Published: January 30th, 2017
Drones can be a lot of fun. They can be a great addition to your photography gear, a toy for the hobbyist, and a tremendous asset for your business. For everything drones can bring, there are a lot of things to consider before flying a drone for the first time. There are five things I learned about flying a drone that I wish I would have known before getting into it. Hopefully this post saves you a lot of heartache and money if you’re considering flying a drone.
The first thing I did when I got a drone was name it. I typically do this with all of my expensive purchases. My first car was Steven the Subaru, my current car is Morty the Mazda, my first drone was Derek the drone, and my current drone is Darryl the drone. The things that get named are usually things that tend to have a personality to them. However, my current drone is named Darryl for no good reason at all. I felt like it was a good name and that’s that. It’s also fun to yell “Go Darryl Go” when it flies off into the distance to take awesome photos.
Some people think I named my drone after the character from The Walking Dead. That wasn’t the case. However, Daryl from The Walking Dead is quite a badass. I guess in that respect you could say that the two are tied together in some way. Otherwise, there isn’t a good reason for why I named the drone Darryl. Darryl is a fun name to yell out and that’s the story I’m sticking with.
This was one of the first mistakes I made when flying my drone. The advertising told me that the drone could fly as far as two miles and I wanted to try that out. I forgot to consider that the controller transmits a frequency to the drone that can be disrupted by other frequencies in the air.
The more expensive drones you find tend to have GPS built into them. This is an awesome feature that’ll allow your drone to stay in one location without it drifting away from you. However, the only way you can modify where it flies is through a transmission that is sent by the controller. Your app will tell you the drone is out of range when your controller loses signal with it. I can guarantee that you’ll have a slight panic attack when it happens and you’ll frantically try to come up with a plan to retrieve your drone. When this happens, try not to panic and don’t start playing with the controls to get it back. This can cause the drone to crash if it senses a command that tells it to turn off. In that case, you’ll never get your drone back and you’ll be out a couple grand. However, you’re in luck because the drone has GPS.
Before your drone takes off, it marks a coordinate that it designates as its “home point.” This point serves as a way for the drone to fly back to you when you either lose sight of it or lose signal. When you fly your drone out of range, make sure to hit the “Go Home” button. With controllers that control DJI drones it’s typically a little circle with a H in the middle and an arrow pointing down at it. Pressing and holding that button will guarantee that your drone will eventually receive that signal and head back to its original launch point. That’s pretty neat isn’t it? Once you see it coming back into range, you can cancel that command and fly it back down to you safely.
I say this from experience. Remember when I said my first drone was Derek? Yeah. He might have had an accident. I didn’t have him long enough to get a good picture, otherwise I would show him in this blog post.
As a new drone pilot, I can guarantee that you’ll hit your drone against something or crash it at least once while you’re learning to fly it. This is perfectly normal and shouldn’t stop you from flying a drone all together. Piloting a drone takes a lot of patience and practice to become good at it. I would recommend getting the little propeller bumpers if you’re concerned about crashing your drone. DJI has special bumpers for your drone just in case you’re interested in protecting your drone from carnage. I know I used them after I got Darryl. Darryl is still alive to this day.
There have been so many instances where I felt paranoid to fly my drone. This usually happens when I’m near a metro area or state park. With the surge of drone purchases recently, local and state governments have started implementing regulations to limit what you can and can’t do with a drone. Some of these laws are necessary for privacy and security reasons. You should never fly a drone over people, over a stadium, into an airport, to spy on your neighbors, and so on. You should fly a drone for good reasons such as taking awesome photos of nature. However, some places may not appreciate drones flying around even though the area may seem like a harmless place to fly. This happened to me when I was working in California for five months.
There was a weekend where I decided I was going to fly my drone. It was a beautiful day, I was in the bay area, and it felt like a great day to fly. I went up into the hills thinking that I would be away from people and be able to fly Darryl to get some great pictures. After a couple minutes flying, a ranger parked next to me and asked me to land my drone immediately. I realized that I was accidentally flying near a wildlife preserve that had a ban on drones. I apologized for the incident and landed Darryl immediately. The moral of the story, look up local laws and regulations before you fly a drone somewhere. Also, make sure you don’t fly your drone in national parks. You’ll have a bad time if you do.
People seem to be fixated on the whole concept of drones. For the longest time, people have thought of drones as planes we fly to different places to bomb cities. In recent times, drones have been in the spotlight for numerous reasons. Most of these reasons tend to be bad reasons such as people spying on their neighbors, someone flying it into the Space Needle, someone flying it into an airport, and many other reasons. With how much attention drones get in the media, people will naturally flock to you when they see you’re about to fly a drone.
When you start building a crowd, make sure you give everyone direction on what to do. The first thing you need to consider is the safety of people watching you. Make sure they are clear of the takeoff point, make sure they aren’t trying to touch your drone in flight, and make sure you feel confident flying the drone before a crowd starts to gather. Surprisingly, people tend to enjoy watching a drone fly around. In my experience, I’ve never had someone become combative when I launched my drone into the air. If they see that you’re out and about capturing awesome nature photos, they’ll want to see what your doing and what kind of photos you’re getting. Who knows, you might possibly sell some of your photography from them seeing what you’re doing. Always make sure you consider the safety of others before you do any drone flying.
There are a lot of other things that can be said about flying a drone. I personally feel like these are the five biggest things to consider before flying a drone. For everyone that has flown a drone, what are some tips and tricks you would recommend to the beginner pilot? Let me know in the comments below. If you would like to learn more about what it’s like to fly a drone, send me an email at Britton@EmpacDesign.com or post something to the Emerald Pacific Twitter to let me know what you’re curious about. Also submit your ideas of topics and discussions you’d like to see in this blog. I look forward to chatting with you all soon.
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