Drone Flying Tips

drone flying tipsThere are plenty of resources that provide drone flying tips and how to get the best out of your product and how to develop the skills needed to use it and enjoy it fully.  Some of the more obvious places are listed below.

DJI Phantom Quadcopters

  • Product manuals. Read and study the Quick Start Guide, the User Manual, and the Pilot Guide. Study the explanations and illustrations in these documents and follow the exercises. Practice whenever you can and master each technique before moving on to the next.
  • DJI Innovations videos. These are instructional, informative, and inspirational. Check out the DJI website for these.
  • DJI Wiki pages. These pages contain a wealth of technical detail as well as user guidance. Go to the Wiki home page and click on Ready-To-Fly Aircraft.
  • Register your product. While you’re on the DJI website, register your product and you’ll obtain support easily should you need it.

FAQ about Phantoms

Secondary Sources of Information

Forums, social media, and other sources of amateur clips, tips, and advice can be useful but they can also contain a lot of inaccurate information and false rumours. You should always use your DJI product manual and the DJI.com website as your main source of information and advice.

  • User forums. There are several multirotor drone user forums out there. One mainly for UK flyers is DJIGuys.com.
  • Social Media. You’ll find lots of groups on Facebook including DJI Phantom Owners UK.
  • Owner videos. There are thousands of clips on both YouTube and Vimeo uploaded by Phantom owners keen to share the results of their experiments and experience. They range in quality from poor to excellent. The best of them can be very instructional and there are some that are professionally made guides. Some other clips contain suggestions about modifications to your Phantom but be advised that you may void any warranty on your product if you decide to make any modifications to it.

Pre-flight Checks for Phantom Pilots

Your Phantom may be an unmanned aircraft but it’s still an aircraft and you, the pilot, should think and act like a pilot. Apart from the obvious safety and legal aspects you wouldn’t want to lose or damage your beloved Phantom!

  • Check the weather. What’s the current and what’s the forecast? What’s the wind speed and direction?
  • Check the airspace. Are you familiar with this location? What classification is the airspace around it?
  • Check the flying zone. Are there any obstacles e.g. trees, buildings, wires etc?
  • Check your equipment. Is your phone, tablet, or WiFi extender charged? Does your transmitter have adequate battery power?
  • Check the aircraft. Is the battery sufficient for the flight? Is the airframe and are the propellers undamaged and secure?
  • Check your orientation. Have you established the Home Point? Which way is the aircraft facing?
  • Check your GPS lock. How many satellites has your Phantom located?
  • Check the control inputs. Immediately after take off do all the controls respond as expected and does the aircraft move in each axis as it should?

Some may think these checklists are too detailed and unnecessary for amateur flyers, but if your Phantom flying ever develops into something professional you will be glad that you’ve established these habits early on in your career.

Pre flight checksGPS Satellite Lock

The technology that the DJI Phantoms easy to fly and enables it to fly back to the Home Point if it loses transmitter signal relies upon GPS. The manual says that you should not rely on GPS when your drone has located less than 6 satellites. In other words, the more satellites your drone has located, the more reliable the GPS will be. However, you should be prepared to take over at any time should the GPS fail for any reason. If GPS fails the drone will maintain its altitude but it will not maintain its position and it will be carried by the wind without control inputs from the pilot. This is one of the reasons the advice and the regulations say that you should fly with it in line of site (LOS) at all times, and you need to concentrate so that you remain aware of its orientation at all times.

One of the reasons why GPS isn’t reliable 100% of the time is the interference caused by solar flares which have an impact on space weather. You don’t need to understand the science behind (although it may help if you did), but it can help to make use of freely available apps to check on things like the current Kp-index. If this is less than 5 on any day then GPS should be functioning normally, but if it’s greater than 5 then the GPS service could be affected. Here are two apps that check the space weather status. Others are available so search for alternatives.