It’s easy to be a bad pilot. We know from experience. Our goal with this post is to help new Part 107 Pilots avoid common mistakes and get the most out of their flying experience. So read on for six killer tips that will make your drone flight experiences safer and more exciting. As a new Part 107 Pilot you will want to ensure that you avoid:
Not following local and FAA drone rules.
If you want to be a responsible drone pilot, you’re going to have to follow the rules. And we mean both the FAA’s and your local municipality’s regulations. While there have been progressing efforts to make it easier for drone operators by creating a single, unified set of regulations, there are still many municipalities that do not have their own specific rules in place yet. In these cases, it is up to you as an individual pilot and operator to ensure that you know all applicable laws and regulations before taking off with your Part 107 drone license or commercial license.
Not conducting airspace research or flight planning before flying.
Airspace research and flight planning are two things that many new Part 107 Pilots overlook, or don’t fully understand. But they’re incredibly important—and if you’re going to be a successful commercial drone operator, you need to know why they’re so vital.
Airspace research is essential for all the information you’ll need about your planned flight site, from regulation information (such as airspace rules) to weather data (like wind speeds at altitude).
Flight planning involves assessing the risk factors for your intended route, including obstacles like trees or buildings that could get in the way of your drone during takeoff or landing.
Luckily, for new and experienced drone pilots alike, there are apps out there – like Mapware Fly – that can help you easily automate the flight planning process.
With Mapware Fly, you get access to automated and accurate 3D drone mapping. You can easily explore and manage high-quality 3D models and orthomosaics straight from your mobile device – allowing for effortless automated flying and data collecting.
For those just getting started, Mapware Fly can help you with:
- Automatic Flight Paths – Easily draw an outline of your “area of interest” on an interactive map, and Mapware Fly will automatically create the optimal flight path based on your configured flight parameters.
- Preflight Checklist – Perform successful missions with a preflight checklist at the start of each flight. The app confirms that the drone is properly connected, has enough battery life to perform the mission, and that the flight path doesn’t encroach on restricted airspace.
- Offline Operation – Plan and execute drone missions at a remote site without needing a Wi-Fi or cellular signal.
- Create Missions Without a Connected Drone – Create and plan a mission without connecting your device to a drone. This feature allows you to plan missions before they go out into the field, so you don’t waste valuable field time.
Not testing your equipment before flying.
The first thing you should do before flying is to make sure that everything works.
- Test your drone battery and charger, making sure it can charge the battery in a reasonable amount of time.
- Check all the connections on your controller and FPV setup to make sure they’re tight and free of any dust or dirt that could cause issues with connectivity.
- Turn on your video transmitter, pair it with your receiver, set up an antenna mount, and test the signal strength (in meters) from each direction around you at different altitudes/positions—just like when you fly! Is everything clear? If not, try changing some settings in order to get better reception.
Flying near airports, animals, moving cars, people, emergency services, or at night.
When you’re starting out as a new Part 107 Drone Pilot, there are rules and regulations that you must follow to ensure your safety as well as everyone else’s. Here are some tips on how to avoid the following pitfalls:
- Don’t fly near an airport (unless you have permission from the control tower). Airports can be busy places, with a lot going on around them. It’s best to keep your drone out of this area so that it doesn’t get in anyone’s way or cause any problems if it falls out of the sky.
- Don’t fly near people because they could be hit by a drone falling from the sky which would cause injury or death. Also, don’t fly near emergency services such as police officers because this might interfere with their job and endanger their lives too!
- Don’t fly near animals because they may become frightened by seeing a flying object nearby which could lead them to run away from their habitat – where do you think these animals will go next? There are also some species who have been known for attacking drones so keep this in mind when planning your flight path!
- Don’t fly at night when you are just starting out. Flying drones is already hard, flying at night is even harder. We recommend getting additional fly time under your belt before taking to the night skies.
Stay on top of restricted airspaces. While you are planning your flight, turn to Mapware Fly to automatically highlight “restricted” and “authorization” airspace zones directly on our mission map. With this feature, you can feel confident that your drone flights are compliant with local restrictions.
Flying higher than the 400-foot limit.
But before you start flying, there are some things you need to know about how this new regulation works.
One major Part 107 rule to note is that the 400-foot limit is not a minimum—it’s a maximum! The FAA has set this height as your absolute ceiling for flight without having to file an exemption request with them first. The reason they did this is that they don’t want pilots accidentally flying over people or structures and hitting them with their drones…which could cause serious harm if they’re carrying any kind of cargo (like human beings).
We’ve seen too many incidents where pilots have flown too close to buildings while attempting low-altitude flights; it’s important that everyone keeps their distance when flying at such heights so as not to put themselves or others in danger.
We have two simple features in Mapware Fly that will help you stay in flight height compliance:
- Terrain Following – Set a target altitude for your autonomous flight right within Mapware Fly. When terrain following is turned on, the drone’s height above ground level will automatically adjust as the underlying terrain changes.
- Live Telemetry – During flights, you can view real-time drone telemetry information including Above Ground Level (AGL) altitude, Mean Sea Level (MSL) altitude, horizontal and vertical speed, SD card space remaining, drone battery, and distance to home (takeoff location).
Crashing your drone.
It’s easy to think that drones are indestructible, but they’re not. If you get nervous or flustered while flying and crash your drone, it might not be salvageable—and that’s where the real cost comes in. A crash can damage the drone and its controller (or remote control), which could mean needing to order new parts or buying another device altogether. Don’t let this happen! Always have a backup drone and backup parts on hand. Also, don’t forget about battery life: if your battery dies mid-flight, there goes your chance of getting home safely as well!
To help protect you from crashing your drone, tap into these two Mapware Fly Features:
- Controller Connection Status – Know exactly how strong of a connection you have between your controller and drone at all times.
- Mission Progress Awareness – Keep tabs on images captured, where your drone has been, how much of the mission has been completed, and the time remaining in the flight.
Even though we’ve covered a lot of ground in this article, it’s just the tip of the Part 107 iceberg. There are plenty of online and in-person resources to help you learn about the rest. The best ones are probably your local aeromodelling club, drone community event, online forum for hobbyists and of course Mapware. The more you learn about UAVs and how to fly them safely and legally, the better off you’ll be as a new pilot!
Mapware makes flight planning and capture easy. Download Mapware Fly and see for yourself.