Drones are really a lot of fun once you safely learn to fly them. Here are a few important tips to help you get up and flying. I didn’t list them in any particular order, so be sure to read through all of them before you get started.
- Know how to shut your drone off quickly! As youre learning to fly your drone, things can sometimes get out of control. The best thing to do is land the drone and shut it off. Practice just turning it on and off, without lifting it from the ground.
- Find a large, open area outside for your first flight. Its going to take some time to get comfortable flying and having a large area with few obstacles will make learning a little easier. Until you become really proficient at flying, avoid flying the drone indoors or in populated areas.
- Make sure to set the GPS if your drone is GPS enabled. If your drone is not GPS enabled, that’s ok…it just might take a little longer to to master flying. DJIs GPS should hold the drone in place when its a few feet off the ground. If the drone starts to drift, your GPS may not be calibrated correctly.
- Practice takeoff and landings. Bring the drone up to eye level and then land it. Do it several times to make sure you’re taking off and landing smoothly, especially if you have a camera attached to the bottom.
- Start by flying at eye level. While youre learning how to fly, keep the drone at eye level. You’ll be able to see all sides of the drone without having to look up at it, making it easier to tell what direction its facing. If you lose control, you can grab the landing gear and hold it until you can shut it off. Don’t be afraid to walk behind it as youre flyingStaying close helps to build confidence when flying (and makes it easier to save the drone if its about to crash).
- Practice Yawing. Yawing is the rotating of the drone. Lets say you fly it straight 20 feet in front of you. You could simply fly it backwards to you, or you can yaw the drone and change the direction to face you. Now when you press forward on the remote, it comes back to you. Please understand that yawing is one of the most complicated things to learn with your drone. If you get disoriented, slowly press the throttle to see what direction its facing and try to yaw it back to facing you. Otherwise, just land it and start again.
- Download the App. If your drone has a camera and an accompanying app, be sure to download it and make sure its connected before launching the drone. You can download the DJI Go app here: http://www.dji.com/product/goapp
- Don’t grab the propellers. Even though some of the propellers may be plastic, it still can hurt or take off a fingernail once they get up to speed. If youre using carbon fiber propellers, its even more dangerous. Be careful around the propellers.
- Install the Bumper Guards. If your drone came with or offers bumper guards, Id recommend using them. Not only do they protect the propellers, but they can help a drone bounce off a wall rather than crash and fall to the ground.
- Read the remote control manual. I know everybody hates to read the manual, but at the very least look over the diagram of the remote control. Know what each button and lever does. Understand where the throttle is and where the yawing control is. On DJI remotes, there are flip switches on the top left and right of the controllerknow which position you need to be in for proper GPS modes and such. Set yourself up for success and give yourself the best chance to fly smoothly.
Don’t Forget to Register
All drones over .55 pounds need to be registered with the FAA. Its a very simple process, but it generates a registration number that must be visible on the drone. Even if youre just a hobbyist in your backyard, spend just a few minutes registering the drone so youre good to go and never have to worry about it again. We even put together a step-by-step guide to registering your drone here.
Once youve got the basics down, design a short obstacle course that will test your skills. Ive used things like hula hoops to fly through and basketball hoops to fly around.
Flying a drone is a ton of fun and can create some really cool images or videos. With a little bit of practice, Im confident you’ll be an expert flyer in no time!
Connect with Nick using the links to the left, or email nick (@) photofocus.com.