Fear of Flight
One real issue with new drone pilots is the “Fear of Flight“. Let’s be honest, Drones can be expensive and nobody wants to crash their new (or old!) drone. Myself as well as other drone pilots have experienced such a fear of flight that it actually keeps the drone from being used! Don’t let fear keep your drone grounded. This week’s post will cover some tips & tricks that I’ve used to overcome the fears, whether it was a fear of not knowing my drone, a fear of flying in front of others or maybe just a general fear of crashing. I’d love to hear some more tips & tricks from some of you to pass along to the newer members in our community! Let me know what helps you!
Know Your Drone!
First up is to learn about your drones camera, features, controls, terminology, rules and lastly the regulations. Before you can feel comfortable with your drone, you need to understand what it is & isn’t capable of doing. Almost all of these can be learned while your drone is on the ground. You should know if your drone has Return to Home features, where is “Home”, Do you have to manually set that “Home point” or does the drone do it on it’s own? Does your drone have any object detection sensors? Are those sensors located in front and behind your drone or just in the front? There are a lot of great resources out there for learning about your specific drone. If you want to check out some basic Drone Terminology, I’ve thrown a list together for you! Go through the settings on your drone app and see what features, functions and settings you can change. Maybe you have tall trees in your area and want the “Return to Home Height” to be a little higher than default. Maybe you want the auto-takeoff to start out higher/lower. All of these can be found in settings and you should feel comfortable adjusting some things around. Lastly, know the rules and regulations of where you are flying. This will help you out in the off-chance that someone approaches you about you flying your drone in this area.
Practice Makes Perfect
This one is obvious, but people have different ideas of what practice really means. When I say practice, I mean you need to get your drone outside, with plenty of room around you and burn through those batteries practicing the most basic flight movements. Repeat that every day…. One recurring piece of advice I and a lot of other drone pilots recommend is to get out and fly your drone low to the ground, away from any trees or objects (like a soccer field!). Keep the drone low and fly it in a basic square flight path. This will let you feel the controls and basic maneuverability of your drone. Once you feel comfortable with the drone in a basic square, try a figure 8 shape. The figure 8 teaches you the fluid movements your drone is capable of. While flying both the square and figure 8, I recommend filming so you can watch the footage and see how much the slightest movement can affect your film. Practice your take-offs and landings as well. The fancier drones have auto-takeoff and landing, but it’s still worth practicing and knowing. Lastly, once you are comfortable enough with the movements and controls, you should fly your drone by looking at your smart phone instead of at the drone. This helps you learn the Point of View from your drone. This is also super useful to know in case you are ever flying and not able to keep the drone in your line of sight. I know the FAA says always fly in line of sight, but there are circumstances that may not be 100% possible, so know home to navigate your drone back to yourself with just the remote and your smart device’s screen.
Plan Your Flights
Knowing were you are flying, what the weather is like, as well as the rules and regulations, will help in calming your nerves about the flight. Visualize some of the clips you want to grab and then plan out your flight path to make those clips possible. Anytime I’ve pictured exactly what I expect to grab from a flight, It’s helped me stay calm in the flight itself. It allows me to see exactly what flight maneuvers I need to take in order to capture what I’m picturing. I can picture and plan all of this from the ground before my drone has even taken off. You should feel comfortable flying in lighter winds, and know when winds are too strong to be flying in. There are a lot of Apps out there that help out with this. One that I love to use is from PolarPro (Check out the write-up here). It’s a free app that will tell you the weather and wind for your current location. It’s definitely worth checking out and extremely helpful when planning a flight. If you are planning to fly on vacation or a trip, check out the weather and wind reports the week before your trip to get an idea of what you may be seeing.
Arguably the most important tip: Keep Flying. The more you get the drone in the air, the more comfortable you will be. As you fly more regularly, you will be placed into new situations with your drone and new learning experiences. No amount of reading or tutorial videos can teach you like hands-on flying can. Keep a regular routine of flying. I was flying every day for 1-2 battery life’s to get over my fear of my Mavic Pro. Every day after work I’d rush home and take the drone out back. The daily flights don’t need to be anything spectacular since they are more for general practice. The daily flights are also a great way to mess with your camera settings and learn the different filming features your drone may have. It’s best to know the camera and the drone features before a trip so you don’t miss any great shots while adventuring around.
Ask Questions & Get Help!
The last tip I have is to Ask Questions! Don’t feel too shy or embarrassed to ask me or others about your drone. The drone community is a friendly one and we love to help out people with their drones. I’d hate to know someone’s got their drone on the ground because they were too afraid to ask a question or seek help. There are a lot of great forums and resources out there. Use them! I hang out in the Reddit thread for Drones as well as the Drone Photography thread. There are lots of great guys and gals out there helping people each day. Not only are these forums great places to ask questions, but they’re great for getting inspired by other pilot’s and their videos/photos too. Some would say that I browse these too much 🙂 Anyways, I hope these tips help you overcome any fears you may have. I’d love to know what else may have helped you, comment below to let me know!
As always, have fun & fly safe!