How to Fly a Drone 101: A Beginner’s Guide

How to Fly a Drone 101: A Beginner’s Guide

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Unboxing your first drone is an exciting experience. The rustling of the packaging and unveiling a shiny new drone from inside gives the adrenaline rush that we crave.

But the excitement can soon fade away if you don’t know how to fly a drone.

It is impossible for you to master flying this device in the first attempt. A couple of shots is all it takes for people to abandon this newfound interest.

Those who give up can’t understand the enthralling experience you get from flying a drone.

So, whether you want to learn how to fly a racing drone, how to fly a propel drone, or how to fly a Syma x5c drone, this guide will get you started on your learning journey.

Even if you have already had a couple of failed attempts, this beginner’s guide will help you understand the prerequisites before you fly and get an understanding of the complex controls.

Why Should I Learn to Fly a Drone?

how to fly a drone

Drones sales have been increasing steadily over the past few years. Apart from aerial photography, weather, and traffic reporting as initial functions, personal drones have also become commonplace.

Therefore, if you know how to fly a drone, you have mastered a skill that will be pretty valuable in the near future.

Businesses are now using drones in creative ways to solve issues like food delivery, agriculture, and medical aid.

Therefore, if you learn to fly a drone, you can offer paid solutions to businesses or just find some creative uses for yourself.

Is Flying a Drone Hard?

Just like when you learn how to drive a car or a new skill or language, your brain has to build new neural connections. However, once you master the skill, it will seem like second nature because you are following along the already formed connections.

Similarly, there’ll be loads of confusion when you learn to fly a drone. When you are learning how to fly a drone for the first time, you’ll encounter failure, crashes, and damage to your drone more often than not.

So, it’s better to master the drone controls through simulation that helps you build your confidence before you fly it.

Some Prerequisites Before You Learn How to Fly a Drone

Even before you get onto your first drone flight, it is essential to get some prerequisites in place.

So, let’s get on with the steps you need to cover before the actual flying…

Register Before You Learn How to Fly a Drone

If you are learning how to fly a drone that is heavier than 250 grams or 0.55 pounds, you have to get a drone license before you learn to fly a drone.

This means that drones that are lighter than or equal to 250 grams might include those which are made at home with a simple motor or those that are used as a drone operator learning tool (which is a great way to learn to fly a drone by the way).

However, there might be some confusion as to registering one’s drone and the allowed drone activities under licenses. Here are some FAQs for clarifying the matter:

Do I need a license to fly a drone? Yes, any drone that weighs above 250 grams or 0.55 pounds has to be registered based on its usage.

Do I Need a Drone License For Recreational Use?

guy with drone license

The answer is yes! If your drone weighs more than 250 grams or 0.55 pounds, you need to register it under the Exception for Recreational Flyers. This registration costs $5, and the validity is three years.

However, when you are getting a drone license, you need to be sure of what you want to use it for. If you have registered it under the Exception for Recreational Flyers, you cannot use it for commercial purposes, not even small businesses, which comes under the Part 107 registration.

So, suppose you are learning how to fly a drone for activities other than photograph or fun like helping sell a property, taking photographs for school/ business and putting it up on a website, or even volunteering it for non-profit organizations where compensation is non-monetary.

In that case, you should get a Part 107 license because the license is non-transferable.

Flying the Drone in a Park

In uncontrolled airspace, drones registered under the Exception for Recreational Flyers can be flown in public parks below 400 feet.

You can find a map with marked areas for controlled and uncontrolled spaces here.

Do I Need a License to Fly Drones at Night?

Even if you register the drone under Part 107, you need waivers for the following activities:

  •   107.145 – Operating Over Moving Vehicles
  •   107.39 – Operating over people
  •   107.25 – Operating from a moving vehicle or aircraft
  •   107.29 – Operating at Night
  •   107.41 – Operating in certain controlled airspace

You can learn more about Part 107 waivers here.

Flying it High – YES OR NO?

You can fly drones registered under the Exception for Recreational Flyers under 400 feel legally as per the recreational drone laws. However, it is important that you have the registration certificate either on paper or a digital copy in case you are inquired about the drone.

You should also label the drone with the registration number in case it gets stuck in a tree, or any authorized person asks about it.

Read the Instruction Manual

The second prerequisite for drone flying is reading the instructions manual. With the wide usage of drones, many companies and models might have different ways of operating.

Although the main functions like yaw, pitch, roll, and throttle are the same, the buttons and joysticks might have different functionalities.

Download “No Fly” Apps

drone app

To understand where the no-fly zones are, you can download the B4UFLY app by the FAA.

So, if you are wondering, “where can I fly my drone?” download the app and get a simple yes or no on where can you fly drones.

Understanding the Drone Controller

drone controller

The fourth prerequisite or step before you learn how to fly a drone is understanding the controller. Unless you are learning how to fly a voice-controlled sky rover drone, you need to understand the controls of the drone.

The user manual can give you an understanding of each function; however, detailed knowledge of the standard controls can be found here:

What is Yaw?

Yaw is usually controlled by the left stick on the controller. This control is for rotating the drone to the left or the right.

It is used for changing the direction of the drone, and it does it by changing the direction of the propellers. Therefore, yaw might be confusing for beginners who don’t know how to fly a drone.

What is Pitch?

The right stick usually controls the drone’s pitch on the controller. It helps in tilting the drone to maneuver it forward or backward.

If the pitch stick is pulled to the back, the front of the drone will “pitch”, which will cause the drone to fly backward.

Understanding Roll

The right stick also controls roll. So if you are pushing the stick to the right and left, you are controlling its roll.

Like its name, it literally rolls the drone. For example, if you push the stick to the left, the drone will get angled downwards on the left side.

Throttle

The throttle is controlled by the left stick and adjusts the height and altitude of the drone. Pushing the stick forward will get the drone to fly higher, and pulling it backward reduces the altitude of the drone.

Important Note

One important thing to keep in mind is that when the drone is flying towards you instead of away from you, the controls are reversed for all except the throttle.

This means that if you want to pitch the drone to the fly forward, you will pull the stick forward instead of backward.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Flying a Drone as a Beginner

drone manual

Now that you have understood and worked on the prerequisites on how to fly a drone, you can get on to flying the drone.

1.    Secure an Open Area for Practice

First and foremost, you must choose a place where the chances of hitting a person or personal property are low. Then, for example, you can learn how to fly a drone in a national park with open space.

2.    Position the Drone

It is essential that you position the drone a little farther from yourself and give it ample space to gain altitude and for you to get used to controls.

Even intermediate flyers need some space to propel the drone and “become the drone” before flying it smoothly. For those who are learning how to fly a drone, this is a must.

3.    Connect the Transmitter to the Drone

Once you have positioned the drone, get ready to connect the controls to it. You need to do this by connecting the transmitter to the drone, which conveys the commands from your controller to the drone via radio signals.

4.    Practice Takeoff and Landing

Before you actually get on to learning how to fly a drone, you need to accustom yourself to the basics. The first level is practicing the takeoff and the landing through the throttle function.

Just as you practice driving a manual car with an understanding of the clutch and accelerator working together, you need to learn how to practice the basics before you get it to move forward.

5.    Practice Hovering

Functions like yaw and pitch can be quite confusing for beginners learning how to fly a drone. Therefore, after you accustom yourself to the most straightforward function, the throttle, get onto understanding yaw and pitch.

Get your drone to hover and understand how the yaw and pitch functions are working before you get onto rotating the drone in the next step.

6.    Practice Rotating

The roll function controls rotating, and you need to practice it in an open space to make sure you don’t damage anyone, anything, or your drone.

7.    Practice These Beginner Drone Techniques

Once you know what each function does and do it yourself, you need a lot of practice to smooth your drone flying techniques.

Once you practice, you will gradually perfect the techniques on how to fly a drone.

How to Take Care of Your Drone

guy fixing a drone

Whilst you learn how to fly a drone, you also need to know how to maintain your drone so it does not cause any issues while operating.

Some of the tips to take care of your drone are:

  1.   Buy a suitable bag pack for your drone to ensure your drone stays safe in transportation or storage.
  2.   Taking care of the batteries is very important. Make sure you remove the batteries from the drone when it is not in use.
  3.   Avoid using a damaged battery on the drone, permanently damaging the battery slot.
  4.   Do not drain your batteries to 0%, and make sure you fly with a fully charged battery and stop flying when the battery level touches 15%.
  5.   Keep the motors and the propellers clean. After a flight, dust off the debris and sand from the motor and the propellers, so its condition does not deplete.

Summary

Learning how to fly a drone can be an exciting process. However, just as learning a skill like driving a car, playing the piano, or learning a new language, your first drone flight can be very challenging.

However, this article has all the tips and steps on how to fly a drone for beginners. From the prerequisites of drone flying to getting prepared for your first flight, this article covers it all.

So, best of luck with your first (smooth) drone flight!