Learning To Fly

A couple of months ago I picked up one of those DJI Phantom 2 Quadcopters that you have heard about in the news recently.  The “media” likes to refer to them as drones, so they have a much more exciting & negative association.  The media would have you believe that these things will be buzzing outside your window, snooping in on every conversation you are having, and threatening world humanity as we know it.  In reality, it couldn’t be farther from the truth.  These machines are just plain FUN toys.  If you attach a decent GoPro camera, have a small bit of patience(acceptance of failing at first), you can capture some of the coolest video footage that would otherwise cost you the price of whatever it takes to rent a helicopter.

Here is a quick snippet of some footage I captured recently just testing some things out.

A couple of things that I have learned so far:

  1. Practice Practice Practice!  Don’t think that you will be flying around  buildings and other objects right off the bat.  Find an open field and practice there for at least a month.  Otherwise, you will either crash your quadcopter, or you will hurt somebody else. 
  2. Don’t try so hard to fly low around cool trees, etc.  You’ll just crash.  Fly high, above the trees, there’s plenty of room above the trees.
  3. Understand that most of your crashes are self-induced.  No need to bash the manufacturer. Just admit that you suck at flying at first and practice getting better.
  4. Landing:  Don’t worry about landing. Just let the drone( I mean quad) hover at about eye level, and just grab it by the landing skids, and throttle down.  Landing is just an opportunity to crash or drive the props into the ground.
  5. Take-off:  Take off from a grassy surface or field, if at all possible.  If you lose the signal and you fail back to the fly-home feature, I would rather the quad fly back and land in a field, rather than a parking lot.  Just another opportunity to crash.
  6. Don’t fly over people. I know, you can probably capture cool video at an event, but just imagine if things go wrong. 
  7. Fly early in the morning.  The light is better for video at this time of day.  There are less people out and about (see #6).  In my area, wind is usually minimized as well.  This is a great time to practice.
  8. Update your firmware on your Quad.  DJI is often fixing things in software.  So if you are noticing problems with the way your Quad flies, it can likely be fixed with a firmware upgrade, or you just suck at flying(See #3)….and Practice.
  9. Re-calibrate from time to time.  When you take off, try to hover about 20 feet in the air.  If your Quad cannot hold this position, and starts drifting off while in GPS mode, you should try re-calibrating using the DJI software.  Else, when DJI says you may experience unpredictable flights, just know that this means you will crash into something.
  10. Have Fun! By all means.  Just get out there and have fun practicing.

Thanks for Reading!

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