Drones are currently one of the hottest gadgets around.
Some people have even turned drone flying into a lucrative career.
Professional photographers and videographers use these cool gadgets to capture exceptional aerial images.
Meanwhile, others invest in drones for recreational purposes.
So if you’re thinking about getting a drone of your own for commercial or recreational use, then you’ll need to first learn how to fly a drone.
Flying a drone may look easy but there’s definitely a learning curve.
In this guide, you will learn to fly a drone following just a few basic steps.
- Understanding your drone controller
- How to fly a drone?
- Important tips for piloting your drone
- Important things to remember before flying your drone
- Frequently Asked Questions
Understanding your drone controller
If you’re wondering how to fly quadcopters, you need to first understand the drone controller.
Most drones are controlled using a remote controller or transmitter.
This control device usually looks like a gaming or toy remote controller.
They feature buttons and joysticks that serve different functions.
More advanced models can be overwhelming and may take some time for you to get used to their full functionality.
However, regardless of how complex your drone is, you’ll have to use the left and right sticks with your thumb.
You can push or pull the sticks to make the drone go up, down, left or right and in some instances, diagonally.
Most controllers come with the same selection of features and functions.
The 4 main functions and important aspects of the controller are:
Left Stick: Yaw and Throttle
The left stick on your controller controls the yaw and throttle.
Yaw refers to the rotation of the drone.
This is the clockwise or counterclockwise rotation of the drone.
When you push the left stick along the x-axis(left and right), it triggers the drone’s rotation clockwise or counterclockwise.
Yaw can help you position the drone to face other directions without making the drone leave its current spot.
Throttle helps with how fast or slow the drone flies.
It adjusts the amount of power to the drone’s motor which results in faster or slower flight speeds.
When you push the left stick on the y-axis(up and down), the drone’s altitude changes accordingly.
You may have to use the throttle in conjunction with the right stick functions so you need to get very comfortable with the throttle function.
Right Stick: Roll and Pitch
The right stick on the remote controller is used to control the movement of the drone along the x-axis.
The Roll is the side to side movement and the Pitch is the forward and backward movement.
Roll deals with the left or right movement of your drone.
When you push the right stick along the x-axis(left and right) your drone flies and “rolls” along the left or right sides.
This function is great for avoiding obstacles without changing the altitude or position of the drone on the y-axis.
Pitch deals with the tilt of your drone.
This means the forward and backward movements.
Pushing the right stick along the y-axis( up and down), the drone moves forward or backward.
While it seems pretty easy, using pitch with throttle and with the drone facing you can make it challenging.
This is why you need to practice.
How to fly a drone?
How to fly a drone for beginners?
Once you’re familiar with your drone and its controller, you can proceed to fly the drone.
Here is a step-by-step guide you can follow to have a safe, fun and incident-free drone flying experience.
1. Find a wide open area
Chances are that you already have an idea where you’ll be flying your drone once you get it.
If not, then you need to start thinking about where you are going to be flying your drone.
Identify a wide-open space that is safe and free from obstacles.
This is because you don’t want your brand new drone to crash into a tree, wall or people.
However, make sure that the place you identify allows for the usage of drones so that you don’t break any laws.
2. Position the drone
When we say to position the drone, we mean to find a good takeoff spot.
Follow the instructions in the manual provided by the manufacturer.
In most cases, it will say to place the drone in front of you on a flat surface making sure both you and the drone are facing the same direction.
Remember to keep doing it this way until you’ve gained enough experience in flying your drone.
3. Connect the drone to the transmitter
Another thing you’ll have to do before takeoff is sequencing.
This will require some practice.
Before you switch on the transmitter, push the throttle all the way down.
Switch the transmitter on and connect the drone’s battery.
This sequence is super important to be sure to do this before taking off and after landing.
Once you land, you can follow the sequence in reverse.
That is by removing the drone’s battery and switching off the transmitter.
4. Practice takeoff and landing the drone
Once you’ve completed the steps above, you can push the throttle or the left stick upwards and the drone will take off.
Keep the drone in place without moving forward or to the sides using the Roll and Pitch functions on the right stick.
After the drone is a few feet off the ground, practice landing it as smoothly as you can.
Keep the drone steady and push the left stick down until the drone is safely on the ground.
5. Try hovering
After you practice takeoff and landing, you can move on to hovering.
Liftoff following the instructions in step 4 a few feet off the ground and hold the drone steady.
This can prove to be hard on the first go but try to keep the drone as steady as you can.
Practice will help you to improve.
Takeoff, balance and landing are the basic maneuvers you need to know.
Mastering these will help make it easier to execute more complicated flying techniques.
6. Practice rotating
Another maneuver you’ll need to master is the rotation of the drone using the left stick’s Yaw control.
Launch the drone and hover.
Next, slowly push the left stick to the right or left until the drone rotates and is facing you.
This can be hard to do on your first try but the trick is to pay close attention to the drone’s orientation.
Keep a close eye on where the front and back of the drone are.
Another tip is to create a mental image of you being inside the drone and flying it.
This is how most experienced drone pilots stay on course regardless of how much the drone spins and turns.
If you don’t get it after 5 or 6 attempts, don’t get frustrated.
Flying a drone and mastering all the maneuvers takes time and practice.
7. Time to fly the drone
Once you’re familiar with the basic controls and mastered the basic maneuvers, then it is time to combine your knowledge and experience into a single session.
During this session, you’ll be able to use the right stick to move the drone.
Here are a few sample controls and movements you can try in your session:
- You can travel in parallel paths. Do this by moving the drone backward and forward with the Pitch control on the right stick and left and right using the Roll control in the right stick as well.
- You can use the drone to draw a square using the Pitch and Roll controls on the right stick.
- Try flying in a parallel path with the drone facing the direction of the flight. Move the drone forward using the pitch control on the right stick, stop and rotate the drone 180 degrees until it is facing you. Move the drone forward once again until it’s back to its original position.
- Draw a circle by using the Yaw control on the left stick and the Pitch control on the right stick.
These are just a few examples of movements you can try.
There are endless ways you can fly your drone to capture spectacular imagery and footage.
Important tips for piloting your drone
Many people consider drones as toys.
However, these gadgets are not and incorrect use can land you in trouble if you damage property or hurt people and animals.
The key to being a responsible drone pilot is knowing how to control your drone.
1. Get familiar with the controls
As mentioned before, you need to understand your controller.
However, understanding alone isn’t enough.
You need to get familiar with it so that you don’t have to constantly look down on it every few seconds.
Just like a video game controller, you’ll need to get familiar with all the buttons and sticks so you can focus on the drone.
2. Keep the drone close
You may get a little too excited when you start to fly your drone.
However, remember to keep your drone close and within your line of sight.
Do this to make sure you don’t lose communication with the drone.
Some drones are equipped with a Return-to-Home function that automatically brings the drone back to its takeoff location if it goes out of range or loses signal.
Read more drone flying tips by clicking on the link.
Important things to remember before flying your drone
1. Charge your battery
You need a fully charged battery to fly your drone.
Remember to charge the battery before your flight and to always keep it charged.
Use only the battery and charger that came with your drone to avoid any risk of injury to yourself or damage to the drone.
If you do opt for a few extra batteries to extend flight time, make sure they are compatible with your drone.
2. Register your drone
If your drone weighs between 0.55 pounds to 55 pounds, you’ll need to register it with the FAA and mark it with a registration number.
This requirement ensures that you are held accountable if your drone ends up damaging power lines, properties or causing any harm to others.
Registering your drone is easy.
You can read more in this Do I need to register my drone guide.
3. Familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations
To fly your drone within the confines of the law, you need to know the rules and regulations governing drone flying.
Here’s a list of some drone basics you should follow every time you fly your drone.
- Fly your drone under 400 feet
- Keep flight speed at or below 100 mph
- Fly during the day
- Your drone must weigh under 55 pounds
- Yield right of way to manned aircrafts at all times
- Fly your drone within your line of sight at all times
- Fly your drone in accordance to community-based guidelines
- Seek authorization before flying within 5 miles of an airport.
- Do not fly your drone over people
- Do not fly your drone from a moving vehicle
4. Download “No Fly” Apps
There are certain areas where you are not allowed to fly your drone.
Doing so can have serious drawbacks like being slapped with a fine, etc.
These areas are referred to as “No Fly” zones.
To identify these restricted areas, you can download a “No Fly” app on your smartphone or tablet.
Below is a list of some of the most common:
- UAV forecast
Check out more in our drone no fly zone map for more.
5. Read your drone’s instruction manual
Remember to read the instruction manual for your drone provided by the manufacturer.
This document includes all the information you need to know about the physical parts of the drone, its flight feature and other relevant information to avoid issues later on.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are drones hard to fly
Flying a drone isn’t that difficult.
However, it does take practice.
Some drones are easier to fly than others so try to get a beginner-friendly drone when you first start flying.
You can also seek the help of experienced drone pilots who can show you the ropes.
Remember to just start off simple.
Practice taking off, balancing and landing the drone before doing anything else.
After a few tries, you’ll be able to master these and can move on to actually flying your drone.
Once you’ve got it all down, you can upgrade to a more advanced drone.
Can I fly my drone indoors?
You can fly your drone indoors but be very careful.
GPS drones may struggle with a spotty connection.
Small drones are better for an indoor flight so if your drone is of a certain size then it is not recommended you fly indoors.
Can I fly my drone from inside to outside?
Most drones will struggle to transition from indoor to outdoor flight.
A GPS drone may go from a disconnected state to a connected one.
This can result in erratic flight that can cause your drone to fly into obstacles.
This is because many drones use visual sensors for navigation and obstacle avoidance.
When the sensors register the sudden change from a dark environment with artificial lighting to natural lighting due to sunlight outside, they take some time to register the change.
In that time, your drone’s obstacle avoidance feature does not function properly which can result in crashes.
Flying a drone may look easy but it requires some practice.
Go slow and in due time you will be soaring the skies taking stunning photos and videos, performing tricks or even racing.
Just remember to follow all the rules and regulations when flying your drone and register it if you need to.
If you’re looking for a drone to practice your piloting skills, check out the best quadcopters for beginners.