Q: I am interested in getting a drone. Where should I begin?

A: Consider buying a small multi-rotor to practice on.  You can find inexpensive multi-rotors on Amazon or your local hobby shop.  The Ominus Dromida is a tough multi-rotor that can be flown indoors and outdoors. If you want something with a camera, try the Dromida FPV. Get comfortable before trying to fly an expensive model. Another great entry level drone is the Blade Glimpse, by Horizon Hobby. I’ve flown the Glimpse and its very stable. I was also impressed at the qualtiy of the live video feed to my smart phone. Its one of the few high-def FPV drones in the $200 price range. The Syma X5SW also gets good reviews for starter drones.

Q: What is the range of the remote control?

A: It depends on the model. The DJI Phantom products list an estimated range in the owners manual. The Phantom 2 is approximately 700 meters. The Phantom 3 Advanced and Professional versions have an estimated range of 1.2 miles.  The 3DR Solo is about 1/2 mile. The small drones described above have a range of a few hundred feet. These distances can vary depending on obstructions and weather conditions.

Q: How long will the drone fly on a battery charge?

A: The DJI Phantom products can fly about 18-22 min on a charge. This will vary with weather conditions and altitude. Cold weather will reduce battery life resulting in shorter flights.

Q: Where can I fly my drone?

A: This website is a great place to start: Know Before You Fly

There are a growing list of restricted areas that prohibit drones. The most important restrictions your should be aware of is the proximity to airports. The FAA guidelines state you should contact the Air Traffic Control Tower if flying within 5 miles of an airport. Some communities have banned drones from parks while others are “drone friendly”. Suamico Village Parks currently allow drones proved they do not interfere with sporting events and are operated in a safe manner. Private property is fine as long as you have permission from he property owner. If you want to fly in park its best to check with the municipality to make sure there are no restrictions.  You should avoid crowded areas and high profile places like Lambeau Field. Green Bay’s ordinance bans flights over special events. Wisconsin State Law makes it a crime to fly your drone in a place where a person has a “reasonable expectation of privacy.” Hovering in from of someone’s window, at a low altitude over a yard surrounded by a privacy fence are couple of examples.