Know the Rules and RegulationsBefore flying your new drone, you need to ensure you know the rules and regulations and make sure you follow them. Drones are overseen by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) a statutory corporation of the Department for Transport. You must follow the below rules and regulations on every flight:
- Always fly the drone within your visual line of sight
- Never fly over 400ft (121m) and stay within 1640ft (500m)
- Don’t fly closer than 150ft (50m) to a person, vehicle, vessel or structure that’s not under the control of the pilot and stay 500ft (150m) away from built up and congested areas
- Don’t fly near aircraft, airports or airfields
- Flights must not be reckless or negligent
- Only fly when reasonably satisfied you can do safely
- Don’t takeoff or land within 100ft (30m) of a person
- Never cause or permit an article to fall from your aircraft
- Only fly in permitted UK airspace
- Do not takeoff or land on private land without the landowner’s permission
- Follow all bylaws and land permissions – if you're unsure, check any available websites or give them a call
Read the ManualThis one applies everyone who gets a new drone, even if you have hours of flight time with another model. Yes, it’s not the most appealing thing to do, but it has to be done. Just wait until everyone falls asleep after their Christmas dinner and spend some time giving it a thorough read over. The manual is packed full of useful information that you need to know during flight. From basic flight manoeuvres and aircraft control to more in-depth information like battery charging status and return to home functions. We’re not saying that you need to memorise every tiny detail but before you take your aircraft out, but you need to at least read it and take in information on stick control, emergency procedures and what the different LED colours and combinations mean. Manuals for the majority of aircraft are online so you can get a head start if you know you’re getting a drone already. Make sure you understand these controls before you take the aircraft out.
Know the AppAnother area you should learn before taking your drone out is the compatible app. With DJI drones for hobbyists, it’s likely you will use the DJI GO 4 app with your drone. It can be accessed on the majority of modern smartphones and tablets. Download the app and learn what the different controls and symbols are. You will also be able to control aircraft mode such as Beginner, Atti, Sports and Positioning, as well as DJI Intelligent Flight Modes. Additionally, with DJI drones, you also have the option of flying in a flight simulator through the DJI GO 4 app. This is a useful feature for new pilots as it gives you the opportunity to understand the basic controls used for flying your new drone in a completely safe environment. The Heliguy guide to DJI GO 4 app is available here.
Choose a Place to FlyFirst off, unless you have an extremely small drone like a Hubsan, it’s best to avoid flying indoors until you get some experience. The room you’ll have is likely to be too small and you’re liable to experience interference if the building is made of metal etc. You should choose an outdoor clear area where there won’t be any people or obstacles you can bump into. Try flying in a park or at a beach, away from trees, power lines and anything that could cause interference to your drone’s signals. Make sure you check to make sure you’re able to fly in your desired location as discussed above. Choosing your starting flight location is key to avoiding drone crashes on your first few flights so make sure you pick the right location.
Learn how to FlyFlying a drone is pretty simple when you get the hang of it but until you master the controls you need to be careful. On your first few flights, learn the basics like drone takeoffs, landings and how to hover. Keep your flights short and build up to longer and more advanced flights. Flying skill will come to you in time, so be patient, and learn the basics. Also, if it’s an available option, learn to fly in beginner mode as your drone will help you with obstacle avoidance etc. However, remember not to rely on these features as they can miss things. When you get the hang of beginner mode, learn how to fly in all the other available modes. Remember to always stay within your own limits as a pilot. You don’t want to destroy your brand-new drone with a stupid mistake you could have prevented by simply practising.
Create a Pre-Flight ChecklistA pre-flight checklist is essentially a checklist of everything you need to do before your flight to make sure you and your drone are airworthy. It can be broken down into three stages; before the day of your flight, immediately before the flight and during takeoff. Before the day of flight – In this section, you need to include all of the basic things you need to do prior to your flight. You should include factors such as checking your drone and accessories are up to date (this will especially need to be done on your first flight). Other factors like checking the weather, checking your batteries are charged and many others should be included. Immediately before flight – You should include all checks just before you turn on your aircraft. Checks such as setting a home point, calibrating your IMU and compass, checking your satellite strength. On takeoff – These checks are to be done as you takeoff the aircraft. Include factors such as turning on the remote controller before the aircraft, checking all the controls are responsive and monitoring your aircraft at a height such as 15ft before flying any higher. Your pre-flight checklist should be designed to keep you, any bystanders and your aircraft safe during every flight, but also ensure you don’t get to your flying location to realise you’ve left your SD card or batteries at home. For the complete Heliguy pre-flight checklist, head to our previous blog post here.
Stay Up to DateThe drone industry is still a relatively nascent sector and as such, is constantly changing and developing. In particular, the drone regulations in the UK are currently in the process of being updated with a release of a new Drone Bill expected in Spring 2018. Because of these changes and updates, it’s worth following websites like the Heliguy Insider so you receive updates on these changes. Subscribe for email updates and keep an eye out as the changes will likely affect you. You could also look for a local or online drone or UAV community to join for additional support.
SummaryHere at Heliguy, we completely understand how exciting it is to open up your first drone as get it in the air as soon as possible. But following the above steps will help you get the most out of your drone and hopefully avoid crashing before you even start. Remember, a drone isn’t like most electronic products. If you get it wrong, it can be dangerous to you and others, as well as being costly. Make sure you follow the suggested steps and learn about your drone before taking it out. But also remember to enjoy the experience and make the most out of it.
You May find These UsefulFor those of you who are new to flying or the Heliguy Insider blog, the below might be useful to help with your drone flying and care.
- DJI Intelligent Flight Modes
- Drone Battery Maintenance
- A Guide to Drone Photography
- Heliguy Recommendations to Avoid Drone Crashes
- Heliguy Recommendations to Avoid User Error Flyaways
To discuss anything from the above post or any DJI or Freefly product, please give one of our team a call on 0191 296 1024 or email us at email@example.com.
Keep checking back to Heliguy’s Insider Blog for more announcements, insights into drones and, of course, the latest news from the drone industry.