May 23, 2019

Just bought a drone? Here’s everything you should know

If you’ve just bought your first drone, welcome to the club! Flying a drone is insane amounts of fun, and capturing photos and videos from the sky is an amazing experience. Before you take off on your first flight, there are a couple of things we think you should know about to ensure you stay safe, stay on the right side of the law and ensure you can keep flying your drone for years to come.

Drone registration

In the US, ff your drone weighs more than 0.55 lbs, you will need to register it with the FAA before you fly. It costs $5 and you just need to be over the age of 13 to register. You’ll also need to display your drone registration number on your drone when done.

Rules and regulations

We recently wrote a long post that covers all of the drone laws in the US you need to adhere to when flying your drone, and the different laws by state, so we won’t go into too much depth here, but making sure you are up-to-speed on the latest drone laws will ensure you’re flying on the right side of the law. The most important and general laws are:

  • Stay at least five miles away from all airports.
  • Don’t fly more than medium feet above the ground.
  • Don’t fly over people without permission
  • Don’t fly over government facilities, private property or in national parks.

Update your software and firmware

You’re drone will likely need a firmware and software update before you take your first flight to ensure your drone is running the latest safety features. If you have bought a DJI drone, there is always a QR code on the DJI boxes that takes you to where you download the DJI software.

Drones are easy to crash

Even with the latest obstacle avoidance features, it’s still quite easy to crash a drone. For instance, enabling Sport mode on a DJI drone will disable the obstacle avoidance features, so it’s easy if the drone is not in line of sight to hit something, especially if you are travelling at speed. It’s best to familiarize yourself with the features of your specific drone, and even if your drone offers great anti-collision features, we’d recommend keeping away from structures or trees, and controlling your speed if you are flying around objects.

Not all DJI drones have sensors all around, so care must be taken whilst travelling sideways or backwards, or any direction your particular drone doesn’t have sensors.

DJI drones with a RTH (Return To Home) feature will usually have this set to 100ft, the drone will climb to 100ft before returning home. We’d recommend setting this to 200ft as the default to ensure you are well and truly clear of any obstacles

One of the largest causes of drone crashes is compass interference, something you may not know about. If there is a large metal structure nearby such as power line, it can interfere with the drone’s compass. Usually if there’s a large amount of interference, DJI drones will warn you and ask if you want to recalibrate the sensors. When you do recalibrate your drone, make sure you never do it near metal objects or the calibration data won’t be correct.

Be cautious flying in high winds and at night time

Another large cause of drone crashes is loss of GPS signal. If there is no GPS signal the drone will usually know not drift using its optical sensors, however if it’s dark, the drone may switch in to Atti mode where the drone can drift with the wind.

If you’re new to flying a drone, or just need some more practice, FlyThere is great way to get up into the skies without having to worry about any of these issues. Just like you wouldn’t take your first driving lesson without an instructor, our FlyThere co-pilots have years of experience and they’ll be there to help you every step of the way.

We’ve also taken care of all of the legalities on the ground, and our drones are always running the latest firmware and software. Your first flight is completely free, and you can sign up here.

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