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Drone tips for beginners

We have spent countless hours flying and practicing with our drones.  We’ve achieved some amazing shots, but we’ve also had a few close calls.  We really wanted to put together a list of tips for new pilots.  We hope this helps you learn from our mistakes.



  1. Pre-Flight checklist – This is crucial, starting a flight without making sure that everything is ready can lead to disaster.  Especially if you are in a public or semi-crowded area.  There are a lot of things to consider before starting a safe flight, but here are a few aircraft-specific things that we check off before taking flight.
    1. GPS Mode is on – If we are outdoors and have access to a solid GPS signal, we always make sure that GPS is enabled before taking off.  If your drone is equipped with GPS, we highly recommend flying with this engaged.  It will help keep your drone stable, and give you options in case you lose signal or have a failing battery.
    2. Compass is calibrated – Most drones have a compass that helps to keep them oriented.  Be sure that the compass is calibrated properly prior to taking flight.
    3. Gimbal mode is set properly – Our DJI Phantom 3 has a powerful gimbal that provides smooth shots regardless of wind conditions or drone speed.  For nearly every shoot that we do, we want the Gimbal on follow mode, which will keep the camera still even if the drone is bouncing up and down.  If you require your gimbal in another mode that is fine, just make sure prior to take off that the gimbal is going to react the way you would expect it to.
    4. Home position is locked in –  Yes this is something that you can do after takeoff, but it’s best to make sure that your drone knows where it launched from in the very beginning.  If you have an issue right after takeoff, you want to know exactly how your drone is going to react.  If you are going to be flying over water, it is best to launch from shore (if possible) and have your drone set to “Return to home”.  This will force your drone to return to shore in the event that it loses signal with the controller.  The attached video shows some clips of people who failed to set this properly and really paid the price!
  2. Have a flight plan – Knowing where you will be flying will better prepare you in the event that something goes wrong.  Plan your routes carefully, making sure that in the event that you lose signal, your drone will be able to safely return to home without running into any object.
  3. Use common sense – If used improperly, drones can be very intrusive.  Never fly over large crowds, and respect people’s privacy.  Keeping up with the latest drone regulations is a must to make sure that you are always operating your drone within the law.  Don’t be afraid to fly however.  If you are operating your drone responsibly, you should never be given a hard time.  Always make sure you have permission if you are flying over private property or in public parks.  If asked to stop flying, it is usually best to land your drone and then have a rational conversation regarding your rights as a pilot.
  4. Start low and slow – Spend plenty of time flying close to the ground and at slow speeds.  This will give you the opportunity to get comfortable with the controller and to learn the way the drone will react to the sticks.  You may need to personalize the sensitivity of certain controls, and this will give you a chance to do so.  Once you feel comfortable, start attempting bigger and more challenging shots.
  5. Complacency Kills – Getting too comfortable will lead to crashes.  Get into a routine of caution with every flight, regardless of how skilled you become.  Getting too comfortable will mean that you are not prepared when things don’t work the way that you planned.

We will continue to post tips to this blog over time.  Be sure to subscribe to us here, and on YouTube.

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