It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s the awesome new drone you finally talked yourself into buying! The temptation of stunning aerial footage is too much for most filmmakers to stand. If you haven’t purchased your first drone yet, you probably will soon. The technology has reached cinematic quality and the footage coming from drones these days can make your jaw drop.
But, nothing is ever as easy as it looks. Learning to fly a drone well takes practice and finesse, and it’s all too easy to crash and burn as a beginner. This guide will help you get your drone skills off the ground safely to protect your investment in a sweet quadcopter.
Part 1: Regulations
Before taking your bird to the skies, make sure you’re following drone regulations. Restrictions vary by country—here’s an overview of U.S. rules for commercial use. Rules for hobbyists are somewhat less restrictive.
- Keep the drone in your line of sight (LOS).
- Only operate during daylight or twilight.
- You must be at least 16 years old to fly a drone.
- Do not exceed 100 MPH or 400 feet in altitude
- You must have a “remote pilot airman certificate” issued by the FAA.
- Do not fly in restricted air space, like within 5 miles of an airport.
- Register your drone with the FAA.
If you plan to travel with your drone, here are a few important things to know.
- Any drone with lithium batteries must be taken on the plane as a carry-on item. These batteries can catch fire if checked as baggage.
- Most airlines are now familiar with drones and will not bother you for carrying them on a plane. If you are asked to check your drone, make sure to remove all the batteries and keep them with you in-flight.
- Drain your batteries before flying with them to minimize any risk of combustion.
- Check the local drone regulations of any country you visit.
Part 2: Preparing to Fly
You’ll want to run through a prep checklist and complete training before you attempt takeoff. Here are a few tutorials that we recommend. These focus on the DJI Phantom because it tends to be the industry standard for shooting stock footage.
DJI Phantom 4: Your First Day
DJI Tutorials – Phantom 4 – How to Fly – Part 1 of 5
DJI Phantom 4 FULL Instruction
Part 3: Improve Your Technique
5 Drone Shooting Tips: How-to Film Awesome Aerial Shots
How to Capture Epic Aerial Footage with your Drone
Mastering Drone Footage – Shooting Tips
Phantom 4 Drone Greatest Feature
While you build up your drone flying muscles, you can get inspired by all the aerial footage in our library. It costs a lot less than a DJI Phantom 4 and has been captured by pros from around the world.
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