You got a new drone. You love it. But what do you do now? How do you make the most of it and take the next step into this wonderful craft? There are plenty of used drones sitting in closets and eventually put on Facebook Marketplace that only flew a few times. They were cool at first. But then the new owner did not know what to do. Nor did he know where to fly it. Don’t be that guy. In this post, I will share 10 things to do when you get a drone to make the most of it. I want to help you figure out what to do next. I will share my experience and what helped me take this new adventure to the next level.
When I got my Mavic Mini, I got the base package. That provided me only 20 minutes of flight time with a single battery. Get more batteries to give you more flight time. It is a bummer to fly in an incredibly scenic location and get less than a half-hour of flight time.
There are a bunch of other little accessories to consider. Get a spare controller cable. On one of my first adventures, I drove 45 minutes to realize I was missing the cable to connect my iPhone to the controller. Lesson learned. Now I always have a spare cable on hand.
Another one of my favorite accessories is an adapter that allows me to connect an iPad to the controller. It makes for a better experience flying with a larger screen.
2. Learn the Basic Safety Requirements
If you are flying a drone that is more than 0.55lbs, you will need to register it with the FAA. You can do so at faadronezone.faa.gov. The Mavic Mini and Mini 2 do not need to be registered. But it is still good to check out the rules for flying.
3. Get Refresh or Insurance
If this is your first drone, it is easy to crash. I have crashed mine a few times and am fortunate I have not broken it. DJI Refresh will repair or replace your drone if you have an unfortunate experience. But keep in mind that they do not cover lost drones.
You might also consider looking into insurance. State Farm has policies that cover drones. You can still make a claim even if you lose your drone.
All this gives you peace of mind when you are flying. You don’t want to be flying your drone, fearful of breaking it after investing a substantial sum of money. Even the most careful pilots can crash.
4. Explore YouTube
Watch some YouTube reviews on your drone. See what others are doing with it. Learn how to fly it. There is no end to what you can find on YouTube. While you are at it, subscribe to my YouTube Channel.
5. Find Big Open Spaces
I live in the most densely populated state in the US. Big open spaces are harder to come by. But take your drone where you will be away from people. It doesn’t need to be a particularly scenic location. Just find a place where you can test out your drone and learn to fly it. Try new things in a place you are comfortable flying it.
Our church property is 16 acres, so many of my first flights were on the property when no one else was around. I also visited my grandparent’s Midwestern farm in Illinois that is 240 acres. It gave me wide open spaces to find out what my drone was capable of. I wasn’t too concerned about crashing in empty cornfields.
6. Meet Others Who Share Your Enthusiasm
Most people will not share your newfound passion. And you will probably bore them talking about drones all the time. So make sure to find some other people who share your enthusiasm.
There are many groups and forums that you can find online. Mavicpilots.com was one that I found. I also joined a couple different Facebook groups.
But you don’t want to limit yourself to online groups. It is good to find other people in your area that you can meet up with face-to-face (socially distanced). I found a group called the Jersey Droners on meetup.com. The Droners fly at different scenic locations around our state every Saturday.
Joining up with the Droners is probably the single best thing I did when I got my new drone. It helped me find some great places to fly and allowed me to talk shop with others who are into all this. Make sure to check out my last mission with the Jersey Droners at the Asbury Park Boardwalk.
7. Choose Photo or Video
A big part of flying a drone is the camera. I had found that many of the people I have met who are into drones were into photography and videography before they got into drones.
If you are coming from one of those worlds, you already know your purpose. But if you don’t know, I would suggest that you decide to use your camera drone for video or photography. Focus on learning one or the other. There is no reason you can’t do both. But I find it much easier to be focused on one discipline and not spread myself too thin. I am personally focused on video. I may snap an occasional photo, but it is rare. Someday I may get into more photography, but for now, I want to master video.
8. Create Something
What brings me the most satisfaction is crafting a video from my flight experience. Recognize that we all start somewhere. You may feel like your photos or videos don’t measure up to the work of others. But they have probably been at it for a longer time than you. Make something you can be proud of.
Explore the different available tools. I use Final Cut on my Mac to edit the videos. But there are many other tools out there. But you will definitely want to edit the photos and videos you take with your drone.
9. Share & Share Again
Create a new YouTube Channel. Share your pics on Facebook. Post them in online forums. And don’t be afraid to solicit feedback. That is how we improve — by learning what we could have done differently.
10. Take a Course
I am currently studying for my Part 107 commercial drone pilot license. You can probably watch a few YouTube videos and do a little reading to pass the exam. But I want to do more than pass the exam. I want to be a responsible and knowledgeable pilot. I signed up for the Pilot Institute Part 107 Made Easy Course. The Pilot Institute has other courses too designed to help you become a better pilot and learn more about your drone.
You don’t need a license to fly your drone if you are doing it purely for the enjoyment of it. But if you use it for any commercial endeavor, you need to have a license. I have used the drone to make videos for our church. This is a gray area because if my intent is to make “promotional” videos, I am no longer using my drone purely for enjoyment. At least, that is how the FAA looks at it. I figure that having my license will eliminate any gray area and potentially allow me to do other things for my drones.
Get your next drone. At the least, take a look at what you might get. Maybe you have had your drone for a while, and you are starting to learn the limitations of that drone. My Mavic Mini does not perform well in the wind. And there are some limitations to the camera, like no 4K video. I am looking forward to the rumored DJI Air 2s as an upgrade.
Your 10 Things To Do When You Get A Drone?
So, what about you? What suggestions would you make for a new drone owner? Share in the comments below. And what do you think of my 10 things to do when you get a drone? Do you agree with these things? What has helped you to make the most of this most excellent pastime?