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

Just-got-a-drone-the-guide-on-what-to-do-next

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?

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 about how to… fly a drone, what all the drone terms mean, what the drone rules are, what apps you should download, whether or not you have to register your drone, where you can you go for help and what are some recommended resources/gear.

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 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?

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.

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 on the registration process:

More info on the drone rules can be found here on the FAA’s website for registering your drone.

 

 

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 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 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.

For those flying outside the U.S. check out these links for what the drone rules are in countries around the world:

 

 

 

3) Always walkthrough 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 curious to know what drone terms like FPV, R/C, RTF 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 recommend 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 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.

 

If you’re flying a DJI drone and want to know 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 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 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.

Aerial Post-Production 101 course – this training course features nearly 6 hours of lectures on shooting, editing a rough cut, transitions, coloring, music and case studies.

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. This is the course that I personally used and I highly recommend it.

 


 

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

Getting Started: How to edit your photos in Adobe Lightroom

31 Essential Tips For Creating Epic Drone Videos

The 10 Best Places to Post Your Drone Photos & Videos

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

 

 

 

 

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

@echeng – awesome drone pilot and former Director of Aerial Imaging at DJI

@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 

@gabscanu = epic imagery of Australia

@michutravel = epic imagery from all over the world

@gavman18 = epic imagery of South Africa

@safesolvent = epic aerial selfies

@mvernicos = epic imagery of Greece

@airpixels = epic imagery of Sweden

@dylan.schwartz = epic imagery of Southern California

@littlecoal = epic imagery of Ohio

@saltywings = epic imagery of Australia

@iherok = epic imagery of Dubai

@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 ;)

 

 

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 launch pad helps keep your camera lens clean during take off and landing.

UAV Coach Drone Pilot Ground School

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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.

 

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2017 Christmas Drone Gift Guide

7 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.

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