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Becoming A Better Drone Pilot, Part 2

(Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Chris Anson. See more of his work here)

In Part 2 you’re going to take the next step in refining your control of the drone. If you haven’t read and practiced Part 1 of this article, I recommend you do that before proceeding. You can find Part 1 here.

**Warning** You could crash your drone when practicing these maneuvers.

That being said, don’t go into this practice thinking you’ll crash. Go slowly. Take your time. Don’t push faster than you’re able. And don’t let others push you beyond what you know are your limits!

Preparation

You’re going to use the same preparations as in Part 1. You can review those here.

At the Field

Lay the bricks out to form a square, about 15 feet from where you land and takeoff, and approximately 25-30 feet apart. As you get better, increase the distance between the bricks.

The Practice

In this practice, you’re going to pick up where you left off in Part 1. You’re going to start using the left stick to make more precise turns.

From your starting position that I talked about in Part 1, take your drone off and let it hover about 15 feet in the air above your take-off point. Keep your fingers/thumbs on the sticks at all times. This is the habit you need to develop.

Now using both left and right sticks on the remote, position the drone over the first brick. From the first brick, begin flying from brick to brick using a combination of the right stick to keep the drone tracking around in the circle and the left stick, to turn the nose of the drone in the direction of the circle.

When you’re able to fly the circle with the drone passing over each brick, keeping the nose of the drone pointed into the turn and following the circle as in Example 1, then you’re ready to increase your speed.

The tendency with inexperienced pilots is to have the drone flying slightly sideways in turns, rather than have the nose of the drone follow the turn. To be able to do this well, you’ll need both hands and sticks working together with soft movements. This practice will help you develop coordination between the right and left sticks.

When you feel confident doing this counterclockwise, repeat the practice clockwise.

Banked Turns

When you’re able to fly the circle above with confidence and precision, you’re ready to start banking your turns.

A banking turn is where you use more right stick to roll the drone in the direction of the turn. You combine this with the left stick to keep the nose of the drone in the direction of the turn and to follow the circle.  As you increase the amount of bank in the turn, you may find you need to increase your speed. This practice will allow you to start making beautiful smooth turns like the more experienced pilots.

Banking turns are initiated using the right stick. A banking turn to the right requires the right stick to be pushed further right. A banking turn to the left requires the right stick to be pushed further to the left. One of the challenges is to not push the stick too far in either direction. When you push too far, it causes the drone to turn too sharply, losing altitude and can be disorienting. Because of this, it’s a good idea to increase your altitude. This gives more room to recover if you get disoriented.

In banking turns the left stick is used to keep the nose of the drone pointing into the turn, just like you practiced in Example 1.

To do this smoothly takes practice and being soft on the sticks. As you get more confident, start practicing in higher winds.

Fly safe and have fun!

Chris Anson is a FAA licensed Part 107 Pilot. With a background in landscape photography and video, at the beginning of 2017, Chris took these skills to the air using a drone, also earning his FAA Part 107 Drone Certification, allowing him to do commercial drone work. His transition to flying drones was aided by having flown large 6’ rotor span radio controlled helicopters for 5 years. Chris started The Anson Group Drone Videography and Photography company with the focus on working as a contractor for other companies, flying their drones and his own, as well as capturing stock videography and photography. Chris flies a DJI Inspire 2 drone with Zenmuse X5S camera. See examples of his work here.

Fly Safe and Have Fun!

DJI Mavic Air at B&H

DJI Mavic Pro at B&H

DJI Phantom 4 Pro at B&H

BJI Inspire 2 at B&H

All Drones at B&H

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