6 Steps to Take Before You Fly Your Drone
Flying a drone can be overwhelming so it’s important you know exactly what to do before every time you fly.
Check Local Regulations
Before ever flying a drone you should be well aware of the FAA (or equivalent of the country you’re in) regulations in regards to drones. To find out where you can fly, download the B4UFLY. It’s a really helpful app created by the FAA.
Beyond checking the app, make sure you’re familiar with the following recreational drone flying guidelines (for commercial flying you need to get a Part 107 Certification):
- Follow the safety guidelines of a model aircraft community-based organization
- Fly at or below 400 feet when in uncontrolled airspace (Class G)
- Fly within visual line-of-sight, meaning you as the drone operator use your own eyes and needed contacts or glasses (without binoculars), to ensure you can see your drone at all times.
- Never fly near other aircraft.
- Never fly over groups of people, public events, or stadiums full of people.
- Never fly near or over emergency response efforts.
This one seems simple but here are a few things to look out for to avoid crashing your drone. Obviously you’re going to want to look for trees, buildings, and wires, but you’re also going to want to pay attention to the height of objects around you for two reasons.
First, although regulations in most countries and the US are 400 feet (121 meters) it doesn’t mean you should always fly to that height. For example, if you’re standing on a beach with cliffs on either side, you shouldn’t fly much higher than the cliffs because you can’t see what is coming from the other side of the cliffs and helicopters could fly low without you being able to see or hear them coming.
Second, you’ll want to set your return to home altitude to higher than surrounding obstacles even if you don’t plan on flying above or around them. This means that if your drone were to get disconnected, you wouldn’t have to worry about the drone hitting any obstacles when it returns to you.
Almost every drone I have on my drone buyer guide has a smart return to home feature.
Plan Your Drone Shots
Double Check Your Battery and Propellers
Drones are so smart these days that not much can go wrong, but things that can be catastrophic are improperly installed batteries or propellers. Double and triple check that all are completely secure.
Ensure Your SD Card is in and Set to Continuous
Nothing is more frustrating than getting your drone in the air and realizing you left your SD card at home so always double check you have it in the drone before you take off. If you want to avoid that issue completely, get a drone with built in storage space like the Mavic 2. But worse than forgetting your SD card is having it in and having the SD card settings in the DJI Go App set to “Reset” instead of “Continuous.” If it is set to “reset” then every time you turn the drone on, it will start recording picture and video files over any previous files on the drone. I’ve lost some amazing pictures making this mistake and and I hope this will spare you from some of the same frustrations!
Check All Your Camera Settings
- Video Resolution and
- Frame Rate
- Shutter Speed
- White Balance
- Set photos to RAW instead of JPEG