Joining the drone community can be a wonderful milestone in your life.
Flying high in the sky, recording the coolest video ever, sharing with fellow pilots, and joining competitions can be exhilarating.
But with every good thing comes a couple of bad. It’s the yin and yang of life. So we brainstormed and came up with the top mistakes pilots make when buying a drone. Hopefully, we can help you avoid some of them.
1. Your Drone is a Better Flyer than You Are
Get the drone that correlates with your experience level. Like everything else in life, start at the bottom and work your way up. Without a solid foundation of flying, you’re guaranteed to crash and burn.
The drone market is flourishing right now. They’re everywhere, and they fit pretty much every budget. So get the drone that can help you practice and hone your piloting skills. Get familiar with it before moving up to a more complicated aircraft. You don’t want to be in a situation where your aircraft flies itself better than you can.
For a beginner, try a Hubsan X4, or a Syma X5C. Intermediate pilots can try out the Parrot AR. Experts have loads of fun with the DJI Phantom models. They all have similar specs, but as your skill level increases, so do the drones capabilities as you move onto the next model.
If you’re just starting out, don’t invest too much until you get some flight hours under your belt. Buying the most expensive quad as your first drone isn’t very smart if you don’t even know how to fly yet. Start cheap and small. Increase your investment as you increase your skills.
And practice your heart out. Taking off and landing are the most difficult moves to learn at first. Master these two moves before trying to flip and do barrel rolls.
2. Buying the Wrong Model
Read the fine print. Know what you want and what you’re actually buying. Lots of quadcopters are ready to fly right out of the box. Some drones require quite a bit of technical expertise and assembly. Connector wires, calibrating the sensors, installing the camera (or replacing it) can drive a pilot crazy if you don’t know what you’re doing.
It’s easy to be excited about buying your new quadcopter. But pay close attention to exactly what it is that you’re buying. Some models are extremely similar, and only have one or two new upgrades. A major complaint from buyers is that they ordered the wrong model and had to return it for the correct one.
3. Being a Victim of a Drone Scam
One kid in the neighborhood buys a drone, and suddenly everyone on the block has one. Demand for drones is getting higher. More and more companies are producing them. The problem is that some companies are legit but others are not.
Do a little detective work about the company you plan on buying from. They should have a professional looking website, customer service support (with a phone number listed), a return policy, a secure payment process such as an SSL certificate, and a license. If this information seems outdated or difficult to locate, it’s probably a fake company.
You saw it, you wanted it, and you bought it. Now where is it? Sellers on sites like eBay or Amazon can be fraudulent, too. Their offers look like the real thing, but then they take your money and never ship the product, but both companies do offer money back guarantees. Check their reviews and selling history before buying from them. If they seem shady, they probably are.
- Vast selection of drones, Batteries, Parts – Amazon.com
- Probably the lowest prices for US buyers – ebay.com
- 80,000 products in stock, great daily deals – Banggood.com
- Chinese retailer with large selection of drones – Gearbest.com
4. Showing Off
You’re a great pilot. Your drone is faster than a speeding bullet and can zip around tall trees with a single flip of the remote control. Showing off your skills to your buddies can really impress them. But showing off too much, or beyond your skill level, can be costly. Crashing an expensive drone is just flushing your money down the toilet.
Don’t buy an expensive drone just to show your friends what a great pilot you think you are. Buy a drone so you can enjoy flying it. Have fun with it, but fly it in a way that you can maintain control of it.
Related: Best beginner drones
Have as much fun as possible with your hobby. Increase your skills and enjoy every ounce of battery life your drone has. Just make sure to use a lot of common sense as you fly. You want your drone to survive today’s flight so it can be around for tomorrow’s new challenges.
…..and what better excuse to show a video of drone crashes
5. Flying in Prohibited Areas
Another mistake drone buyers make is spending a fortune on an aircraft, and then losing it because they broke the law that they didn’t know applied to them.
Laws apply to everything, and that includes drones. With the increase in hobbyists and enthusiasts, more regulations are being developed for drone flying. Make sure you know what laws apply to you before embarking on a flight.
State, city, and local laws are different depending on where you are. Check what laws are applicable in your hometown. Due to safety issues and privacy concerns, new laws are being developed every day.
Flying in crowds, public events, public parks, national landmarks, airports, and all military installations is forbidden no matter where you are. There are exceptions to all of these if you can obtain written permission from the powers that be, of course. Play it safe, and know what the rules are no matter where you decide to fly.
Anti-drone products are already hitting the market. Products are being developed that provide countermeasures that block recording ability. The Federal Aviation Authority predicts that by the year 2020, the skies will be populated with an estimated 30,000 domestic drones. Of course there will be technology created to block their photographic capabilities.
There is a lot of freedom when flying, though, so don’t be discouraged. Designated flying areas are springing up all the time. These are usually wide open, unpopulated, outdoor areas that cater to drone pilots. No fines, penalties, or slaps on the wrist for flying here. And they’re usually free.
6. Invading Your Neighbor’s Privacy
You bought your drone. You love your drone. It’s your new best friend and can do no wrong. But your neighbors may disagree. They may not appreciate your new toy that has video capability buzzing around their backyard or hovering outside their bedroom windows.
The internet is brimming with videos of people smashing drones that fly over their property or come too close to their cars. And they are usually found innocent because it’s an invasion of their privacy. It’s considered to be trespassing on private property. They could even press charges against you.
It’s best to fly your drone in a legal designated flying space.
7. Expecting No Surprises
The key to unhappiness is unpreparedness. Drones crash. All the time. Regardless of skill level, you must accept the fact that you will crash. Take a few precautions to minimize your drone’s downtime.
If there is a lot of air traffic, move to a more isolated area. Make sure the battery is charged so the drone doesn’t die in the sky and drop like a rock. Keep it within your direct line of sight at all times. Watch out for the weather – strong winds could abduct it without any hope of ever finding it again.
8. Having No Spare Parts
Have some spare parts at the ready. They are cheap and usually readily available. Have some on hand ahead of time. Crashes can’t be predicted, so don’t wait until you crash to order replacement parts.
The most common parts that you’ll have to replace are the propellers. Some quadcopter kits come with a couple spares, but if not, order some at the same time you order your kit. You could even nab a discount for bundling at the time of purchase.
Landing gear (the legs of the aircraft) will probably be the next most common. Little tiny screws will be involved in replacing parts so having a little tiny screwdriver – maybe even a magnifying glass – will save tons of time on changing out the parts.
If your quadcopter doesn’t come with any, get some blade guards. They are cheap and easy to install. Again, you’ll need that little screwdriver and lots of patience. They surround each prop individually and protect it from damage in case of a crash. Installing these can save you some headaches and a lot of props.
As simple as this may sound, make sure you have a few extra batteries for the remote controller. A couple packs of rechargeable batteries lying around is never a bad thing.
Everyone makes mistakes. No one is perfect. The key to minimizing those mistakes is to educate yourself ahead of time of what could go wrong. But knowing is half the battle. Keep yourself informed and educated about your drone. Being aware of what could go wrong can help to avoid them going wrong at all.