The Beginner’s Guide to Flying a Drone

19 July 2019

So, you’ve bought a drone, or are thinking about buying one. That’s awesome! Drones are great for exploring new places, expanding your creativity and getting a whole new perspective on the world. 

But where do you start?

Taking your precious new drone for its first spin can be a little nerve wracking - that’s why we’re here to help! From basic drone flying functions to flying and landing tips, the drone experts here at Ted’s Cameras have created a useful checklist to help you prepare for your first drone flight and learn the essentials all drone users should know.

A beginner’s checklist for your first drone flight:

Know the drone flying rules and regulations

There are local laws when it comes to drone flying, as well as common sense issues that you should consider. These cover where and when you can fly in order to respect the safety and privacy of others around you. 

It’s important to learn the drone laws in Australia, as well as drone privacy laws if you’re planning to fly a drone with a camera. Drone safety rules vary depending on whether you are flying commercially or for fun (recreationally), and whether there are any local council and/or national park laws prohibiting drone flights in certain areas.Check out this handy government page from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to see what rules apply to you.

The Beginner’s Guide to Flying a DroneThe Beginner’s Guide to Flying a Drone

Keep calm & read the manual first

When you have shiny new gear just waiting to be tested, it’s easy to jump straight to the action without even glancing at the manual. With your drone, you will need to be a little more careful - so read your manual from front to back before you take to the sky. You really don’t want to be stuck wondering what a certain control does while your drone is in the air.

Make your maiden flight in a safe space

For your first drone flight, it’s wise not to head straight over a body of water, or go weaving through heavily forested areas. Your drone may have some nifty obstacle avoidance tools but you don’t want to be testing the limits while you are still inexperienced.

If you’re looking for a drone that can keep itself out of trouble, something like the DJI Mavic Air Drone is a good option, with FlightAutonomy 2.0 to help detect and avoid obstacles.

The Beginner’s Guide to Flying a DroneThe Beginner’s Guide to Flying a Drone

Have your gear at the ready

Make sure your batteries are fully charged and drone propellers are correctly installed. This is an important step to avoiding unnecessary damage.

Getting your hands on a Boost Kit is a smart way to ensure you can keep flying till your heart’s content with extra batteries and propeller guards.

Go slow & steady

Slow speeds generally lead to better footage anyway but when you are starting out you should avoid testing out your drone’s top flight speed.

This DJI Tello Drone is an easy and enjoyable way for you to explore and develop your drone-flying skills. Intuitive controls, auto takeoff and landing make the more difficult aspects of flying easy to control - plus it’s smart enough to make a safe landing even if you momentarily lose connection.

Take a test run on a flight simulator

Certain drone apps have drone flight simulators that you can use to get a feel for the controls. This handy step ensures that the whole drone flying thing isn’t completely unknown to you when heading out in the field.

Some basic functions, flight modes and flying tips:

The Beginner’s Guide to Flying a DroneThe Beginner’s Guide to Flying a Drone

Okay, you’re nearly ready to go! 

Here are a few key flying functions and tips to get your drone up, up, and away. 

Basic drone flying functions:

  • Throttle -This control gives power to your propellers. You need to have the throttle engaged to get your drone off the ground.
  • Yaw - Rotates your drone clockwise and counterclockwise.
  • Pitch - Moves your drone forwards or backwards.
  • Roll - Moves your drone left and right.

Drone flying tips:

Practice takeoffs and landings

This will be the most crucial part of your drone flying experience, and should be the first on your list of things to master. To start your takeoff, gently engage the throttle and compensate for any leanings your drone has by adjusting the pitch and roll.

Landing your drone is done by gently pulling the throttle down in a controlled manner. Once the drone is on the ground, pull the throttle all the way down until your drone rotors are no longer active.

Learn to hover 

Learning to hover is actually quite tricky and it can take some time to get the hang of. Nevertheless, this should be attended to early on in your flight training, and when mastered, this means you have good control of your drone.

The Beginner’s Guide to Flying a DroneThe Beginner’s Guide to Flying a Drone

The throttle will need to be engaged to get your drone in the air, you will then make minute adjustments to your drone’s pitch and roll to keep it in a stable hovering position.

Moving your drone forward and back

Now that you have some experience getting your drone up in the air, you can attempt to cover some more space.

Start by making small flights of a few meters in one direction and then take it back to its starting position. As you do this, you may notice your drone leaning too much in a certain direction or losing altitude, this should be attended to by adjusting the yaw or increasing the power to your drone’s rotor via the throttle.

Attempt simple flight patterns

Once you’re confident with the controls of your drone and can move it around in the air, you can attempt to branch out a little and fly your drone in a simple pattern, such as a small square. After you have completed a square you can attempt to fly your drone in a circle. Done it? You’ve now acquired the skill of adjusting multiple flight controls simultaneously - nice one!

Utilise pre-programmed flight patterns

Your drone probably has plenty of these built-in and they can really help you to achieve beautiful cinematic drone videos. We suggest you learn how to fully control your drone first, but once this is done, utilise the powerful technology that manufacturers have made available to you! The DJI Mavic Pro and DJI GO app provide a wide range of pre-programmed actions and intelligent flight modes.

The Beginner’s Guide to Flying a DroneThe Beginner’s Guide to Flying a Drone

Time to enjoy new heights of fun

And that’s it! If you’ve checked everything off this list, you should feel confident in your ability to fly a drone - so get out there and enjoy the fun! 

Don’t own a drone yet? No worries! If you need help choosing your first drone, check out our guide to The Best Drones or get in touch with the expert team at Ted’s Cameras today for more handy tips.

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