You spent weeks reading reviews. You finally pulled the trigger and now your new drone is on the way. You are excited and want to fly, but there are plenty of things to be done when your new drone finally arrives. Have patience, take your time and do this right to save yourself aggravation, time and money. Do this right, or you just may lose your first flight.
We all know that feeling of waiting for that new mail order “thing”. The checking the tracking site every few hours to once you finally get the tracking code. You’ve gone through this enough times to be aware of what town it has to be checked in at to know it’s only a day away. Going to bed that night feeling like it’s Christmas Eve you finally get to sleep with images of Amazon boxes dancing in your head.
The next morning comes and it is torture. Every loud engine coming down the street warrants a peek out the window. The smallest ‘thump’ requires you to open the door and check the porch. The waiting becomes unbearable, the clock actually stops between 11:30 and 2:00. Then it happens! The low rumble of a diesel engine, the squeal of brakes and the engaging of air brakes unmistakably right in front of the house. It’s here! You wait for the delivery driver to drop off the package at the door and drive away… it’s here.
Slow down! Don’t rip her out of the box and fly just yet, champ. There are plenty of things to be done first. There were even things you could’ve been doing while waiting for the UPS truck.
Youtube has a wealth of information on just about any drone you can think of. Everything from unboxings to first flights. I use my time waiting for my new treasures watching these videos. You can glean quite a bit of information from Youtube and I suggest you use it.
READ THE MANUAL! There, I said it. You didn’t want to hear it, but you had to. It can be pretty damn difficult to read them when your shiny new drone is sitting there in all its glory begging you, pleading with you, imploring you to fly her. Manuals MUST be read before your first flight. You need to know all about your new toy before you ever fly it. The last thing you want is to watch her fly majestically into a tree all because you didn’t know you had to set a Return To Home altitude. So, take the time and read the manual. Check the the manufacturers website while waiting for your delivery. A lot of manufacturers have their manuals online these days in PDF format. So get it, check it, learn it.
When you open the box, pay attention to how everything is arranged as you take it out in the dreadful event that you have to return it for any reason. Sadly, this happens.
Top the battery off. While it is charging take a quick look at your local laws to see if you need to register. If you are in the USA and it weighs more than .55 lbs and you don’t plan to use your drone in a commercial capacity, you will need to register. I know, you’re thinking pffft, who cares? Well, you should. If you get caught you’ll pay the price. It’s not hard to register, and it’s very cheap. Remember, if you are registering as a hobbyist you only need to register yourself, not the drone. So your registration is good for all drones below 55 lbs. If you want to use it commercially, that is a whole other ball of wax and you will need to abide by the law and get a Part 107 license. Check out the FAA site for registering unmanned aerial systems. Please, do yourself the favor.
Find out if there is an airport within 5 miles of your testing area. If so, you might want to think again or try to get permission. I will be writing a post soon on different airspace types and how to get permission. Trust me, it is not worth getting hassled by the man over flying your drone in controlled airspace. Just respect the laws, ok?
The biggest tip I can give you is this… ready for it? Fly in a wide open space. Not only do you have to remain in the line of sight anyway according to FAA rules, it just makes sense. You don’t want to fly your drone up over that tree and drop right into a telephone line and go careening into old Wilson’s pond. Isn’t that right, Bill?
Now, this one might seem like a real bummer but trust me, you just might want to take me up on it. If you just got your $400 drone and it’s your first one you might want to think of shelving it for the time being and getting yourself a $85 drone to practice with. I know more than one person who lost their new drone solely because they were inexperienced pilots. Go on amazon, find yourself a halfway decent drone, and order her up. Remember to read reviews. Don’t worry, ill post my thoughts on some lower cost drones that would be great candidates for novice pilots.
Trust me, I know how excited you can be waiting for that drone to come in. Just do the right thing, take your time and learn everything you can before taking her out. Trust me, your patience will pay for itself in spades, while your impatience can easily slap you in the face.