Advice for new drone owners

Are you one of the millions of people who received a drone for Christmas? Maybe you’ve just decided to buy yourself a drone. Either way, you’ll be tempted to pull it out of the box, charge it up and get flying right away, but wait! There’s some things you need to know first. 

Don’t be misled by ads that make it look too easy.  Its true that
many drones have advanced features that can help you fly but if you’re not careful, you’ll wind up with a busted drone or you may actually lose it. Even worse, you could take off in a no-fly zone, create a hazard to manned aircraft or even hurt someone.  I’m not trying to scare you, flying a drone is a blast. You can create awesome videos or get spectacular photos or just have fun flying around but there’s some important things you need to know before you launch so, here’s a few tips.

Orient yourself with the aircraft

I won’t harp on you about reading the manuals, you already know this. Once you unpack everything, get yourself familiar with the controls. Power it on without propellers first. DJI and other major brand drones include a flight simulator.  Try practicing on the simulator before trying to launch.  Most new pilots crash because they get disoriented. Remember, when the drone is facing you the controls are reversed.  This gets especially confusing for newcomers. Get familiar with the location of important buttons like the “return to home” but also be aware of what they do.  

Wait for suitable weather

Be patient and wait for suitable weather. Learning to fly a drone can be challenging in ideal conditions. Extremely cold weather can make things even more difficult.  The batteries are adversely affected by extremely cold weather and will result in reduced flight time. In fact, DJI batteries will not allow you to take off if the battery temperature is below 59 degrees F.  This doesn’t mean you can’t fly in cold weather but you’ll need to keep your batteries warm until you’re ready to use them.  Cold weather will also affect your coordination, making it difficult to manipulate the controls.

Understand the rules

Read up on the rules before you fly outdoors. One of the best sources of information is here: 

  • Register your drone.  Drones over 8.8 oz must be registered with the FAA.  There is a one time fee of $5.00 for recreational users. Be sure to go directly to the FAA’s website and don’t be fooled by third party services that charge you extra money to register for you.
  • You also have a responsibility to notify airports if you are
    flying within 5 miles

This may sound intimidating at first but once you know the rules you’ll be fine.  If you’re looking for a little help, I’ll be hosting  classes for new drone owners this spring.  This is a 2-hour class which covers the following topics:

  • Fundamentals of drones and unmanned flight
  • Overview of the current technology on the market (Numerous drones will be available for you to see and interact with)
  • Drone rules and regulations

If you are interested in attending my class, check out this link.

If you want to set up a personal session, just send me an email and we’ll discuss the details and get something scheduled.

Thanks and happy flying!

Bill Bongle

About Bill Bongle

Bill Bongle is a 29-year police veteran and technology consultant, rising to the rank of Captain before retiring from the Green Bay Police Department in 2015. In 2015 Bill started Titletown Drones LLC, a company which provides drone related training and equipment. He specializes in assisting public safety agencies establish their drone programs. Bill has developed several drone related training courses including part 107 test prep and flight training. Bill has trained hundreds of commercial drone pilots, police officers, firefighters and government officials across the nation.