How to Fly a Drone: A Checklist and Instructions for Beginners Before First Flying

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Are you taking your new drone out of the box and into the open air? But wait! Before you start, check out this ultimate guide on how to fly a drone right now!

Everybody, when practicing how to fly a drone, experiences some struggles. These flying machines are certainly something you need to learn and adapt to. 

So in case you are experiencing difficulty flying your unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs), you are merely beginning, or you are hoping to enhance your skills — do not stress. 

You are in the right place!

Regardless of what your drone model is, this ultimate guide will assist you with getting ready for your first flight, remain safe, and get airborne. Here, we indeed aim to provide you with instructions and the checklist that will take out the entirety of the guesswork techniques.

Now, are you ready to get into it?

Tips & Common mistakes when flying drones

We have all done it; we quickly attempted to take to the sky with our brand-new UAV, fast crashing. It is anything but difficult to make a mistake operating your new aircraft. Here are a couple of the most common mistakes as well as what we suggest you do to stay away from them.

Fortunately, most of the mistakes on the following rundown are such common sense that will bode well to keep away from as you figure out the circumstance. The issues might be straightforward; however, when and how they appear may surprise you — let us assist you with getting ready for most possible eventualities from the sky.

DJI Phantom Pro flying
A drone from DJI. Photo by Christopher Carson on Unsplash.

One thing to note, we also call drones as UAVs, unmanned aircraft, flying machines, flying robots, or automation in this post.

1. Fly legally

First off, you need to register your automation with the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) before flying it! 

Many flying robots do not accompany an instruction set on what you are and are not permitted to do with them. This is not considered a problem in many places the world over, yet in the U.S., each craft whose weight is 0.55 pounds or heavier is required to register and stick to strict aeronautical guidelines. We have presented the specifics about drone rules and regulations; be sure you read through it to grasp the key points.

For fundamental UAV flight guidelines in America:

  • Fly at or under 400 feet over the ground 
  • Fly within the line of sight. Bring the device in, in case you cannot see it
  • Keep away from airports
  • Avoid planes – they have attained the right of way in the air
  • Try not to fly over human beings
  • Avoid flying over or near stadiums or sport events
  • Try not to fly close to emergency circumstances, for example, building fires or vehicle crashes
  • Try not to fly under the influence
  • Beware controlled airspace – utilize the B4UFly application 

All in all, it is worth noting that you cannot simply head outside and fly any place you wish. The regulations and rules are quite simple to go along – they are generally for the safety of yours and others surrounding you!

2. Be patient

We see the urge, we genuinely do, you have an incredible new flying camera or toy automaton, and you cannot wait to place it in the air at the earliest opportunity. Kindly, do not laugh in the face of any potential risk; if conditions are not proper, do not try to fly. 

We got to learn this the hard way ourselves. We got ourselves a UAV that we simply desired to see how it worked. It was a blustery night, and we faced the challenge. 

No expression of an untruth, no more than 50 seconds in the air, the wind was beyond the capabilities of the drone, and we had no alternative but to recover it by climbing a tree. The following morning conditions were great, and we got the chance to fly securely. 

It is the precarious thing about wind that you likely know, yet may overlook without giving it much thought; the higher you fly your aircraft, the stronger the wind may be. While ground conditions are acceptable, that may not apply when being higher up. Thus, consider it when you learn how to fly a drone.

3. Electric lines, light posts, and trees

The wind is the primary source of an automaton veering off into the trees, etc.; however, there are other factors that you ought to know about – for example, the helpful return-to-home (RTH) attribute included in numerous UAVs.

To begin with, you might be flying an automaton at low heights, with the high tree canopy above;n seems like no issue until the RTH highlight starts, and you figure out that it has a somewhat high programmed flight altitude. A lot of RTH modes take your flying robot to about 20 meters (60 feet) or more. 

RTH produces another hazard – this one is more straightforward: most UAVs notice that they are at point A, and point B is home. If there are no sensors for hindrance avoidance on the machine, you best guarantee that there are no snags between your automaton and where it calls home.

4. Remain in range and stay aware of controller interference

Most manufacturers of UAVs will promote their models’ effective range of operation. By the range, we do not refer to how much ground the robot is capable of covering before the battery runs out but the straight line distance between the machine and the controller. Remain in the range and get prepared to run toward your drone in the event that you slip up. 

a dji drone and its controller
A DJI drone and its controller. Photo by Victor Larracuente on Unsplash.

Clearly, you should attempt to abstain from flying in areas with high natural magnetic interference; it may mess with the GPS. It is not preferable to fly near big structures, radio towers, or electric lines. In these examples, your automaton may not manage to fly stable, and you are likely to end up losing control of the device for spells of time – we hope we do not need to tell you that is not a good thing what-so-ever!

Sure, there are things you can do to diminish these issues, yet the simple way is to consider these areas improper for flying your UAV.

5. Propeller wash

One of the most typical mistakes a UAV pilot can make is to fly excessively near the ground. Keeping it low seems like a safe action, particularly for those who are picking up how to fly a drone, yet you are making one of the least steady operating circumstances possible for an aircraft. 

It is because of the UAV flight’s physics. When the propellers turn, they will move air downward with an adequate force so that the unmanned aircraft can depart from the ground. As near the ground, that air will ricochet back up to the device. 

Since you hover near the ground, two things may happen: 

First, the automaton is provided with an additional boost. That high-pressure air will help keep the UAV aloft, though you will not really have sufficient throttle for sustaining the flight. 

It is fine to test this using a nano UAV in the home. Hover as low as possible on a counter or table, gradually navigate off the edge, and the automaton will drop to the floor. While the propeller wash indeed kept the robot from arriving on the table, there was insufficient capacity to really fly.

Second, and this is far more significant. The propeller wash is extra unstable. We have seen UAVs drifting low that, out of nowhere, whip into a spin or even totally turn over. Keep in mind that your automaton is generating an adequate flow of air to lift itself into the air; in case that air backs up into the drone after bouncing off the ground at a bizarre angle, weird things can occur. 

For just about any flying robots, you ought to be safe as soon as you are a couple of feet off the ground; however, we suggest, take off, promptly go to around seven feet or eight in the air, hover while you reevaluate the environmental factors, and notice how wind and that sort of things are influencing your machine. Afterward, proceed with your departure from there.

6. Update the software before going out

As straightforward as this idea sounds like, in case you are like us, you may usually neglect to check for updates before you head out. Obviously, burning up your mobile data, battery, and all that while you are in the field is an immense inconvenience. You can, without much of a stretch, keep away from this annoyance with a speedy plug into your PC and/ or check for any update for your mobile application.

7. Batteries die, rapidly 

Again, speaking of the idea of showing enough patience, apply that to power also. You might be enticed to take to the sky with not exactly a full charge. We are not considering this as a terrible idea, yet it is undeniable that you want to have a fabulous time while the automaton is up and will wish the battery kept going longer. 

people holding drone controller with low battery
Drones do not merely gradually hover to the ground since power gets down; instead, they basically stop and drop

There is enormous danger in running a battery low while flying your robot – these devices do not merely gradually hover to the ground since power gets down; instead, they basically stop and drop. 

This goes for the automaton as well as the remote control. Bear in mind that it is your lawful obligation to guarantee that your UAV moves and grounds securely; you ought not to take off in case you do not think it is possible for your machine to land. 

Taking off with a full charge on the entirety of your equipment is the most straightforward approach to prevent an unwelcome occurrence. Develop that habit right when you are learning how to fly a drone.

Tips & Common mistakes when taking photos/ video with your drone

The tips and tricks below are some of the most common mistakes that drone pilots make in the case of shooting videos and photos. For specific reasons, when even veteran picture takers fly an automaton, a couple of these UAV tips seem to go out of the window!

1. Consider your composition

We feel that having the camera be so distant from you and taking a gander at a remote image on your tablet or phone might be the reason for a few of the confusion of UAV photography. 

2. Make use of dimension for your potential benefit 

An incredible method to let your UAV photography truly “Pop” is to get the best out of dimension! Making an appropriate background, middle ground, and foreground is significant for creating movement and depth within the shots! 

For example, we traveled to the alps and had a difficult time showing heaps of dimension with the mountains as they were so enormous! Having an object to place in the foreground or middle was helpful to make more appealing shots with these beautiful mountains! Oh, as you would expect, they were already stunning mountains – so that helped as well!

3. Utilize manual camera settings to choose the appearance of your shots 

At the point when you genuinely desire to hone your photograph and video abilities, you will need to get progressively acquainted with setting your camera up manually. In case you do not know, auto settings are likely to crack up the ISO aside from introducing visible grain or noise to your general picture. It may be difficult to see on screen while you are operating your UAV, particularly when you do not genuinely ace how to fly a drone – however, you can tell as soon as you take the recording back to your PC to edit or watch.

A drone shot with DJI over houses near the ocean
A drone shot with DJI. Photo by Nathan Van de Graaf on Unsplash.

Now and then, your camera will begin in auto, and if everything appears appropriately exposed on the screen, you may think that the picture must look really great as well! But be that as it may, this will probably not be the case if the camera turns down the shutter automatically and introduces loads of motion blur with the picture. Do not forget to check the camera settings, okay? 

4. Shoot with the proper picture profile 

Selecting your image profile may appear as though an unimportant assignment based on the hues you are seeing on the phone or tablet while you are flying your drone. However, this UAV tip is significant! This is significant for any camera, yet for the UAV cameras particularly. 

In case you want to color grade the footage, an unquestionable requirement will be shooting in the log profile. But be that as it may, in case you are going to simply upload right from the automaton to the Internet – the typical profile will work fine and dandy on just about any UAV.

5. Do not neglect weather conditions 

With regards to tips and tricks for UAV photography, this is a major one to remember. This seldom gets considered in conventional photography; still, with the flying robots – there are bunches of weather conditions that will straightforwardly influence the quality of your pictures and videos! For instance, if your automaton cannot deal with ten mph winds, you will not have the option to reliably shoot a steady and straight video clip without your UAV bobbing everywhere. 

What to remember when flying in different places (city areas, mountains, winding areas, etc.)

It will be great if you have an idea of the places you are going to fly your UAV before you arrive. Scout the area beforehand, which will help you get the possibility of the landscape, risks, as well as what you desire to capture as video or photos. Before you send your automaton up in a new area, exploring that one will assist you in arranging your flight path. 

Figure out how windy the place is or the magnetic interference there. You would not wish your automaton to be unexpectedly blown away because of strong wind, or to crash owing to the radio interference, would you? That is why enhance your related knowledge and have a practical plan to stay away from obstacles.

1. Mountains

flying drone in the mountains
Flying drone in the mountains

A few crucial takeaways for how to fly a drone in the mountains are: 

  • You are high up in these areas and away from people, but that does not imply you can fly all over the place. There are plenty of parks with restrictions in the U.S, etc. 
  • Be mindful so as not to lose your automaton, as the unpleasant terrain likely makes it difficult to retrieve it.
  • Try not to disturb the nearby fauna. 
  • For every 6,000 feet (or 2,000 m) you go up in height, you may lose around ten percent of the battery power. 
  • Utilize the heat of your body to make your batteries stay warm. Place them in your pockets. 
  • Be cautious about unexpected changes in weather for the sake of not only your automaton but also yourself. 
  • Winds tend to rise on the mountain’s sun-lit side and fall on the shade side
  • Be sure you read the ultimate drone guide and reviews as well before you are in the market for a drone with the protective features in mountainous areas, etc. in mind. For instance, the Mavic 2 Pro from DJI is known as one of the most stable models that cope best with the changing patterns of wind.

2. Cities

Flying drone at the dusk in the city
Flying drone at the dusk in the city. Photo by Goh Rhy Yan on Unsplash.

When operated appropriately, UAVs can capture angles as well as collect crucial data in locations that small planes and helicopters fail to get to. Flying an automaton in crowded areas presents two main possible dangers: drifting resulted from wind tunnels that lurk between tall buildings and signal loss brought about by magnetic field interference. 

It is crucial that you carry out a comprehensive evaluation of risks, recognize likely hazards, and set up emergency procedures to guarantee the possibly safest result.

Before you head downtown, calibrate the compass

The most practical approach to forestall a fly-away, and guarantee area accuracy throughout the flight, is to calibrate the compass of your automaton. Find an open field, generally ten miles (15 km) away from where the flight in an intensely congested location is planned; abstain from parking structures with metal guardrails as well as mobile phone towers. Further, remove metal jewelry and watches since even a tiny smidgen of magnetic interference may disrupt this crucial procedure.

When at the calibration site, stick to the process for calibrating your UAV’s compass. With insignificant interference, it will represent magnetic declination, thus enabling it to work with a greater extent of accuracy. 

Be sure that you enable multiple modes of flight

When it comes to how to fly a drone, you cannot think lightly of flight modes. Many consumer-grade UAVs are outfitted with smart modes of flight and stabilization systems to guarantee seamless, consistent flights. 

For example, drones from DJI tend to come with three primary modes — Sport Mode (S), Attitude Mode (A), and Position Mode (P) — that you can access straightforwardly utilizing the remote control. Sport and Position Modes both count on Glonass and GPS to hold the position of the automaton in the air.

You may want to conduct just about any flight in Position Mode because it enables the UAV to hover in place and effectively come back. Yet, there will be times that signal interference is serious. 

Attitude Mode, which holds height but makes the automaton drift with the wind, should be the only choice to fly where signals get compromised. What’s more, part 107 rules permit a pilot to fly the drone as high as 120 meters (400 feet) over the most upper part of a structure, so experiencing strong winds is inescapable. 

Practice how to fly a drone in the Attitude mode 

As a general rule of thumb, you should not ever operate the flying robot between tall structures with GPS enabled. A lot of signals between structures lead to interference and make a considerable margin of error in the compass, which will set the automaton off course. The even worse case that a pilot is likely to experience when operating in a congested location is counting on Position Mode, which balances out the automaton and makes controlling it, for all intents and purposes, easy, only to have the UAV default to the Attitude mode once the signal gets inevitably lost.

It is troublesome to guide an automaton which drifts with the wind and doing so needs hours of planning. Practicing in an open, big field with not many trees and deterrents is the best strategy for figuring out how to keep up control of an automaton when it does not hover in place automatically. 

The first time attitude mode gets activated, the UAV will quickly float, and it may startle even the most veteran pilots. Do not be unprepared; figure out how to handle the flying robot so that it will be expertly guided on its planned path. 

Define the MOCA 

When operating your drone close to tall buildings, it is likely to lose its connection or run fundamentally low on battery power sooner than anticipated. The RTH (Return to Home) element will activate automatically and assume the compass is appropriately calibrated. That is when the automaton will fly back to the remote pilot. 

Making a safe path of flight requires you to define the tallest structure’s height in the location, and afterward include a margin of generally ten ft (three m) to guarantee the automaton clears each and every roadblock. You can determine the MOCA (Minimum Obstacle Clearance Altitude) in a few different ways. 

You can look into the information online for a group of structures that you are shooting. Another option is reaching a building manager. For less sizable, lesser-known structures that data is not promptly accessible, the foolproof way to decide MOCA is flying the drone with the gimbal pitch set to level, and elevating to where the impediment crosses the horizon.

Enabling hindrance shirking sensors is an extra suggested precautionary measure. Nonetheless, sensors cannot generally distinguish shiny surfaces or reflections. This is the reason building up MOCA and setting the RTH Altitude is critical. 

Attach propeller guards

In case you missed it, propeller guards are a powerful tool for forestalling an accident in the event that your UAV bumps into the wall. One the one hand, they are not totally foolproof; thus, the steps mentioned above should be taken. On the other hand, it is useful for having them set up. 

Please note that they will add weight to your flying robot, which may reduce the battery life at a marginally quicker rate. We suggest you practice how to fly a drone with them attached so that you can make adjustments as needed. Contingent upon the model of the automaton, systems for obstacle avoidance might become disabled with the utilization of propeller guards.

Keep the UAV within a closer proximity 

A visual observer should support complex tasks which ask for navigating a congested area, assisting in keeping watch of the automaton, and keeping up the visual line of sight. Usually, flying a max distance of 1600 ft (500 m) from your area is fine; nonetheless, in a jam-packed place, it is favorable to keep the automaton within closer range; about 500-800 ft (150-250 m) is perfect in case you are flying at an elevation that surpasses 400 ft (120 m). 

3. Wind locations

It is worth noting that:

  • Start your UAV someplace protected from the wind. Most mishaps occur in this flight phase, so you should focus on this tip when flying your drone in strong winds. Adjust the automaton with the front part confronting the wind and remain behind the machine at a protected separation. 
  • Be particularly cautious when you fly into the wind subsequent to beginning from the slipstream. The aircraft’s flight control will require time to make up for the wind.
  • Maintain a longer-than-typical safe distance in every direction during the flight. Sudden turbulence may happen whenever. Try not to fly over people, and consistently keep the automaton in sight. 
  • In the event that you intend to fly a more extended distance, you had better fly against the wind first. In such a stage, the UAV tends to consume the most power, and you can more readily estimate whether it has adequate power for the RTH flight. 
  • When flying wind up, the possibility is that the control signals’ reaction is sluggish. It is necessary for your control signals to be stronger than expected.
  • During the flight wind down, UAVs will, in general, overreact. Remember to set your control signals to be extra smooth, and take a gander at how the automaton reacts. The robot will be quicker than normal; hence, bear in mind that it will likewise take longer than usual to stop the UAV.
  • For the sequence of landing, we suggest hovering at a high elevation with the aircraft’s front side against the wind. When it comes to the transaction to the slipstream zone, the automaton may fly frontside precipitously owing to the flight control signals’ reaction time.

4. Recreational areas

We, as a whole, should do the right thing in case we desire to keep our privileges of flying UAVs. Furthermore, this implies keeping these flying robots out of restricted locations such as wilderness places.

Here are some good things to keep in mind when you practice how to fly a drone in state parks, among others.

  • Try not to buzz people looking for solitude in the outdoors. It may ruin their experience aside from possibly making them hate UAVs more. 
  • Keep your distance from natural life. The likelihood is you permanently change their behavior and make rules increasingly prohibitive. 
  • Keep up the sight of your automaton consistently; this is not just the law but will guarantee every other person’s safety.

A summary checklist before first flying

There are a couple of critical elements to think about before every UAV flight to ensure your drone, drone components, the people, and the environment within it will be safe and sound. A pre-flight checklist should ensure you have carefully considered every factor which may affect the experience and safety of your drone flying time.

Life is too short for not enjoying the things you do. So, even with the checklist, we have the easy way to help you remember it effortlessly. It works with SWEETEN! 

By SWEETEN, we mean:

  • S: Safety Kit,
  • W: Wind/ Weather,
  • E: Equipment, Environment,
  • T: Take-off,
  • E: Emergency-planning,
  • N: Notifications.

Let’s get into the checklist right below:

1. Safety kit

It is among the most crucial parts of a toolkit that a pilot may have. There should be the following tools in your kit: an anemometer, collapsible safety cones, a fire extinguisher, heavy duty holdall, a hi-viz vest, safety goggles, first aid kit, and hard hat.

2. Wind and weather

Do not forget to check the weather forecast and the prevailing conditions for your flight’s duration.

3. Environment

Keep an eye on your flying environment prior to lift-off. Be sure that you visually clock the cables, pylons, and overhead wires’ position. That is not all; scour the place for any bystanders and other people apart from animals and spectators.

4. Equipment – Drone checks

Make sure your UAV is in decent condition. Check for any structural defects and cracks, defective or loose wiring and damage to plugs. Again, be sure your batteries are fully charged.

Also, check the fail-safe functioning of your drone periodically, inclusive of RIH mechanisms.

5. Take-off preparation

Do not forget to carry out a range test as well as check the settings for your camera before the flight. We recommend that your flight start with a short hover test for about half a minute.

6. Emergency planning

Reasonable pilots will have particular emergency planning. It is an absolute necessity to have a working cell phone fully charged, yet keep in mind that some remote places may struggle for the signal. Remember to have somebody know where you will go and what time you will be expectedly home. 

A stocked kit for first aid ought to be your gear’s basic part and note down locations you can reach to ask for help in case of an emergency.

7. Notifications and permissions

Expressing permission from close-by property owners is necessary if you are flying your automaton close to residential properties. You may need the landowner’s authorization to be on their site. In case you want to film people, do not forget that you are probably going to need their consent to take their pictures.

In the event that you are flying your UAV in controlled airspace, you will have to notify the pertinent authority. It is probably necessary for you to complete a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM).

The bottom line: How to fly a drone

You unbox your new UAV, charge up your batteries, and are eager to go out to your first excursion with your new drone? In any case, before testing it under your planned destination’s open skies, make sure you check out the guide above. You definitely should be appropriately prepared to go with the flying robot so as to get the aerial shots of the most flawless scenes out there, etc. 

Remember these introductions and checklists while going around with your drone, and do not forget to share your experiences with us below!

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