Best places to learn to fly your drone

Hi, welcome drone pilot! So you just got your new drone. It's exciting; you've attained the proper equipment to get stunning views of scenery, places and get perspectives that most people have never seen in their life. Up in the sky, everything looks a whole lot different.


But where do I fly it? Whether you're a seasoned pilot or someone who just brought home the box for the first time, finding a place to fly can be menacing. With so many different rules and laws to consider, as well as anxiety of flying that comes with operating a whirring loud machine in public, it's not uncommon for pilots to feel the pressure of feeling like you're breaking some law while flying your aircraft, or seeing people around you and wondering "I hope I'm not disturbing anyone." Juggling these thoughts while your expensive piece of equipment is high off the ground can make flying and capturing the footage you want to get even more challenging.

With all this said, I have come to find some places I call "go-to spots," that no matter where I travel to, I can usually rely on them being an excellent spot to fly.

Important: Before you fly the drone, download the FAA's Official B4Ufly app to check if the airspace you plan to fly in is uncontrolled and if you're allowed to fly your drone in that airspace.

Even if you are allowed to take off and operate a drone somewhere, for the drone to be in the air, you must check airspace to see if you're authorized and allowed to fly in that spot.


Parks

Parks that are empty or have an area where you can be away from others are an ideal spot to learn the basic controls of your drone that you have read to practice. First, you can do a quick google search of the park you plan on going to to see if there is any mention of drone use, and on your arrival, look around where postings and rules are posted to see if drone operation is prohibited. If, after all this, you haven't found anything that mentions drones, usually no news is good news in this case. Keep in mind that some local jurisdictions (such as a city or county) ban drone use in all of their parks.


Remember to pick a place where you won't be flying near or around people. Pick an open space with trees that are far away or that has very little trees, and stay away from people and off from walking trails. You wouldn't want to be doing this next to a couple having lunch, for example.

In a park, you can practice maneuvering the drone in a more "controlled" and small area and figure out the handling tendencies of your drone. This is important before you go out into more unpredictable and "free roam" places. For learning the controls of the drone, you want to keep the drone very close to you in a radius are that doesn't go out too far.

Beaches

Similarly to parks, beaches offer a large open area to have a clear visual line of sight with your drone. A beach is usually not the first place you should go for your first flight however. Beaches are very windy, making controlling the drone during take-off and landing especially difficult. In-flight, the motors will have to work harder to resist the wind causing a decrease in battery life.

Pick a spot that is away from people and crowds. To avoid sand getting kicked up into motors or other parts of the drone, take off and land from a paved spot or use a landing pad.

Just like with parks, and any other space, check signs and rules before and upon arrival to see if drones are prohibited, and even if nothing is posted, be mindful of possible disturbance to wildlife.

Parking lots

Parking lots are great for drone pilots of any level. They do come in different shapes and sizes. I'm talking about the parking lots that are medium-sized to large and above. They are great spots because they are a large open space that usually gives plenty of room to take off and land while being away from patrons and a crowd of people and maintaining visual line of sight (VLOS) during your flight. Preference is given to an empty parking lot and one that isn't privately owned, such as:

- Park parking lot

- Beach parking lot

- Rest stop parking lot

These parking lots usually be considered the park/ park grounds and unless otherwise noted, would have the same rules. If the park/grounds don't allow drone operation on the grounds, then the parking lot just outside the park would not be a good spot to fly.

If it is a business parking lot, this is private property, and the business can tell you to not operate it on their property. So if you are to do this, I would recommend only choosing a large parking lot where you can be far away from anyone else, when it is not busy, and where your operation of the drone would not interfere with the business or with anyone else. Also, keep in mind you can ask the business/property owner for permission to take off your drone from their parking lot.

Remember to always be careful for cars driving in the parking lot if there are any, and to steer clear of them.

Fields

A football or soccer field is also great for learning to fly your drone. A large open space with little to no obstacles that you can accidentally crash into. Again, make sure no one is there or using the field first and that there are no rules or postings that say something about drones not being allowed.

Your backyard/property

I wanted to put this last because you probably didn't need anyone to tell you that this is the best spot to learn to fly your drone. Before you fly anywhere else, you should take off, do some basic maneuvering, and land, at the very least, on your property. The last thing you would want to do is go somewhere else and fly for the first time when you haven't seen it in flight before while the control is in your hands.

In conclusion, here are some essential things to remember:

  1. Stay clear of people.

  2. Keep the drone flying close.

  3. Pick a large open space.

  4. Even if a park has nothing posted specifically mentioning drone use, look at other things prohibited and see if what you will be doing would be something that would be insinuated as not allowed based on the rules.

  5. Educate yourself on all aspects of the drone and its operation and controls before you take off.

Safety is always number one. Improving your skills at the controls is the only way you will gain the skills and knowledge that will allow you to safely operate the drone out in the world at these incredible and beautiful locations. You are the pilot in command, after all!

Thank you for reading! To learn more about beginner drone operation, please check out my other posts and stay tuned to new ones by subscribing!


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