Drones are the hottest things to hit the skies in years. Young and old pilots are everywhere testing their skills with these amazing and fun quadcopters. From racing events to getting amazing aerial photographs and video, the drone phenomenon is growing fast.
Drone technology has advanced in past years to create easy to fly models that are suitable for the general public. If you are interested in learning to operate a drone, it’s a good idea to do a bit of research before heading out to get one of your own. Getting the right drone for your level of flying experience and what you intend to use it for will make all the difference in your enjoyment in your new hobby.
Even beginner drones, for those that will be flying for the first time, are available with excellent quality and features. Use your drone for business, creating travel videos, recording your child’s sports team events or just practice your maneuvers. Here is what you need to know when you are getting set to buy your first drone.
Types of Drones
Ready To Fly (RTF)
These drones are perfect for the first time pilot. They come ready to use right out of the box. You may have to charge your battery for a bit but then you are ready to fly. There should be no assembly necessary with the exception of adding decals or stickers that may come with your unit.
Almost Ready To Fly (ARF)
With these units there may be some slight assembly to do before you are ready to fly. You may also have to configure your unit to your transmitter by following the directions that come with your drone.
These units are not necessarily the best choice for beginner pilots. They tend to be slightly more complex models that often come without a transmitter. You will need to sync your new unit to a transmitter of your choice and go through the configuration process.
Most drones will only give you 5-10 minutes of continuous flight time. It’s a good idea to purchase one or more back-up batteries that can be easily switched when you are out in the field. For longer flight time, you may want to consider more substantial units with larger batteries, but these can also add to the weight of your unit.
Having a good quality camera on your drone can only add to the excitement and fun of flying. You should get a unit that has both photo and video capability for the most options. Adding a GoPro unit is an option for those that want great quality action footage. Be mindful that the more complex your camera unit is, the heavier it will be and therefore cut down your potential flying time.
Your drone will follow directions based on facing the same way as your transmitter. For example, when your drone is flying in front of you it will obey right/left the same way you are directing it. However, when your drone is circling back towards you the directional commands are reversed. This can be tricky for many first time pilots. To avoid this confusion, make sure that your unit has the Headless Mode option. This will allow your unit to follow left/right directions no matter where the drone is or what direction it is moving in.
If you lose sight of your drone, which can happen easily when you are a beginner pilot, the Return Home feature will allow you to call your unit back to the base no matter where it is with just the press of a button.
The average recreational drone has a range between 50-150 metres. For units that can travel farther without losing their signal, you are looking at more expensive units. Always keep your range in mind when flying so that you don’t lose control of your unit.
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