The 3 most important things you can do to ensure a successful first-time piloting experience is to:
have SITUATIONAL AWARENESS,
Understand that you are affecting the environment around you when flying your UAS, and be open to tips from others with more flight experience. We are here to help shorten the learning process, and make things easier for you. These basic principles, and checklists should be used to ensure your safety and that of others, along with the longevity of your equipment. When these checklists are coupled with our piloting tips, your skills will improve dramatically!
Read instructions and educate yourself about the drone you plan to fly. Have a basic understanding of UAS safety guidelines.
It’s important to educate yourself about the drone to avoid operator errors. Read informative articles and watch videos on Youtube; see what others have experienced with that same drone. Open-box videos by distributors and unbiased customers are invaluable, and will only require a few minutes. Spending extra time upfront will definitely improve your UAS experience.
You should be excited to get up in the air! At the same token, flying won’t seem as fun when you are picking up the pieces of your new aircraft because you didn’t calibrate the compass, or perhaps flipped the wrong switch.
2. SITUATIONAL AWARENESS
Be aware of your surroundings and copter before you fly.
Observe the flight area for any hazards or obstructions, such as items that may become dislodged and break, or objects that could tangle the propellers. Check for small problems with the drone, such as chipped propellers or uncharged batteries. The ability to notice small details, while at the same time considering the overall environment in which you are flying is a skill that improves with practice.
QUICK START PRE-FLIGHT Checklist:
- Flight Area is clear of people, buildings, obstructions, and no-fly zones.
- Copter and transmitter batteries are fully charged.
- Transmitter is properly connected to copter.
Usually, connectivity is expressed through some LED light sequence, which will be found in the instructions of your drone.
- Know your inputs!
At the most basic level, you should know what each control stick does and how the copter will respond to your inputs. If operating by smart handheld device, then educate yourself on those inputs as well.
SIDE NOTE: The propellers should all be properly attached as shown in the manufacturers instructions. Even if placed on the drone by the manufacturer, you should know that the propellers are counter-rotating, meaning 1/2 are spinning clockwise and 1/2 counterclockwise. Coloration of props does not consistently signify their intended rotation, so it’s good to be aware of this since you may be replacing these at some point.
Now you are ready to become a pilot!
- PRACTICE LOCATION: First, go to an area with hard surface, that is clear of fragile possessions, such as a garage or basement. Flying in an enclosed environment will limit you from flying out of sight or to the point of losing transmission to the drone from the remote controller. Do not go outside with very small UAS, because it is better to have minimal environmental interference in the beginning stages of practice. You might accidentally fly into nearby objects during these first few flights as you learn to orient yourself, so these are important considerations as you pick an area in which to practice.
- PRACTICE AUDIENCE: Warn others when you are about to fly before arming motors, directing them to stay out of the flight area. When flying, it's important to have your attention on the copter, rather than answering questions, so if your audience gets chatty, suggest having a discussion after your flight.
Below is a list of helpful control vocabulary words that you will encounter as a pilot.
To keep it simple, we will assume that the left stick controls yaw and throttle, and that the right stick controls roll and pitch. Some transmitters allow the pilot to switch these controls based on what’s most comfortable for them.
Yaw: Done by pushing the left stick to the left or to the right. This input rotates the UAS left or right on the horizontal plane.
Throttle: Engaged by pushing the left stick forward. Disengaged by pulling the left stick backward. This adjusts the altitude, or height, of the aircraft.
Roll: Done by pushing the right stick to the left or right. Literally rolls the aircraft, which maneuvers the UAS left or right.
Pitch: Done by pushing the right stick forwards or backwards. Tilts the aircraft, which maneuvers the UAS forward or backward.
Trim: Buttons on the remote control that help you adjust roll, pitch, yaw, and throttle if they are off balance.
INTRODUCTORY FLYING TIPS:
- START by setting the drone on the ground in with the front (nose) pointed away from you (in the same direction as your gaze).
This will make flying more intuitive in this beginning stage, since left is left, right is right and so on.
- ARM THE MOTORS, and give enough throttle to get it about a foot off the ground.
Start low to the ground during your initial flights, even if it seems tempting to fly eye level or higher. Always correct the direction of the NOSE of the copter to be "nose out". Beginning your practice in this way will help you understand how to better maintain your airborne orientation and increase your confidence.
The first goal is just to hover in one general spot. The ease of this will vary with reflexes, but will certainly improve with some practice. Use the throttle to help adjust the height of your UAS.
Go from hover to a square pattern, flying to each corner of the floor. Repeat this in both directions, hovering as best as you can at each corner. To increase the challenge, start to do the same pattern a little higher, and then again a little higher, until you get to eye level. Once you get to this point, you should have your first 20 to 30 minutes of flying. Congratulations!
Practice the same series of flight exercises above, with the nose pointed at a 90 degree angle on the horizontal plane. Then, practice with the nose pointing directly towards yourself.
SIDE NOTE: If the aircraft seems to pull hard to one direction out of the box, or otherwise flies erratically, verify there is nothing stuck in the propeller, and consider that you may have to use the "trim tabs" to tune the drone (instructions tend to show diagrams on how this works; it is quite simple, but can vary by manufacturer).
After following these practice tips, you will start getting the hang of it in no time! Soon, you may be capturing fantastic footage of your experience! Keep practicing, and challenge yourself to fly in different orientations and around various obstacles.
REMEMBER THAT SAFETY ALWAYS COMES FIRST!
We will soon be posting tips on maintenance, and are currently working on a comprehensive e-book that you will be eligible to receive by subscribing below.
SEE YOU AGAIN SOON...
THROUGH THE BIRDS EYE!
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