Every year more people, companies and institutions are taking advantage of the advances of drone technology. As the number of drones is increasing, so are the number of laws, regulations and recommendations to promote the good use of drones.
Businesses are using drones to expand their services, institutions want to increase the quality of life of their citizens (presumably), and people, generally, just want to have fun. Whatever is the reason, here are some recommendations so you can use your drone in the safest possible way.
First I have a very unpopular recommendation: Read the manual.
I know how hard it can be, but once you have your drone you need to take it easy and not fly it right away. This is a new technology and even if you are familiarized with drones you can not risk your investment just because you are too lazy to read the instructions. It will take you only a few minutes to read at least what you consider the most important parts so you can be sure that you fully understand how to operate it.
Laws and regulations
Another important aspect is to obey the laws and regulations of the zone in which you plan to fly your drone. They vary depending on where you are, but in general terms they are very much alike. Most of the regulations talk about how high your drone can go. The FAA stipulates that a drone can not go higher than 120m (400 feet).
A different limitation to flying your drone is not how high but where you can take it. There are certain areas where it is forbidden to fly a drone. An example is within 5 miles of an airport. You can not fly a drone over people or vehicles because this could be considered as a risk for both and you will be liable for any damage caused for your drone. The smart way is to get informed about the regulations and the zones where the drone is to be used.
Do not lose sight
Another important safety advice (and a law as a matter of fact) is that you fly your drone only as far as you can see it and no further than that. I do not think that I should even explain this, but just to be sure here it goes: Losing sight of your drone can be really dangerous for people on the ground as well as costly you should lose your drone completely. If you can not see your drone there's a chance you can lose communication with the controller and lose complete control. Although many drones have 'return to safety' capability which allows them to return to their starting point, it is still advised not to venture so far so that you lose sight of your drone.
When to fly?
Checking the weather can help determine when there's a good or a bad time to fly them. Although some drones show no problems to fly on cloudy days, others do show some shortcomings under these conditions. Again, reading the manual is a good idea.
In the case when you not only have cloudy days but also strong winds, no matter how good your drone is, it is a bad idea to fly them. The winds can make it harder to maneuver the drone and it can go anywhere. Again, it does not matter how good your drone is, if it can happen to real size helicopters, it will happen to your drone too. On days with strong winds, keep your drone at home.
So now that you have read the manual and got all the information you need to fly your drone, you are ready to have some fun with it, right? Well, not quite. Although you know the theory, you still have to check that the drone is working properly. You need to check that every component is in perfect condition. This includes propellers, batteries, lights and everything attached to the drone. And this has to be done every single time you are flying the drone. Every time that the drone is going to be used it needs to be checked.
A lot of companies offer an app for smart phones that help pilots control their drones. If you have it, then it is very likely that the app has an option to help you calibrate your drone. This is a great tool to make sure that the parts are working correctly and you can go flying your drone without any worries.
Finally, if your drone has a camera and is capable of taking pictures or videos, then you need to have permission from the proper permissions to take a picture or a video, otherwise it is illegal to do so.
So here you go, you have a starter list of things to take into consideration before flying your drone. Many tips mentioned are actually laws to protect the people around you and even yourself, and they vary depending on where you are. Others are just for your own good. All in all, they are meant to make your experience of drone flying a good one.