them, so why not make your drone fly the way you want it to?
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