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Tips on Flying a Drone

Updated on April 22, 2015
Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannie has been writing online for over 8 years. She covers a wide variety of topics—anything from hamsters to office work.

The Drones Are Coming!

If you've turned on the news lately, surely you have heard all the commotion about drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles. Drones are now relatively inexpensive and just about anyone can afford them. So how can you use a drone? Well, the government is afraid you are going to use a drone for spying. How are people really using drones? A majority of people I know with drones are simply using them to fly around their neighborhood, take photos, create videos, freak out their pets, etc. If you are one of the many people that would like to have a drone, I have some flying tips for you.

The first thing you should know when getting a drone, is there is a tremendous range in prices. You can find a drone that is anywhere from $40 to thousands of dollars. If you are going to do some serious photography with your drone, you will probably want to invest in one that is at least $600. If you are new to operating a drone or any remote control vehicle, do yourself and everyone around you a favor... get one that costs under a hundred dollars. That way, you won't shed too many tears if you are a terrible flyer and a drone disaster occurs. You can graduate to a more expensive drone once you become a skilled flyer.


Drone Flight Quality

Depending on how much you've invested in your drone, you will find a drastic difference in quality. If you are recording videos and taking photos, the photo quality of a less expensive drone is going to be a bit grainy. Also, smaller, less expensive drones are typically not as stable when flying, so the video will be shakier than what you see with more expensive drones.

When you are flying a less expensive drone, I would recommend staying in your own yard for your first flights. Of course, if you live in an apartment or dorm, you may want to go to a public park on a day when there are not that many people there. When flying a drone, people seem to come out of the woodwork. Some of the more popular questions you will hear are going to be:

"Is that a drone?"

"What is that? It sounds like a bee."

"Are you spying on me?"

"How much did it cost?"

"Can I try?"

I would personally not recommend handing the controls over to just anybody. Your first flights are not going to be easy. It takes a little getting used to operating the controls and every drone is different. You need to get comfortable with your drone. Practice makes perfect, so try to fly in an open space if at all possible. Stay close to the ground, away from trees, and away from power lines. As you get used to it, you can venture further away. Eventually, you may get good enough to fly it indoors if the drone is small.


Wind + Drone = Disaster

I realize if you are a photographer and planned in advance a particular day when you must fly your drone, not flying on a windy day may not be the most practical plan. You may have to try to fly your drone no matter what the weather is like. However, if you absolutely don't have to fly on a windy day, postpone your flight.

Not only is your drone more likely to go in an unintended direction when it is windy, the quality of the video is not going to be great. Depending on how high you fly the drone, the video could be really jumpy. If you must fly when it is windy, keep it as low to the ground as possible. The higher you fly, the harder the wind current.

Long Hair + Drone = Disaster for Drone & Person with Hair

I learned this one the hard way. Drones are dangerous! They might seem so small and harmless, but the propellers are moving very fast. If you try to catch one with your hands while the propellers are running, it is basically the same as shoving your hands in a running fan. Don't do it!

Also, if you have long hair, don't try to land the drone on your head. If your friend has long hair, it is not funny at all to fly the drone into her head. It is painful for all involved. Not only does one's hair get completely tangled in the drone, the propellers can often break in the process of untangling the victim. On a side note, when buying your drone, you may as well buy spare propellers right then. Even if you don't have a hair incident, they do tend to break or get lost if the drone happens to crash.

DJI Phantom 2 Quadcopter (White)
DJI Phantom 2 Quadcopter (White)

This drone is for someone that is a bit more advanced and looking for excellent picture quality. The drone automatically avoids no-fly zones. It is also reasonably sturdy and a much more stable flyer than less expensive drones. Just like the less expensive drone featured on the left, this drone also has parts that can be purchased separate from the drone. I would highly recommend purchasing additional items in case it does suffer from a crash.

Hubsan X4 (H107C) 4 Channel 2.4GHz RC Quad Copter with Camera - Red/Black, Red/Black (Discontinued by manufacturer)
Hubsan X4 (H107C) 4 Channel 2.4GHz RC Quad Copter with Camera - Red/Black, Red/Black (Discontinued by manufacturer)

This is an excellent beginner's drone. It is relatively inexpensive and reasonably easy to fly. You can purchase spare parts for it in case it has an accidents. It also takes decent photos for a lower-priced drone. Be warned, it is much smaller than many other drones and the battery does not last that long.


Avoid No Fly Zones

Before you decide to take your drone out for flying, it is best to learn the no-fly zones in your area. A simple Google search for "no fly drone map" will pull up many helpful websites that will help you keep your drone activity legal in your area. Of course, it is obvious to stay away from military bases and airports, but you may be surprised to learn there are other areas to avoid, too.

Avoid Angry Neighbors

Some people are super-paranoid, so keep in mind not everyone is going to be happy to see your drone. In all honesty, there is a lot one can do with a drone that may not be so cool. With the more expensive models, there is no need for you to be close to the drone. You can easily operate the drone while watching where it is on a tablet or iPhone.

All of this means places that cameras could not access before are now easy to get to with a drone. Although this means a lot of great things, like checking the roof for damages without getting on a pesky ladder, it also means you can easily invade the privacy of others. Keep that in mind before flying into a neighbor's yard without permission. Just because you can physically fly your drone into an area does not mean you are not trespassing. I've heard stories of angry folks shooting at drones or knocking them down with long sticks, so please be careful.


Drone On!

If you keep all of these factors in mind, you should have no problem flying a drone. My main tip for anyone considering getting a drone is keep it simple at first. Buying a smaller drone to begin your flying experience is best. Make sure to practice in wide open spaces. Be careful not to upset anyone by flying in a no-fly zone or private property without permission. Keep it away from people and pets by at least a few feet. You may find that pets are not fans of drones; remember to keep your resentful pet away from the drone even if it is not in flight. A chewed up drone is a non-functioning drone!

Have fun and good luck!

Copyright ©2015 Jeannieinabottle


Submit a Comment
  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    4 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    I am not sure a drone would be great with helping a person drive a car. It takes a lot of concentration to direct the drone and then view where it is going on a tablet. However, a passenger could certainly use the drone to fly it ahead of the car in some situations, like seeing if there are traffic issues ahead. Also, some of the more expensive drones are able to use GPS to "track" the person flying it, so that could work while traveling by car, too.

    As far as clubs go, there are clubs popping up in many areas. Some clubs are for amateurs wanting to learn more, but other clubs are for more skilled flyers that want to have races with other drone owners. Also, I recently heard about drone flying classes offered in my area, so I suppose there are many opportunities for those new to flying drones.

  • B. Leekley profile image

    Brian Leekley 

    4 years ago from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA

    Can a drone accompany a car and be used to scout ahead, look around corners, or see how much backing up space there is?

    Are there drone clubs in which experienced members tutor inexperienced members and one or more drone is jointly owned?

  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    4 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    bravewarrior, I recently moved into this neighborhood, but my fiance has lived here for years. Most of the neighbors know him (and know he likes to have electronic toys), so no one has said anything against it yet. Instead, people are coming outside to investigate and ask a lot of questions. I had a hard time finding a video with just us in it... no neighbors asking questions. Hehe. Thanks for your comment!

    FlourishAnyway, it really is amazing just how high it can fly, so yes, I understand the paranoia. It can get into all sorts of areas no one could get into before, which is good in some ways, but bad in others. Thank you for your comment!

  • FlourishAnyway profile image


    4 years ago from USA

    What a cool toy. I can imagine how paranoid people really have something to fear now.

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 

    4 years ago from Central Florida

    It looks like you're having fun with your drone. I never really knew much about them until this hub. That is, aside from the ones the military uses.

    Your neighborhood looks pretty well-populated. Are you neighbors paranoid about you flying your new toy?


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