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Getting Started with RC Drones: A Beginner's Guide Series

Getting Started with RC Drones: A Beginner's Guide Series

Drones have exploded in popularity in recent years. 

What was once a niche hobby is now becoming mainstream, with drones being used recreationally for racing and photography. RC (remote-controlled) drones are an accessible way to get started in aerial videography and photography. 

If you've been thinking about getting your first drone but aren't sure where to begin, then this beginner's guide series is for you!

Throughout this guide, we'll provide tips to help you take flight with drones as a hobby. We'll cover factors to consider when choosing your first drone, the basics of piloting and controls, following laws and best safety practices, and more. Whether you want to race FPV drones or take beautiful aerial shots, this guide will help prepare you for liftoff.

Drones provide a fun and unique way to explore videography and photography from new heights and perspectives. As a beginner, having the right information helps ensure you choose the right drone for your needs and fly safely. 

Stick with us as we go through everything you need to know to get started with these exciting RC drones!

How to Choose the Best RC Drone

First things first, before anything, you need to pick the right drone for you.

Since you're a beginner, yes, it'll be tempting to go all out on the most expensive, state-of-the-art drone you can find. Why not future proof yourself, you may ask.

However, bear in mind you're new, which means you might not enjoy the hobby and need to learn to stick with it. Flying a drone takes skill, and there's a bit of a learning curve that's tough to conquer.

Moreover, you'll probably crash a fair few times, and you don't want to crash thousands of dollars of kit.

All that said, purchasing your first drone is still an exciting experience! Let's cover some basics:

  • Price - As a beginner, you'll want to look at entry-level and mid-range drones under $500. This allows you to learn without worrying about expensive crashes. Some good budget starter options include the DJI Mavic Mini ($399) and the Potensic Dreamer Pro ($279).
  • Size - Many beginner drones are small, lightweight, and portable. Mini and micro drones like the DJI Mavic Mini or Potensic A20 are great for flying in tighter spaces. Larger drones may require more room and experience to pilot safely.
  • Camera Quality - Most beginner drones have HD cameras good enough for basic photography and videography. The DJI Mavic Mini captures 2.7K video and 12MP photos. Better camera drones cost more but produce higher-quality aerial footage and images.
  • Flight Time - Maximizing flight time involves an efficient motor and battery. Many novice drones will give you 10-30 minutes of flying, depending on conditions. The Potensic Dreamer Pro offers an impressive 20 minutes of flight per battery charge.
  • Ease of Control - Simple controls via smartphone or dedicated remote help new pilots easily maneuver their drones. Auto takeoff/landing and altitude hold modes also make drones like the Potensic A20 very beginner-friendly.

Again, don't go for the most advanced drone right away when starting out. Focus on a responsibly priced beginner model that you can learn with. 

Once you get the hang of flying, you can always upgrade!

How to Learn How to Fly a Drone

Once you have your first drone, it's time to start flying! Learning the basics of piloting and controls will help you quickly gain confidence in the air. Here are some tips for learning to fly your quadcopter:

  • Understand the controls - Most RC drones are controlled via a remote control or smartphone app. The basic controls include ascending, descending, turning left/right, forward/backward, and flipping. Refer to your user manual for how to operate them.
  • Use trim buttons - Trim buttons help adjust for any drift and stabilize the drone during hover. You may need to fine-tune the trims during your first few flights.
  • Start flying in open spaces - Find large open areas like fields or parks to practice flying in. This allows you to get the hang of the controls safely away from obstacles.
  • Fly low and slow to start - At first, fly just a few feet off the ground at slower speeds. Get a feel for each control input before flying higher or faster.
  • Practice precision maneuvers - Master taking off, hovering, landing, and flying in squares or circles. This will develop your directional control abilities.
  • Don't fly near people - Only attempt flying by yourself in open areas. Never fly near or over groups until you have extensive experience.

It can take a dozen flights or more to become adept at handling your drone. Take the time to practice the basics before attempting any advanced maneuvers or filming. Following the FAA's recreational drone guidelines will also keep your learning safe and responsible.

A Note on Following Drone Laws and Safety Tips

While drones offer exciting aerial opportunities, they must be flown responsibly and safely. Here are some key drone laws and best practices beginners should follow:

  • Register your drone - Depending on your location, you may need to register drones over a certain weight with the FAA. This helps identify reckless flyers.
  • Obey recreational flight rules - The FAA has specific guidelines on altitude, speed, airspace restrictions, and visibility for recreational drone flight. Review and follow them.
  • Avoid flying near airports - Stay at least 5 miles away from any airports or helipads when flying your drone. This prevents hazardous interactions with manned aircraft.
  • Keep your drone within sight - FAA rules require keeping your drone within your visual line of sight at all times. Use a spotter if needed.
  • Don't fly over people - Only fly over unoccupied land and water. Never pilot your drone directly over crowds, roads, or populated areas.
  • Stay under 400 feet - Recreational drones cannot legally exceed 400 feet in altitude. This helps avoid collisions with low-flying manned aircraft.
  • Inspect your drone before each flight - Double-check for any loose parts or damage that could impact flight safety. Also, ensure batteries are fully charged.

Following these tips will ensure you fly responsibly, legally, and safely. More advanced pilots can take additional courses and obtain FAA waivers if needed, but beginners should focus on recreational use within set guidelines. Happy and safe flying!

Wrapping Up

I hope this beginner's guide has provided a helpful introduction to safely getting started with recreational RC drone flying. We covered choosing an entry-level drone, learning basic flight controls, and following laws and best practices.

Drones are an incredibly fun hobby that opens the door to aerial photography and videography. With the right starter drone and beginner know-how, you'll be equipped to take flight!

If you're ready to try out your first drone, we highly recommend the BD101 Foldable FPV Drone with 1080P Camera

This sub-$50 drone boasts an impressive 1080P camera, an impressive battery life, Smart flying app for automated moves, gesture photo capture mode, and intuitive controls perfect for beginners - all to use without breaking the bank.

When you take to the skies with an RC drone, the world is your oyster. Let's get flying!

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