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How to Fly a Drone

by Jason Pedersen March 10, 2016

How to Fly a Drone

Flying a drone isn’t a terribly difficult process, as the main challenge is simply getting used to operating it. Once you’ve mastered flight, there are lots of fun things to try with your drone, particularly if it has camera and video capabilities. If you’re new to the world of quadcopters and want to ensure your investment doesn’t end up smashed into a million tiny bits, check out the following tips and tricks to get you started:

Radio Transmitter Controls

Give yourself some time to become familiar with your drone’s controls. The Roll control tilts your quadcopter right and left by speeding up the rotors on one side while slowing them down on the other. The Pitch control tilts the drone backward and forward, while the Yaw control rotates the unmanned aerial vehicle. The Throttle control varies rotor speed and subsequently controls the up-and-down axis.

Figuring out the radio transmitter is a fairly straightforward process, particularly if you’re well versed in playing games with a game console.

Battery Button, GPS Signal, and Compass

Once you’ve become familiar with your controller, you will want to find a nice spot for flight and turn on the drone’s battery. This is usually located at the back of the quadcopter, and your drone will likely make a “startup” noise. The next step is to wait for the drone to pick up a GPS signal if it has the capacity, which generally takes about two minutes. There’s a green light on the back of many drones that starts blinking quickly when the vehicle has found the signal. As this is your first time operating your drone, you’ll have to calibrate its compass.

Work the throttles on your controller to let the drone’s rotators know to begin turning. Experiment as much as you want until you become familiar with operating your drone.

Safety Tips

Select a park or open field if flying your drone outdoors for the first time, and do so on a day with little to no wind. Look around your chosen area, and keep in mind that the fewer trees and shrubs it features, the better. Perform a battery check before you begin, as you don’t want your battery to run out while your quadcopter is mid-flight. Keep your drone within your line of sight at all times; this is important not just for safety reasons, but also for legal ones. The Federal Aviation Association’s regulations on drone use include always keeping the vehicle in your line of sight, and never flying it more than 400 feet in the air. Drones must be kept away from airports and most other commercial areas as well.

Remember, if you aren’t sure if flying your drone is allowed in your selected area, call your local government office to obtain permission rather than doing things “the hard way.”

Practice, Practice, Practice

Practice flying your drone and enjoy mastering your technique in very little time. If flying outdoors isn’t a possibility yet, start with nano drones designed for indoor use. Once you get used to operating such quadcopters, you’ll be ready to “graduate” to bigger options.

Jason Pedersen
Jason Pedersen


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