Just got a new drone? Here is my guide to everything you need to know to get started!



Did you just get a new drone?! Are you wondering what things you need to know to get started in this hobby?

Do you wish there was a drone guide to walk you through each step of everything you need to know? Then this is the page for you.

First off though, I would like to take a quick moment to welcome you to the #fromwhereidrone family!

…now if you’re anything like I was when I first started in this hobby then you probably have a bunch of questions.

Chances are you probably have some questions like…

• How do you fly a drone?

• What do all the drone terms mean?

• What are the drone rules?

• What apps you should download?

• Do you have to register your drone even if you are just using it for fun?

• What are some recommended resources/gear?

• Where you can you go for answers to your drone questions?


Or maybe you’re wondering how the DJI Go app works or who some industry leaders are that you should follow or you may just want to view some amazing aerial inspiration.

Well if so then you are in the right place!

I’ve designed this post with you in mind since I know I would have appreciated a resource just like this when I first got started.

So take a look below and if there is anything I missed or if you still have a question then feel free to leave a comment or reach out to me via my contact page.

Happy flying!


1) Do you need to register your drone?

Well it depends. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires you to register your aircraft if it weighs between 0.55 lbs. (250 grams) and up to 55 lbs. (25 kg).

If you got a little mini-drone then chances are you are just fine and don’t need to register it.

However, if you got something a bit bigger, then you definitely do.

You can register your drone via the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) OFFICIAL website for registering your drone.

IMPORTANT NOTE: DO NOT use any other website to register your drone. If you do it is likely some type of scam (see the comment section down below). There is no need to use a 3rd party website to register your drone.

This means you need to register your drone before you fly it to avoid any Civil or Criminal penalties.

The simple online application takes less than 5 minutes and will cost you $5.

Once you receive your identification number it must be visually placed on all the drones you operate.

Here is a video tutorial I record for you to see how to go through the drone registration process:



2) What are the drone rules?

When I first started flying there weren’t any clearly stated rules for flying a drone so it was kinda like the wild wild west.

But times have certainly changed and it’s important to be informed about what you can and cannot do with your drone.

To learn more about this I wrote an entire post you should check out on what the drone rules are.

But here is a quick summary:

♦ Do not fly your drone higher than 400 feet

Your drone must be in eyesight (line-of-sight) at all times (when possible, I think it’s a great idea to have a spotter assist you while flying)

Stay at least 5 miles away from any airports, otherwise be sure to contact the airport or control tower to get special permission (criminal penalties for endangering an aircraft range up to a $25,000 fine & jail time)

Don’t fly over groups of people or  near stadiums or racetracks during an event such as the Superbowl or Indianapolis 500

Don’t fly in National Parks like the Grand Canyon or Yosemite (otherwise you may face six months of imprisonment and/or a $5,000 fine)

Always fly at least 25 feet away from people and don’t fly over unprotected crowds

♦ Beware of No Fly Zones and don’t fly near sensitive infrastructure or property such as government facilities, water treatment facilities, power stations, correctional facilities, heavily traveled roads or freeways, etc…

Don’t fly or photograph people in places where there is an expectation of privacy without the individual’s permission

Don’t fly near fires (otherwise, you could get a fine up to $25,000)

You can’t make money with your drone until you obtain a FAA Part 107 license. Click the following link for more info on what the Part 107 certificate is and how to study for the exam.

Long banner part 107

I encourage you to memorize those rules and keep them handy so that you can help keep people and our hobby safe and out of the news!

For even more info on this subject check out the Know Before You Fly website.

Also be sure to look up the local drone rules in the area you are flying. Some cities, counties and states feel the FAA isn’t going far enough and they have enacted their own rules that go beyond what the FAA has established. If that sounds confusing, you are not alone. Hopefully things will one day be more straightforward but for now this is what we are stuck with.


What are the rules for flying a drone internationally?

For those flying outside the U.S. check out this super helpful Master List of International Drone Rules to learn about what the drone rules are in other countries around the world.



3) Always walk through a drone flight checklist

If you would like, click the following link and I’ll immediately send you my free drone pre-flight checklist straight to your inbox.

Are you curious to know what drone terms like FPV, R/C, RTF, FAA and compass calibration mean? Then check out this quick reference guide of Drone Terminology.



4) Figure out where you can & cannot fly

Airmap drone no fly zones

For obvious reasons, you want to keep your drone from flying near any sensitive, restricted or highly secured areas.

Therefore, I recommend Airmap.io which is a website that allows drone pilots to see No Fly Zones and visualize the airspace around them to determine where they are permitted to fly.

Once you do that I recommend you find a big, wide open safe-to-fly field that doesn’t have any nearby obstacles like power lines, trees, etc…

Side note: if you’re looking for a fantastic tool for capturing imagery from the area then check out my post How to find awesome photography locations.




5) Learn to fly!

To start, I like to recommend getting really comfortable flying a toy drone that you can crash a lot before taking a chance on something expensive.

I personally started with the SYMA X1.

I also highly recommend practicing using a drone flight simulator. If you have a DJI drone then you can use the built-in flight simulator on the DJI GO app.

There’s only two types of drone pilots: those who have crashed and those who will.

From there you then just gotta get your confidence up which will only come with lots and lots of practice!

I wrote an entire post to help you out on this called: How to Fly a Drone: The Ultimate Guide.

Or if you prefer, down below is my video tutorial on the same topic where I discuss what yaw, throttle, pitch and roll are and I show you how to practice my favorite 6 drone flying exercises to help you get more confident and comfortable with flying.


If you’re flying a DJI drone and want to know more about the DJI Go app, then check out this written Step-by-Step Guide Through Every Menu & Button or view the video below:



6) Online places to find help

If you have a specific drone-related question, here are several great places on the web to get help:

DJI Forum

PhantomPilots Forum

DIY Drones Forum

Yuneec Pilots Forum

From Where I Drone FB Page




7) Helpful resources & courses you should check out

Aerial Photography and Videography Using Drones This is my favorite drone book. It serves as an excellent field guide to all things drone-related with a gear guide, drone setup instructions, flying techniques, tips and tricks for capturing aerial photos and videos and lots of inspiring photos and the stories behind the images.

The Complete Guide to Drones – This book does a deep dive into everything you need to know about drone terminology, R/C settings, drone parts, how to build a drone and how to fly a drone.

Rotor Drone Magazine – This is my favorite drone magazine. I always look forward to getting each issue.


Beginner Drone Photography with Dirk Dallas

This is my personal CreativeLive drone course which explains how to get more comfortable flying a drone, maneuvers to practice that will improve your skills, how to multitask flying your drone and capture what you see through your camera, settings, techniques, and resources to help you become a comfortable drone pilot. I also do some post-processing techniques, including importing images & footage into Adobe Lightroom & Premiere where I show some tips on color correction/color grading. www.creativelive.com




Drone Master Class

My buddy Jay Worsley is an award-winning filmmaker & photographer. Jay launched a new drone cinematography focused course called Drone Master Class for those looking to up their drone game. I recommend this course to pilots who already have some experience. I also personally recorded a few lessons for ‘Drone Master Class’ which means fresh new content from me with be shared each quarter. You can use promo code “FWID” for $50 off the course! Check it out here: www.dronemasterclass.com


Drone Pilot Ground School: Part 107 Prep Course 

If you’re looking to start making money with your drone then you’ll need to pass the FAA’s Part 107 exam to become a commercially licenses drone pilot. This is the course that I personally used and I highly recommend it. You can use promo code “DIRKA” for $50 off this course. www.dronepilotgroundshool.com



8) Drone apps you should check out

UAV Forecast (free) – See the weather forecast, GPS satellites, solar activity (Kp), No-Fly Zones and flight restrictions, all in one convenient tool.

AirMap (free) – This app provides information about where you can and cannot fly. Plus if you are flying within 5 miles of an airport you can get the contact info for the nearby airport so you can notify them that you are flying in the area.

SKRWT ($1.99) – This app allows you to correct the horizontal and vertical distortion that is commonly found in drone imagery.

Click the following link to see my complete list of drone-related app recommendations.




9) Tutorials you should watch

8 Tips for Better Drone Photography

7 Simple Yet Amazing Cinematic Drone Shots You Must Master

31 Essential Tips For Creating Epic Drone Videos

The 10 Best Places to Post Your Drone Photos & Videos

The Best Tips for Flying Your Drone in Cold Weather

How to Do Time Remapping or Speed Ramps in Adobe Premiere Pro CC

How to create an aerial panorama with a drone using Adobe Lightroom

Cinematography Tutorial: Advanced Filming Techniques & Editing Effects for Your Drone Videos





10) Websites you should bookmark

TheDroneGirl.com – publishes aerial photos, videos, stories and commentary about the drone industry.

UAVCoach.com – A community of drone enthusiasts who share company reviews and flying and aerial videography tips.

 DroneBusinessMarketer.com – teaches professional pilots how to grow their businesses.

 sUASnews.com – reports on drone news to keep you informed of this industry.

 FromWhereIDrone.com (of course!) – My website features weekly drone tutorials and drone photo/video inspiration. If you’re not sure where to begin check out this Start Here Page.


11) Twitter accounts you should follow

@dronelaws – fascinating insights on drone news and laws

@TheDroneGirl – timely commentary on drone news

@DroneLawPro – another for fascinating insights on drone news and laws

@DroneRadioShow – thee drone podcast

@UAVCoach – timely drone news and articles

@DroneLaw_SC – another for fascinating insights on drone news and laws

@fromwhereidrone – follow my account for drone photography & cinematography tips, tutorials, news & inspiration



12) Instagram accounts you should follow 

@fromwhereidrone = I use this account to feature inspiring imagery from people all around the world who using the #fromwhereidrone hashtag

@dirka= follow my personal account if you would like ;)

@dailyoverview= awesome top downs



13) Get inspired by some aerial legends

If you’re looking to learn from some of the best out there then check out these interviews I’ve done with some amazing aerial photographers:

• Interview with Amos Chapple – Amos is a freelance photographer who has traveled through 67 countries. He is a regular contributor to the Guardian, The Atlantic, and Italian Vanity Fair.

• Interview with Kyle Kuiper – Kyle is a professional photographer based out of San Diego, California. He creates amazing drone photos/videos and has almost 1,000,000 followers on Instagram.

• Interview with Gabriel Scanu – Gabriel is a 20 year old drone pilot based in Sydney, Australia and is one of the best aerial photographers I know.

• Interview with Tommy Clarke – Tommy is a professional aerial photographer based out of London. He has an incredible portfolio of work and he holds aerial photo exhibitions all around the world.


14) Software & Gear

You’re going to need some software to edit your photos and videos. There are a whole bunch of options out there but I personally use:

Adobe Lightroom – for organizing and editing all my photos. If you don’t know much about Lightroom, check out my big Getting Started With Lightroom tutorial or watch the video below.

Adobe Photoshop – for doing final touches on my photos

Adobe Premiere – for editing my videos

If you’re looking for some other ways to edit your video footage then check out this post 5 Useful Tools for Drone Videography Post-Processing.



Me with some of my drone stuff


Finally, while the following are not immediately needed these are some of the gear/accessories I recommend to drone pilots:

Polar Pro Lens – These are great for drone pilots who want to capture better looking aerial photos and videos.


Manfrotto MB BP-D1 Drone Backpack – This thing can hold my drone, a bunch of batteries, my iPad, laptop and DSLR camera. I’ve taken this thing all over the world and it performs like a champ!


Repair & Hobby Tool Set – This kit provides you with the basic tools for any quick repairs that you might need to do when you are out flying.


SanDisk Extreme PRO SD Card – These are hands down my favorite microSD cards because they have the fastest read/write speeds of all the microSD cards I have tested.


iPhone Micro SD Card Reader– This card reader lets you read/transfer content from your microSD card right on your iPhone or iPad.


Hoodman Drone Launch Pad – This easy to setup drone launchpad helps keep your camera lens clean during takeoff and landing.

UAV Coach Drone Pilot Ground School

(use promo code “DIRK50” for $50 off!)

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Have a question or comment? Feel free to contact me directly at [email protected] or just drop a comment down below.

About this site
dirk dallas @dirka Instagram---bio-pic
Dirk Dallas, also known online as @dirka, is the founder and curator of From Where I Drone, a blog dedicated to inspiring and teaching drone pilots how to capture better aerial photos and videos.


Please note that some of links on this page are affiliate links which means that any purchases made as a result of clicking on a link will help support this website at no additional charge to you! Thanks so much for your help in this way!!


32 Comments on “Just got a new drone? Here is my guide to everything you need to know to get started!

  1. When you register your Drone the cost is $25.00 for 3 years which is more than the $5.00 quoted in the article.

  2. Pingback: The Top 25 Drone Videos of the Year (2016) -

  3. hi i have a dji drone and i found this page very helpful thankyou. i have one question i have another trogan drone which works via wi-fi i lost the instruction book so i dont know what app i need for it or if it needs one,ive trolled the www looking for the drone itself only on ebay is there one,but unless i find the app im stuck with a drone i cant fully use it flies but i cant use the camera

  4. Excellent guide for beginners and for those who are not so new. You have a lot of good information and resources and I appreciate all the work you put into this.

  5. When you register your drone with the FAA watch out for bogus web sites pretending to be official drone registration sites. I found out over a year after falling for one of these scams (they got my $5) that I was NOT registered with the FAA and my reg number was not even close to what the FAA uses. Make sure when you sign up you go to a .gov address and not some imposter.

  6. Really nice & helpful article! thanks for sharing with us.

  7. Fantastic post! As a beginners drone interesting tips share by this blog. thanks!

  8. Interesting guidelines you have share here for how the drones work! thanks for nice post.

  9. To the beginner, finding a drone may seem a bit overwhelming. Once you are aware of the rules and regulations,then easy to choose your drone. thanks for fantastic points!

  10. current uses for drones and the potential future uses are endless. Aside from being fun to fly they are also used for aerial photography, delivering medical supplies, counting cattle, land surveying, crowd monitoring, the media, recreational sport, military applications and much more!

  11. Interesting guidelines you have share here for how the drones work! Today, drones are being used in agriculture, disaster relief and management, traffic management, etc.

  12. Awesome facts contain this article! current uses for drones and the potential future uses are endless. Aside from being fun to fly they are also used for aerial photography, delivering medical supplies, counting cattle, land surveying, crowd monitoring, the media, recreational sport, military applications and much more.(In several countries drones have been used by the media)

  13. Drone technology is changing so fast and there are new drones with new features every year. Once you are aware of the rules and regulations,then easy to choose your drone.

  14. Great suggestion! Drones used to capture amazing action shots under intense conditions – anywhere from the Arctic to mountain peaks & many action done by drone. Amazing post!

  15. Just read the shared story before going to buy a a drone for any reasons newly. I am sure that you will gather much valuable information that much needs to do. Very helpful where i known some important point. Thanks to make it visible to all

  16. Hey Dirk Dallas

    very useful infromation. learned a lot . this guide helps me to buy drone with proper way.

    what no to do when i am flying a drone?

    off to share on twitter

  17. really very informative article thanks for sharing and provide very valuable knowledge for us.

  18. really helpful article for Drone Lovers..I’m a Drone enthusiast and already have a couple of mid range drones. I recently relocated a place which is near the airport and am a bit confused if I can fly Drones here or not. The Distance from home to airport is 5+ Kms by road but the aerial distance looks much lesser as we can see the runway from far..What are exact rules for mid-range Drones in airport vicinity?

  19. The Mavic 2 Pro is great for professional photographers, videographers, and content creators. Its portable design makes it an essential companion for travel bloggers, documentary compilers, and commercial drone pilots in any industry.


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