This is what you need to do before you fly your drone. So you’ve just picked up a new drone with some extra cash or received one as a gift. Unlike many gifts and hobby purchases there are many important steps you need to take before you fly your new drone.
There are rules and regulations that you need to know about flying drones as well as important safety tips. Depending on the size and weight of the drone there are specific steps you are required to take before liftoff. In addition to the rules, there are some general tips and advice that you need to know about.
After you unbox your new drone and charge it up, you still need to take some additional action. Here are the things you need to do before you fly your drone;
- Register Your Drone
- Know Your Limits and Regulations
- Read the Manual & Watch Videos
- Download the Right Drone Apps
- Perform a Safety Check
- Practice, Practice Practice
- Meet Local Experts & Hobbyists
The good news is that you don’t need a license to fly your drone, but you will need to follow some rules and if your drone is heavy enough you will need to register it for $5. These rules are for the United States, and will vary based on where you travel outside of the U.S.
1. Register Your Drone
If your drone weighs between 0.55 and 55 pounds you need to register it with the FAA before you can fly. If you fail to do this you face fines. If you buy a toy drone that weighs less than this amount, you don’t need to register it.
You can register your drone online in a few minutes. This costs $5 and you can complete it right before you fly. There is no test for this part of drone registration.
Once you register your drone you need to attach your FAA registration number to the drone. You can put this on the drone, or you can write it on a removable battery and then put it in place. While writing this, we also suggest you attach a phone number to your drone in case you lose it.
2. Know Your Limits and Regulations
There are specific limitations to how you can fly your drone. The FAA makes these very clear and if you want to remain legal you need to keep these in mind and follow the restrictions. The basics are as follows;
- Don’t fly over 400 feet.
- Maintain visual contact with your drone at all times.
- Don’t fly within 5 miles of an airport or heliport without contacting.
- Don’t fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Don’t fly over people or cars.
There are a number of other important rules and safety guidelines. Know Before You Fly offers a comprehensive list including what you need to know about drone photography and safety.
3. Read The Manual & Watch Tutorials
When you are flying a drone that is more than just a toy you need to make sure you know what you are doing before you take off. At the very least you need to understand the features and basic controls, but more than that you need to know what to do if something goes wrong.
4. Download the Right Drone Apps
In addition to the drone app that you need to control the drone and take photos you should download drone apps to make sure you are flying n a safe area.
The official B4UFly app allows you to check if it is safe to fly in that area. It’s a good app, but the AirMap app is an even better option to have installed. It includes more options and is easier to use.
5. Perform a Safety Check
When you are ready to fly your drone, you need to give it a safety check before you take off. This will help you avoid a crash or issues during flight.
6. Practice, Practice Practice
You’ll want to start slow and practice before you start flying fast or going through obstacles. The team at UVify, who is building the “world’s fastest racing drones”, offers the following advice.
“If you’re just looking into getting into drone racing: Start smart and practice, practice, practice The more practice you get, the better you’ll get. Start with a well-made racing drone and practice, practice, practice.
Look for a drone that has modular build because it will help you stay airborne, which is the only way you’ll get better at flying. Chances are your drone will crash often during practice, so invest in a hardy racing drone that can withstand a lot of impact. You will save money in the long run investing in one hardy drone versus buying several cheap ones that quickly end up in landfills.
As you get more familiar with the ins-and-outs of drone racing, then start competing. Again, look for ones with modular builds because it will help you to quickly develop your piloting skills without eating into your bank account or flying time.”
7. Meet People and Learn More
This is a bonus, since you don’t need to do this before you fly. It’s still a great tip for beginners. UVify recommends, finding other people to fly with.
“There are lots of drone racers and people flying in every town. It’s a very popular hobby, and there are lots of people willing to help. See if you can connect through the local hobby store, as they will know what’s going on in town. There are many websites and forums to chat on as well, where you can search for answers, ask questions, or just chat about drone racing in general.”
UVify specifically addresses racing, but you can look for local clubs to find more experienced drone pilots and hobbyists who can help you learn more about your drone and enhance your skills. Don’t worry about going to a meet up as a beginner. You can look for groups on Facebook or check out the Academy of Model Aeronautics to see if there is a local club.