Become a member of any drone forum or Facebook group, and you’ll quickly notice a pattern. Someone posted that they had bought a drone, and a few days later, that same person posted that they had crashed or lost their drone.
I see this a lot every day.
Which is very sad, in part because the main reason for this is operator error. It can most likely be avoided by following a few simple tips.
I’ve traveled several hundred miles with a range of drones (both large and small) over the years, and so far (wood roads), I’ve never had a drone crash or fly. I put this in part on having – and after – a comprehensive pre-flight checklist.
This checklist can help prevent issues that put drone operators in trouble:
- Check the weather, especially for high winds and winds (your guide should tell you the maximum safe wind speed for your drone)
- If you’re new to drone flying, learn about the drone and its controls before takeoff, and take some short training flights to get used to taking off and landing.
- Check for damage to the drone before each flight, especially the propellers (replace any showing signs of damage) and batteries (check for bulges)
- If you have replaced the propellers, double check that you have installed the correct propellers (different angles of the plane will take different propellers)
- Charge everything before the flight
- Remove any gimbal or fan guards
- Turn on the remote control before turning on the drone (this is much safer than turning on the drone first)
- Allow the drone to have a GPS lock before takeoff (check your manual on how to check this, note that some drones will not allow takeoffs to occur unless the drone has a good GPS lock)
- Take off in a clear area, away from trees and building can fly drones (drones can be a bit erratic on initial takeoff, so give them space)
- Let the drone hover about 2 to 3 meters (6 to 10 feet) for 30 seconds to stabilize, warm up the battery if it’s cold, and to fix the launch position in case it needs to make an emergency Back home (DJI’s will tell you it’s done home point update”)
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- Keep the drone within visible line of sight (VLOS), or in other words, make sure you can see the drone at all times
- It is always a good idea to travel to a destination in the wind; This way, the wind will help get the drone back (do it the other way, and the drone’s battery can run out before you get home)
- Keep in mind the little things, like tree branches and cables, that your drone’s obstacle avoidance system might not be able to detect
- If the drone says it needs to go home for any reason, bring it back immediately
- When landing, make sure the landing area is clear and there is enough space around the landing area in case the drone is erratic close to the ground
- After landing, turn off the drone first, followed by the controller
- Check the plane for any damage