Hello and welcome to another post here at RC Hobbies on Air. Today we’ll talk about how to fly a drone.
If you have zero experience and looking for a fresh and easy to follow guide to help you start flying in no-time, then this post is for you.
First of all, you must know that flying a drone is a learnable skill. Anyone can do it, and the only thing you need is patience and hard work.
Also, get ready to read something that may be opposite to what other guides are sharing. I wouldn’t say those guides are wrong, I’d simply say it didn’t work for me that way!
For instance, most guides out there say you should start flying drones outdoors, like a field. In my experience, and especially for a beginner, all that open space invites you to hit the throttle and take the drone far away without even thinking if you’ll be able to land it.
Every time not just me, but other friends who tried drones with me for the first time, this happened…
Everybody felt excited about taking the drone up high and we ended up crashing because had no idea how to land the thing.
That is why this guide will insist that you should start in an enclosed space, to practice basic moves and from there move outdoors.
It is true that you may hit some walls with your drone, but don’t panic, because I’m even suggesting a drone for this process which is proven (by me) to withstand hits, crashes, and hard landings. Also, it shouldn’t break your house.
The step by step on how to fly a drone
First we need a drone
The first thing we need to do is to get a real drone to get real-life experience. I’m pro simulator as well, so it wouldn’t be bad starting with a simulator and then go for the real-life experience.
However, once you’re done with the simulator, you’ll need a step by step guide to get started, so you may come back as well and find yourself at the very same point where you need to start getting real-life experience flying a drone.
I want to disclose this drone does not come with FPV functionality, and if this is something you’d like to try, then the model for beginners I recommend is the Syma X5SW.
For this guide, we could use any of these drones. You can actually get the two for less than $100 dollars, so just take a look at your budget and get whatever suits you best.
Here is a quick tip on how to buy a drone
Just in case you need a bit of orientation on how to buy a drone (because you don’t like my recommendation, say it!), I want to give you a few tips on how to buy a drone.
There are 3 main truths that every drone buyer should know. These are going to be broken down into 6 basic factors and then I’ll point to a resource you can use with more information.
Here they are…
- A drone is only as good as the flight experience it provides in the eyes of the end user.
- The flight experience a drone provides is determined by flight and charge times, flight range, and the camera (if desired by the end user) specs.
- In order to ensure customer satisfaction and avoid buyer’s remorse, both the price of the drone as well as the customer reviews and ratings have to be considered.[/alert-announce]
From here, you can see there are 6 things you need to check in order to get the best drone for you:
- Price – This needs to fit your budget, and for a beginners’ drone I would advise to go with something cheap.
- Customer ratings and reviews – Check what others are saying about the drone you want to buy, as this is pure and true data you can trust. The higher the rating from the more customer reviews, the better.
- Flight time – The length of time a drone will stay operational on a single battery pack. The longest the better.
- Charge time – How long you’ll have to wait to fully recharge the battery. The shortest the better.
- Camera specs – For now I’d suggest to simply pick an HD or FHD camera, with or without FPV functionality as per your future intention with the drone.
- Flight range – The distance the drone can fly away from the transmitter without loosing signal and/or getting lost and/or activating an out of range protection.
Those are the 6 (pretty basic) things you should look at when buying a drone. Like I said, there are other aspects I’d check as well and all of these are included in this cool infographic drone buying guide I created.
Some Simulators I Recommend
I spoke about flight simulators earlier and I think these deserve a bit of attention on this guide. There are some very cool ones that I really like because of two things: They are free (or have a freemium version) and really help you get an idea of what is like to fly a drone.
Something that I like as well is that all of these are apps you can use with your smart phone, so you really get a feeling of using a transmitter when using these simulators.
Here are some I have tried and recommend you use to hone your piloting skills.
There are many more, but reality is nothing will give you the experience as the real thing, and that is why I would suggest doing what you got to do with a simulator and move quickly to the real drone.
Quick Pre-flight Summary
OK, time to do a bit of a checklist before getting into the real thing.
By now, you should have:
- Trained on a simulator (really, go with the freemium versions).
- Read my guide on what to look for when buying a drone. This will ensure you have everything you need to get started, but just in case, I’ll add those details here.
- Bought the Syma X5C or X5SW models I suggested here or a drone within your budget. Here a few drone recommendations if you need help with that.
- Learned about drone regulations in your country of residence. If you are in the US, check the FAA drone ruels and regulations for hobbyists page.
- Bought extra batteries and at least one set of spare parts for your drone (you’ll need these, trust me).
- Bought batteries for the transmitter. These usually are 6 AA batteries, so get some for your transmitter.
- Installed the propellers safety guards on your drone.
- Fully assembled other parts (such as the camera, LiPo battery, and landing gear) of the drone to make it fully functional.
- Read your drone’s instruction manual in full (this is a must do).
- Designated a room with plenty of space to start practicing (our initial practice will be indoors, and we’ll move to outdoors later in the guide).
This should be enough for now, but I’ll keep updating this guide as more comments and suggestions come my way.
Post flight (crash) safety recommendations
I know we haven’t got the drone in the air, but you better know these things before and not later.
After you land (…or crash), and especially if you crash, it will be very tempting to simply move towards the drone to place it back again on the right position.
Before doing this there is something I want you to know…
Keep an eye on your transmitter and consider turning it off when doing this!!!
Depending on the pairing process of your drone you may want to turn off the transmitter, but if you can’t do this, then at the very least make sure you either disarm (deactivate) the motors or push the throttle all the way down, and make sure you keep it like that!
Sometimes you may simply put your transmitter between your arm and ribs to hold it while you go to the spot where the drone crashed or landed.
When you bend over to reach for the drone, more than likely the throttle will be pushed. If this happens, the motors could get started and you could get injured by the propellers.
Thus, every time you need to reach for the drone, make sure the throttle is not pushed accidentally. To do this, you could decide on a way to hold the transmitter and discipline yourself to always do this.
Also, if the process does not require you to go through a lot of calibrations, you can simply switch the transmitter off.
There are many things you’ll learn along the way, but this is a safety measure that I definitely wanted to point out, since nobody talks about the post-flight time.
Let’s know your drone: Explaining the basic parts
Before turning anything on or pushing any button, I want to go over the main parts of the drone and explain a little bit of what they do. This should help you get familiar not only with the drone but also with the jargon of the hobby.
On/Off switch: This is a button or a switch that is used to turn on the drone. This will enable the pairing and calibration process of both the drone’s receiving and remote control’s transmitter circuits.
Drone frame: This is the actual body of the drone. The drone frame is what holds the motors that move the propellers and the housing for all the other electronics.
Propellers: These are the spinning blades that make the drone fly.
Propellers’ safety guards: Not all drones have them but whenever available make sure to install them, as these will help protect objects, people, plants, and pets from being injured by a propeller.
Motors: Usually 4, but really depends on the type of drone you get (Quad – 4, Hexa – 6, Ecto – 8). Something you must know about the motors is that these can be brushed or brushless. For now this may not matter that much, but in the long run and as you gain experience try to always go with brushless motors, as these are more efficient and last longer.
Landing gear: It’s the part of the drone that will touch the ground when taking off and landing (properly).
ESC (Electronic Speed Control): The name speaks for itself, and it is part of the electronics controlling the speed of the motors and ultimately the propellers. This is inside the drone’s frame.
Gyro control: The electronic device that helps the drone move in the correct direction and fly stable.
Camera: The actual camera of the drone. This can be FPV (First Person View) or not. FPV functionality can also be referred as WiFi camera and means the drone can live-stream footage when flying to a remote device (transmitter or smartphone).
LED lights: These are used to locate the drone when flying at night. Also, they blink to communicate phases of the calibration and pairing processes.
LiPo battery: The source of power for your drone.
Receiver: Another electronic component that is in charge of the communication with the transmitter (remote control), so that the drone can be controlled with it.
These are the basic parts of the drone I think you need to know.
What is the Head of the Drone?
While not a real part, it is important we talk about this one.
The head of the drone is usually the front side of the device. In many cases, the direction in which the camera of the drone is pointing to.
However, the definitive way to recognize the head of the drone is to identify that side of if that if placed pointing away from you, yours and the drone’s directions will be the same.
Knowing which side of the drone is the head is important because the controls are fixed to this head, so that is how you’ll be able to practice and know in which direction the drone will move.
There is a flight mode called: Headless mode, which should ease the way in which the drone is controlled, yet for learning how to fly a drone, the headless mode could mean cheating in many ways.
For now we’ll stick with the fixed head mode, and as you progress in your flight skills the headless mode will come very handy and naturally.
The Remote Control (Transmitter) Explained
The transmitter has several parts that need to be explained in detail and one by one.
Let’s get started.
On/Off switch: This is usually the first button you interact with. The On/Off switch will tun on the transmitter and will initiate the pairing process of both the receiver and transmitter circuits, we’ll talk in more detail about this later, but for now know this is an important part of your drone.
Left Joystick: First of all, you have to know that the transmitter can be configured in different flight modes. This has an impact on how the controls work. For this guide, I’ll be using the default flight mode, which is usually called “Mode 1”.
If you wish to experiment a bit with flight modes, please refer to your instructions manual to learn how to configure these and what to expect of each one.
Having said this, the left joystick can move front/back and left/right. The front/back movement is completely free, while the left/right is spring-controlled.
Note this is how the joystick can move but not necessarily means the drone will move alike. We’ll get there soon.
This means the joystick be set to a position front/back but left/right movement will always bounce back to the center, because of the spring it has.
Talking specifically about the drone, the left joystick controls two things during flight, thrust and yaw. Let me briefly describe each one for you.
Thrust/throttle control: This is controlled by moving the left joystick up or down. The thrust/throttle controls the power the motors get. The more power, the faster the spinning blades will rotate, moving the drone up or down.
Yaw control: When the left joystick is moved left or right, the drone will rotate on its vertical axis.
Right Joystick: Continuing with the flight mode 1, this one will control the roll and front and back directions of the drone. The right joystick is spring-controlled in every direction, so whatever movement you do, the right joystick will bounce back.
Roll control: Pushing the right joystick left or right will move the drone in either or direction, side to side on a horizontal axis.
Pitch: If you want the drone go forward or backwards, then the right joystick pitch control is what you need. This as well will move the drone on a horizontal axis.
Trim controls: Sometimes the yaw, roll, and pitch rotations are not well calibrated, and so, you can see the drone going to a side right when you activate the thrust, without you moving the drone in any direction.
In such cases, the trim controls will help you adjust those small issues to have a properly calibrated drone.
LCD Screen: Not all transmitters come with an LCD screen, but if yours does, this will help you know useful information about the drone while flying.
Battery life, flight mode, speed, distance, and many other things could be seen here. For many FPV drones, this screen will be your mobile device, since there is where this information will be displayed.
Side buttons: Many very advanced transmitters will have buttons everywhere. In the case of the one we’ll use, there is a button on the side part of the transmitter.
These buttons can have several functions, but the one we will use here works to perform an advanced movement on the drone. I’ll let you discover that.
Antenna: This is the part that sends the signal from the transmitter to the drone’s receiver. Without an antenna, it would be impossible to transmit those signals.
AA Batteries: On the back side of the transmitter we’ll install 6 AA batteries (in most cases), for the transmitter to work properly.
The Pairing Process Step by Step
Having discussed the basics in terms of parts of the drone and transmitter, and having checked the pre-flight section, we are then ready to get started with the flight process.
The first thing you must do is to place the drone on a leveled and horizontal surface, before turning it on. This is important because will help calibrate the gyro and other electronics of the drone.
Then turn on the drone’s switch. With the model we are using, you’ll see the lights of the drone blink, meaning that both the electronics are being calibrated and that the drone is looking for a transmitter to pair to.
Turn on the transmitter. Once the transmitter is ON, the drone’s lights will blink more rapidly, meaning that the drone has detected a transmitter and can be paired with it.
In order to pair both devices, push the left joystick up and down on a single movement to finalize the process. You should hear a beep once this is done, meaning that the drone and transmitter are now paired.
Starting to test your drone: Let’s start with the left Joystick
If I’m accurately writing this guide, then you should get started indoors. Like I previously said, some people think this is not convenient, but my experience (and what I’ve seen with other first-time pilots) tells me otherwise.
With the drone paired, and at a safe distance (3 – 5 meters) from it. Slowly and gradually (seriously), hit the thrust control (left joystick up) to start the motors.
The thrust control is very sensitive, and you’ll notice very fast if you went harder than required. Don’t get nervous or afraid, as this is part of the learning process and getting to know the drone involves calibrating your expectation versus reality.
In fact, do this a few times to help you know the responsiveness of the drone. I’d recommend getting the drone to fly only a few inches from the ground and then getting it back to the floor.
When you feel confident with gauging the controls of the throttle, then bring the drone a bit higher (just a bit).
Throttle Control: Take off and Landing
Now that you know the thrust control better, it is a good idea to bring the drone a bit higher, maybe about the level of your chest (remember you are still at a safe distance from it), from the ground.
This is important as you still need to learn how the drone looks like when moving.
To do this, hit the thrust gradually until the drone gets about your chest level. In this case, the Syma X5C does not come with an “Altitude Hold” functionality, so you’ll have to keep the altitude manually (which is part of your training as well).
Do this often enough to watch your drone in the air and get used to that feeling, so that you can truly learn to control the uncontrollable.
Again, bring the drone back to the ground by pushing the left joystick backwards and try to land as smoothly as possible.
Don’t get frustrated if you have a hard time doing this, as learning to land is one of the hardest parts of this hobby (think about it, you can think a lot before taking off, but landing can only be done when you are in the air).
Repeat this a few times until you feel comfortable with taking off and landing (even a bit hard) from your chest level.
By the way, until now we’ve only used one function of one joystick, and if you are indoors, there should be no air to move the drone in any other direction. If you notice there is a slight shift of the drone, use the trim controls to adjust appropriately.
The way the trim works is like this: If the drone moves to the right and you are not commanding it from the transmitter, then use the trim for the roll and push it to the left on single bits until the movement is adjusted. This is the logic behind the trim controls.
Let’s keep exploring the left joystick…
Yaw Control: Rotating the Drone on its Vertical Axis
With the drone in the air, and trying to hold the altitude of the drone push the left joystick either left or right so the drone rotates on its vertical axis. This controls the drone’s yaw.
Something worth noticing is that as soon as you rotate the drone, and the “head” stays the same, the roll controls will change a bit.
If for instance, you rotate the drone 180°, the roll controls will be opposite. That is, if you move the right joystick to the left, the drone will move right and vice versa.
Therefore, knowing where the head of the drone is, becomes crucial. When the drone flies close to the ground level, or even at your chest level it might be easy to distinguish this, but as it gets higher and farther away you may not be able to know, and if the yaw is moved, then controls become confusing.
This is why some drones have “headless mode” on them. This should help you keep the controls of the drone true not to the head, but to you.
In order for the headless mode to work you must not move when flying the drone. If you move, you are automatically changing the controls.
The yaw control is very useful, but you’ll need to learn to control this in order to hone your piloting skills. We’ll do more of this in our practice section.
The Right Joystick: Roll and Pitch Control
The right joystick controls two directions of the drone as well. The roll (left and right horizontal move) and the pitch (back and forth horizontal move).
Let’s explore the roll and pitch movements so you know how to produce these with the drone.
Rolling your drone left and right
The roll movement is controlled by the right joystick on the transmitter. Like I previously indicated, the drone will move left or right on a horizontal axis with the roll movement.
Something worth noticing is that it is called roll because this rotates the drone just a bit on a horizontal axis. This axis should be imagined going right through the center of the drone from back to front.
When the drone tilts, so do the spinning blades. The result of doing this is the spinning blades are now pushing air on a diagonal direction, and the horizontal component of the force produced by the propellers is what moves the drone on the horizontal axis from left to right.
If you’d need to move the drone on a left to right diagonal path, then both the roll and the thrust are to be involved.
Pitching your drone Back and Front
Now imagine we draw another axis from left to right that goes right trough the center of the drone. The pitch alters that angle and makes the drone tilt but this time on a back and forth fashion.
The same that happens with the roll is true for the pitch, yet the pitch produces a back and forth movement because the propellers are tilted as well.
This is how drones move left and right, and back and forth. This by the way, is a bit different with RC helicopters, just in case you are interested.
Again, if you wanted to describe a diagonal back and forth path, then pitch and thrust are to be involved.
Flying in Patterns: Combining basic movements
We have explored the basics of a drone’s movements. At this point you know what moves what and have familiarized yourself with the controls and its sensitivity.
Keep practicing these basic controls until you feel confident with each one of them.
If you’ve done so, now is time for us to start flying the drone in more complex patterns.
Remember we are still practicing indoors. I’ll tell you during this guide when the time comes to move outdoors.
Drawing a Square Shape
One of the most fun and simplest ways to hone your piloting skills is by only using the roll and the pitch of your drone to draw a square shape.
There are no stone-written instructions to do this, but here is my description of how I’d go to accomplish this.
- Place your drone at a safe distance form you and make sure all safety guards are installed. Turn it on and pair it with the transmitter.
- Once ready, hit the thrust until the drone gains altitude about your chest level.
- Consider the available space you have and from there, move front, right, back, and left.
- If you do this right, you should finish at the same point you started.
- Repeat the process but this time go backwards, that is, move right, front, left, and back.
Play along with variations of this pattern, there are 4 different directions in which you can start. Do this always considering the space at the room you are and try to avoid getting close to walls or the roof.
At this point, only move on a horizontal axis, do not add to the mix the thrust yet. Let’s go one step at a time. Land your drone and get ready for the next lesson.
Draw a Circle Shape
Now we are moving into a bit more advanced area: flying the drone in circles.
At this point, we haven’t added the yaw to the mix, and will keep it like that for this exercise, as that will require you to be proficient with the right stick first.
Here are the steps you need to follow to fly in a circle pattern.
- Once you’ve placed the drone at a safe distance from you, and with all safety guards installed, push the throttle to gain altitude.
- Move your right stick to your 12 o’clock position and see how the drone goes a bit far away.
- Keep moving the right joystick to 1, then 2 until your 3 o’clock and make sure the drone starts moving as well in a circular pattern.
- Keep moving through your 4 to 5 slowly, allowing the drone to hit each one of those points.
- Get down to 6 and move gently to 7 and 8.
- Keep going, keep going, we are almost there, you’ve hit 9.
- Move to 10 and from there to 11.
- Voila! You’ve reached 12 o’clock again.
This process can be done clock or counter clockwise, and it will greatly serve you to practice both ways.
Also, don’t expect your shapes to be geometrically-perfect. What is important here is to familiarize yourself with the drone controls and practice until your brain connects the wires.
After this, perfection can be pursued.
Modifying the Yaw
This is the first time we’ll combine the movements of both joysticks on a horizontal movement.
Like I previously pointed out, the moment you alter the yaw of the drone, the roll and pitch controls will be changed as well.
But that is the purpose of this exercise, to hone your piloting skills in several ways.
Also, remember my recommendation: Do not move from the spot you chose to control the drone, or you’ll add another variation to the mix.
Try as well to always keep visibility of your drone without having to twist or bend… and by all means be sure to fly on a safe way by installing all the propellers’ guards and keeping a safe distance between you or other people and pets, with the drone.
Let’s get started!
- Hit the thrust to gain altitude and put the drone at your chest level or lower, but not too close to the floor.
- Hit the yaw control to rotate the drone to the right.
- Practice the roll and pitch movements (the square and circle patterns) with the controls switched 90°.
- Rotate another 90° to the right. This time both pitch and roll should be completely reversed. Practice with the drone controls like this and get used to it.
- Rotate another 90° and get confident with controls like this.
- Finally rotate 90°more and controls should be “normal” again.
- Repeat this process as many times as you need.
- Practice rotating the drone clock and counter clockwise.
It can take you a while to get used to this, but it is how you should practice to really master the art of drone piloting, so don’t get frustrated if this happens, just keep practicing and getting better.
Also, if your drone comes equipped with a headless mode, don’t use it, as this would be cheating in your training.
Combining everything we Know
I know moving the drone with the controls shifted was both challenging and exciting, but now we’ll move into another area that will set the bar a bit higher.
Again, everything I’ve written here is easier said than done (you probably noticed that already), however, keep practicing and improve your skills progressively, as this is the only way to master the drone controls.
This time we’ll move in what many people call continuous flight, which is nothing more than just moving the drone around on a horizontal plane, controlling yaw, roll, and pitch.
You must know that the following exercise is only a suggestion, as you could practice in as many ways as you like. Piloting a drone is both a learnable skill and an art form, and therefore there are no stone-written instructions to do this.
Let’s get into it
- Safety precautions first.
- Gain a bit of altitude
- Move the drone in an “S” pattern from back to front.
- Rotate 180° and move again in an “S” pattern to the point you started.
- Continue repeating this process until you get confident in your flight skills.
As I just said, you could try square and circular shapes, and all other kinds of movements. Start with the one that makes you feel more comfortable as your next step and keep practicing and evolving (yes, like in Pokémon) your skills.
Time to move Outdoors!!!
At this point you should feel very confident on how to control a drone during flight. Until now we’ve done this practicing indoors and with lots of controlled variables (such as wind).
It is time to move to an outdoors location. This can be a park or a wider area where you can go further with the drone.
Also, if you feel the need to go and explore with your drone, at least you’ll be more familiar now and will have an idea of what to do if you lose sight of it or simply get it out of range.
By the way, and while not proud of it, here is a video of something that happened to me with my Syma X5C-1 drone. Therefore, I consider important to start at an indoors place, the temptation to push the throttle was too much for me.
I’m not going to say you don’t do this, because if you must lose a drone to know what it is like, be my guest, but I will recommend you not to do it, because of several reasons:
- Not safe
- Costs money
- Could get you in trouble (I was extremely lucky)
- And not good for your practicing sessions, as you’ll have no drone to practice
Those are the reasons at the top of my head I can think of right now, but surely you reading this have many others to point out.
Back to our practice outdoors.
When picking a place to fly outdoors, be sure to check this is not considered a No-Fly Zone, that is, a restricted area where drones are not allowed to fly. You should be able to find these zones in your country by doing an online search.
If you live in the US, be sure to check this page by Know Before you Fly, since they keep an updated map of these No-Fly Zones.
Also, be sure to follow all regulations applicable in your country. For now, we’ll be flying only for recreational purposes, so this page describes all the steps you have to follow, at least if you are in the US.
Once you’ve complied with this and are aware of any recommendations or laws you are subject to, it is time to start having fun.
Try the Controls Outdoors
Once you are outdoors, the first thing you’ll start to notice is the effect of the wind on the drone. Even if there is no wind (and in fact you should fly with very little to no wind at all), the sensation of flying a drone will be completely different outdoors.
Why, you ask?
- Wind and weather conditions
- Sunshine and visibility
- The always present temptation of hitting full throttle!
- Obstacles and objects nearby
- The difficulty that represents to fly a drone that is far away
This is why it would be important to repeat some of the exercises we did indoors to get a feel of how it is like to fly the drone outdoors.
Truth is that while this time will seem easier than when you started, it is important to do a check outside just to see how the drone responds.
Draw and 8 Shape
Now that you are outdoors and with lots of practice under your belt, a good and challenging exercise would be to draw an 8 shape with your drone.
This could be done using only the roll and pitch, and when you feel confident doing it you can add the yaw to it.
The 8 shape tends to be tricky when adding the yaw control, but it is by far one of the best ways to improve and advance your game in terms of piloting skills.
If you want a few steps on how to do this, here they are:
- Safety first, so be sure everything with your drone is properly installed and secured.
- Hit the thrust up and place the drone at your chest level.
- Start moving the right joystick to the upper right corner and allow the drone to actually follow this pattern
- Slowly move the right joystick until you are at 2 o’clock
- Once there, slowly start moving the joystick on a straight line from 2 to 8.
- Still with the right joystick, slowly move from 8 all the way until 4.
- Once there, slowly start moving the right joystick on a straight line to 10.
- Move slowly all the way to 2 o’clock and you should have completed an 8 shape.
Those were the steps on how to do the roll and pitch version.
For the one with the yaw, the explanation on how to move the joysticks is very hard to describe but very intuitively (if you’ve practiced enough) when performed.
For this reason, I’m not adding that here, but I can give you a tip on how to go about this: Start by drawing a digital ”8” shape.
That would be to push pitch forward, then rotate right 90°, then move the drone right, rotate 90° again and move the drone back to you. Another 90° to the right and move to the point where you stated.
By now you have made the upper square.
From that point, draw the lower circle going back, then rotating 90° to the left, going right, 90° to the left again, and forward.
That will complete the digital 8.
Form there, start doing this faster and faster, until you can start doing a rounded 8 shape.
I have to warn you, that at first, your shapes will be far from perfect, but as you progress, you’ll be able to do better shapes.
Full Throttle (Yes!!!)
Now that you really know how to control your drone, it is time to have some more fun. Let’s go up high!
Simply place the drone at a safe distance from you and push the throttle up. Make sure you are able to see the drone and do some basic movements up there.
How high should you go? Go as high as you feel comfortable going to, but don’t fly above 400 feet, as that is the general safety rule from the FAA for hobbyists.
Now it would be a good time to take some photos and videos if your drone has a camera and start moving the drone in different directions, so you can capture as much as possible.
We are not practicing aerial photography here, but soon you’ll be ready to do so if that is what you want.
Rotate your drone 360°
If you have a camera on it, something you’ll find fascinating is to rotate your drone on its vertical axis, so you can capture a great view of the surroundings.
Try to do this very slowly, or the image you capture will be blurry and won’t let you see the best version of your footage.
Practice Shapes Up High
Something that is very fun to do a well is to practice those basic and advanced shapes up high. You can start with the squares and then move to the 8 shape.
Also, something that could help you is to use the headless mode of your drone (if available) because at high altitude it can be hard to distinguish the head of the drone, so to avoid you lose control of it, the headless mode can be helpful.
Of course, you want to be able to control the drone at high altitudes, but again, move progressively towards that and always make sure you operate within safe parameters and do not over test the drone.
OK, here is something you need to know about landing a drone…
It can be done only after taking off, so practicing for it will always be risky.
Why I say this?
So you simply don’t sweat it that much. I mean, start landing sooner than later, and even harder than softer. This is your practice and that is why you got started with a drone such as the X5C.
Now, to successfully land a drone, here is what you have to do.
- Position the drone at the area where you want to land it.
- Slowly start pulling the throttle down, and the drone will start to descend, quicker and quicker.
- When the drone is just a few inches above the ground, push the throttle a bit up to slow the descending movement and allow the drone to “break” and thus soften the landing.
- Once this happens, slowly pull the throttle back down until the aircraft touches the ground.
- Do this over and over until you can do it super gently.
That’s it. Landing is one of the hardest parts to learn and master, but with enough practice you’ll get it right!
Final thoughts on how to fly a drone
I’d like to say that learning to fly a drone is really fantastic. It takes practice, time, and lots of crashes. Don’t worry if you feel you don’t do it right the first time, as that is part of the process.
Something that works 100% of the times for me (and not just with drones) is to go to sleep and come back fresh next time. It is like if your brain absorbs all this information and simply makes it part of its wiring.
Whatever works for you, just make sure of one thing: Have fun doing it!
Drones are supposed to be fun, so definitely enjoy them and whenever you are not enjoying the process simply change it.
All the steps I’ve included here are mere suggestions, for if you can’t find joy while practicing and think you want to go to the extreme and crash you drone until it breaks in pieces, go ahead, just be sure to not hurt others or yourself.
Also, and just in case you are looking for more advanced drones after you practice with the Syma X5C, here are some great suggestions for drones in other budget categories.
You’ll pay a bit more but will also have access to more great features.
I’d really like to know about your learning experience, and if this guide has been helpful to you. That is why the comments section is open for you to express your thoughts.
Also, should you enjoy this piece, do me a great favor by sharing it on your social media channels.
Thanks for spending time here at RC Hobbies on Air and until the next!