How to Avoid Immediately Destroying Your New Drone

THE CHALLENGE: Don’t Crash My Drone

Create an app that will enable small drone operators to know more about specific weather parameters, local terrain and no fly zones within a five-mile radius of their GPS location.


With most consumer drones these days, you can head straight out the door and have your new toy in the air in a matter of minutes. And your new toy would probably be in the aironly a matter of minutes.

If you’d prefer your first time flying a drone not to include close up shots of leaves and large amounts of cursing, we suggest taking a deep breath, slowing down, and doing a few things before your maiden flight.

First and foremost, rip into that plastic bag holding the manual and pull it out. Then, actually read the thing. Seriously. Pay special attention to two items. First, memorize the button or sequence of buttons that initiates the drone’s “return home” feature. This varies between manufacturers and models, but newer versions tend to have some kind of single button “oh crap” feature that will send the drone back to where it started. When you’re first learning, this will be your most used flight control. This is also a good place to suggest your consider joining the Academy of Model Aeronautics for $75, which, in addition to a magazine subscription, will get you some basic insurance coverage should you crash.

The second most important part of the manual is the startup procedure. Some drones need the controller turned on first, some the drone itself. Whatever the case with your model, make sure you know the sequence so that your drone can acquire satellites for GPS features and connect to whatever WiFi or flight control system it uses.

Next, update the firmware. Even new drones often leave the factory without the latest updates, and you might be able to get some new features. In most cases, updating the firmware is just a matter of plugging the drone into your PC via a USB cable. Since the process varies by drone, check the manual (again, read the manual) or manufacturer’s website for the precise firmware update method.

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