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First Flight

You’ve bought a drone, and waited (or are waiting) through the seemingly never-ending shipment period. Now it’s time for your first flight. This is usually nerve-racking for first time pilots but it doesn’t have to be. Check out some of these tips to help you get your drone off and back down to the ground safely. Some tips for mastering basic flight maneuvers are included as well. As always, if you think I missed anything important, I’d love to know!

Research

Before you attempt to fly your drone, you should know as much about it as you can; Which safety features does your drone have? How does it behave when it’s battery is getting low? How long is the flight time? Does your drone have obstacle detection? Can it withstand some wind? These are all crucial to know for your first flight. If you have a drone with Return Home features, you may want to check how your drone will set the home point and how low it will fly back home.  Lastly, know the controls before flying for the first time in order to know which joystick goes up, down, left, right, etc.

Preparation

You’ve done the research, now it’s time for the drone preparations. Charge up all your batteries for the drone, the remote, and a smart device if you can live stream the camera feed. Most often, a new drone will need some software updates, so make sure you turn on the drone and download any necessary apps and updates. Once it’s all updated, check the weather and wind conditions to ensure it’s a nice day for flying. Find a nice open area away from people for your first flight. Generally, soccer fields work well, giving you plenty of open space.

Start your engines

Start up your drone followed by the remote and any app. The first thing you should do after powering on all your equipment, is calibrate the drone. Calibrating your drone ensures the magnetometer is set correctly. The magnetometer is a compass that guides your drone, without an accurate setting on the calibration, you can run into issues while flying. Calibrating is very easy and I would strongly recommend you do it before any take off. After calibration, make sure you’ve got plenty of space around you for take off and landing. I prefer to stand a few feet  behind my drone, with the drone facing away from me. If you’re drone has auto take-off and landing features (nice choice), go ahead and initiate take-off.

In Flight

Once you’ve got the drone in the air, I recommend keeping it just a few feet above the ground and familiarizing yourself with the movements from the remote. Go up a few feet, then bring it back down a few feet. Just like with a car, when you are at an accelerated speed and want to stop, there is a stopping distance. You should practice flying forward and back to get comfortable with your drone’s stopping distance.

Practice

I highly recommend you practice flying your drone in a large square flight path. This shape lets you practice both flying the drone away from you as well as towards you with basic turns, becoming familiar with the Pitch and Roll movements of the drone. You should aim to fly as often as possible to keep up with your new skills. After you feel comfortable with flying a square path, you should practice flying in a large figure 8. A figure 8 path will force you to learn Yawing and make you more fluent with your movements.

Once you’ve got a good grasp on flying both a square path and a figure 8, try to fly while focusing on the remote and less on watching the drone itself. As you get more familiar with your drones abilities, you’ll start to notice that you don’t need to constantly look up at the drone every second, as you’ll know exactly where it’s flying by watching the camera feed.

Hey! My name is Mike Miller. I'm a drone enthusiast, self-proclaimed adventurer and web developer. Recently, I moved from the Tampa Bay area of Florida to the beautiful state of Colorado. I love to share what I am filming, learning, or have learned with fellow drone pilots. Follow the adventures @SkylineAperture on instagram. If you ever have any questions or want to say hello, send me a message! Have fun and fly safe!

mike@bearing270.com

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