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How To Learn How To Fly A Drone

How to learn how to fly a drone

Introduction

OK, so you now have a drone and have started to ask yourself the “How to learn how to fly a drone?” question. You may want to improve your flight skills in a structured fashion, purely because you want to minimise the chances of crashing and destroying your precious toy. You might even perhaps aspire to a professional career in drones.

Whatever the reason, chances are that you realise the importance of being good at flying your drone.

There are many resources dealing with the ground training and testing content required by the various aviation authorities. A few of them are quality training institutions, like ABJ Drone Academy who offers a variety of ground and air training courses.

However, you’ll find very little on the Internet about drone flying improvement skills, maybe because practical flight skill tests are not a common prerequisite for obtaining your drone licence yet.

Our basic flight skills training syllabus was compiled by a former military and commercial flight instructor on both fixed wing aeroplanes and helicopters. It was designed according to modern training and education principles and cover the basic, intermediate and advanced aspects of drone flying skills development. Keep on reading to find out how you can obtain a FREE copy of the initial lessons.

Assumed prior knowledge

It is assumed that you have adequate knowledge about the regulation, weather, drone controls, safety and other theoretical aspects of drone flying. This syllabus focuses on the actual drone flying skills training which can be used when learning to fly quadcopters and hexacopters. It is intended for PRIVATE USE ONLY and all rights are reserved.

In particular, it is assumed that you are fully conversant with your country’s laws and regulations, and have passed your regulators prescribed theory test. This is necessary because you might unintentionally commit an infringement of the regulation when starting to fly.

Buy a simulator first or not?

Yes, you don’t have to risk your expensive toy on your first flight. There are many simulation options available ranging from free online stuff to expensive (and very realistic) 3D simulation with controllers.

Free online software- the main problem is that you do not get the realistic feel from operating a realistic controller. As old fashioned as this might sound, I strongly believe that good “stick-and-rudder” skills is what you are after (that is precisely why you are reading my article!) Not recommended.

Purchased software with a controller- These are widely available. For around $30, you will get good value for money, and guaranteed entertainment for yourself and the kids that have much more educational value than Pokemon!

However, for the same price you can buy a cheap drone with a remote controller which can be tossed if it breaks. Many of them have GPS altitude hold and headless mode, which are the essential features of a training drone. Personally, I’d go this route and buy a Potensic A20 RC Nano Quadcopter featured here:

Training Drones are almost cheaper than simulation software these days.

Training Drones are almost cheaper than simulation software these days.

Selection of a training site

It is specifically important to know the rules when selecting your training site, because the wrong choice might result in a hefty fine. When selecting a site, please keep the following principles, some of which are widely applied in the regulation, in mind:

Football fields were actually intended as drone practice terrains!

  • A large open area, at least the size of a football field, free of any obstacles. The surface should be level and the grass cut short. This is VERY important in order to prevent damage to the propellers on landing.
  • Carefully observe your country’s rules regarding the proximity of airports and helipads. In most cases, a 5km buffer applies, although in a few cases the buffer is 10 km (eg South Africa). Also, the regulation is evolving since the 2018 Gatwick event, and take note of extra provision built into the regulation to provide for extended runway centreline clearance.
  • Controlled airspace should be avoided, and flights may not exceed specific heights (400’ in most countries).
  • You cannot fly where people are gathered, for example at sports events. Remain at least 50m clear of people or private property. This principle may well rule out your local family leisure park.

In summary, the best choice of a location would be large and open with no obstacles. A football field is well suited, but do make sure that you strictly obey the local drone laws. Find summaries of the drone laws in the US, the UK, and Australia elsewhere on our website (click to view).

Preparation

Battery tester

Battery testers are handy, cheap and easy to come by.

Ensure that you have several batteries available as the sessions will generally exceed average battery charge endurance. Remain observant of the charge state of the batteries while working through the syllabus and make sure you land to replace the battery with a charged one in time.

Also remember to replace the batteries in your controller occasionally! Transmission distance will be reduced if the batteries falter. All experienced drone flyers that I know, have a battery charge tester in their supplies box and check the state of their batteries as a habit. These testers are small and cheap and can easily be obtained from Amazon. Make sure you choose one that is suitable for your needs!

Like batteries, you also need to be charged and alert while flying your drone to avoid mistakes which might be costly or even dangerous. Do NOT fly too much on one day. Your concentration might falter after a while with disappointing results!”

The Training

The lessons are generally last 45-60 min. This does not sound like much, but it becomes an entirely different matter when you have to fully concentrate throughout the session. If you start feeling your concentration wander, the best thing to do is land immediately and take a break or pack up for the day.

You’ll need some sort of a landing pad. Any flat object that would prevent dust from getting blown up, and is a little bit heavy to provide a stable surface would suffice. My one mate uses his wife’s breadboard from the kitchen. Else, you can get a proper one through Amazon (click the pic).

It is aways a good idea to get a professional drone landing pad.

You also need markers to help you aim at certain target spots. Low sports marking cones like these featured below, work well and are available cheaply from Amazon.

Onto the real thing!

Our drone flying self-training syllabus was developed by a qualified military and commercial flight instructor. It consists of 14 lessons grouped into 2 phases: Flight skills (both Basic and Advanced) and Applied Skills (Photographic, Sling, Hot&High; and Survey Patterns).

Once ready, with or without simulation training, we invite you to sign up to our email list and receive a FREE copy of the first four lessons from our 14-lesson drone training syllabus. It was designed by a qualified military and commercial flight instructor. This guide will show you how to learn how to fly a drone on your own easily, and will cover:

  • Basic knowledge of the drone components and controller face panel
  • Power up, Take-off, Hovering and Landing
  • Position change (tied heading)

Your feedback and comments will be much appreciated, especially once you have completed the four lessons.

Happy hovering!

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