Beginners Guide to Drone Basics 101

Whether you’re looking to become the next big FPV racing champ or learn the basics of drone flying so you can capture some cool aerial footage – you’re in the right place.

Drones have sparked a fire of creativity in hobbyist flyers and commercial pilots alike. From mapping new designs, spearheading a new method of overhead cinematography, to racing through creatively constructed courses, drone enthusiasts have taken their inspirations to new heights.

But before you run outside and take to the skies with your brand new drone, it’s essential to make sure you are familiar with your controls and terms!

How do you control your drone?

Most FPV drones come with a controller and a special headset that allows you to see what your drone sees!

On your average controller you’ll find 2 main sticks that act of your throttle and help control the direction your quad flies in – because, spoiler, your thumbs will be telling you’re drone where to go!

Your controller is also decked out with additional AUX switches for toggling between other flying modes, as well as the ability to switch on other features (i.e.: lights).

Terms you definitely want to know before taking to the skies:

  • Pitch – You can control the “pitch” of your drone using the up/down toggle on the right hand switch of your controls. When someone starts chatting you up about a quad’s pitch, what they are actually talking about is the up/down movement a drone makes from nose to tail (or front to back, really).
  • Roll – You can control which way your quadcopter rolls using the left/right toggle on your right hand switch. This toggle will help your drone fly sideways from right to left.
  • Yaw – Last but not least is yaw, which might be the most confusing for first-timer pilots to learn. Yaw isn’t too hard though! It’s just rotating the quad’s “head” from right to left (whereas “roll” is shifting the entire drone – head, body, and all – from side to side.

Other useful terms would be…

Uplift vs. Downfall…

You might already have a pretty good guess what these two terms might mean but just in case:

  • Uplift – Imagine a kid helping his toy space rocket lift off the ground, exclaiming, “Take off!” Well, the concept of “uplift” for drones is pretty much the same. Uplift is when a quad takes off from the ground into the air.
  • Downfall – While it has the word “fall” compounded in there, no, downfall doesn’t have anything to do with your drone crashing into the ground. Instead, it is when a pilot gently makes a controlled landing on the ground – securely and carefully.

Know before you take-off…

While there are a ton of different possibilities on how you can put your new quad through its paces, it is vital to research the regulations surrounding drone flight before you take off. There are rules established by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) all drone pilots must obey.

  • Register your pilot’s license
    Almost all pilots are required to apply and pass the FAA’s specialized test in order to obtain a remote pilot certificate.
  • Register your drone
    This rue hinges on whether you’re flying a quad as a hobby or for commercial uses. If you are a non-hobbyist,” you will be required to register your quadcopter at any of the locations that FAA has kindly listed.
  • Keep clear of airports
    No drones are allowed to fly within a five-miles of all airports – be sure to leave that patch of sky clear for the airplanes!
  • Google the drone laws in your state
    Each state has differing laws on the utilization of drones equipped with cameras – i.e.: it is not legal in the state of California to use a drone to film a person without their consent.

And if you’re just looking for a few little-known facts to impress your friends at your next meet-up…

  • Leave your drone home when it comes to your next big camping trip at Yellowstone… Drones are banned from all National Parks! (Bummer!)
  • It’s estimated that in the next 15 year, there will be over 20,000 drones in the sky in the United States.
  • Started in 2014, drone racing has grown into such a popular sport that it now has its own official Drone Racing League (DRL).
  • The DRL uses large venues to build specialized courses for pilots to race their FPV quads through.
  • Drones have a multitude of different uses including: video recording, medicine delivery, landscape/property surveying, and more.
  • Previously famous for their “30 minutes or it’s free!” guarantee, titan pizza providers at Domino’s are considering rolling with a drone pizza delivery system.

So, there you have it. Whether you’re a wanna-be pilot dreaming of making your drone daydreams into a high-flying reality, or a veteran poking around to learn all you can, you’re now armed with a great combination of the basics and little-known facts.

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