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.
Read on for nine essential tips that will make your drone piloting experiences safer and more exciting as a new Part 107 pilot.
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.
There have been progressing efforts to make it easier for drone operators by creating a single, unified set of regulations, but many municipalities still do not have their own specific rules in place yet. In these cases, it is up to you as an individual drone 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.
Airspace research and flight planning are two things that many new Part 107 pilots overlook or don’t fully understand. However, they’re incredibly important—and if you’re going to be a successful commercial drone pilot, 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.
The first thing you should do before flying is to make sure that everything works. Be sure to perform the following checks:
When you’re starting out as a new Part 107 drone pilot, you must follow certain rules and regulations to ensure your safety as well as everyone else’s, including the following:
One major Part 107 rule to note is that the 400-foot limit is not a minimum—it’s the maximum!
The FAA has set this height as your absolute ceiling for flight without having to file an exemption request with them first because they don’t want pilots accidentally flying over people or structures and hitting them with drones, which could cause serious harm if they’re carrying any kind of cargo. We’ve seen too many incidents where drone 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:
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:
Before you take off, make sure you visually survey the area where you intend to fly to get the lay of the land (or absence of land). Look for bodies of water, power lines, fences, and other obstacles.
If you choose to fly over water, be aware that the reflective surface can impact the drone’s sensors and it might not respond correctly to your inputs. It’s also important to stay high above the water because trying to skim the surface could result in a drone lost to the drink.
When it comes to obstacles like power lines and chain link fences, your drone may not be able to see them. You can rely on automation for a lot, but if you want to protect your equipment, keep an eye on the sky—and your drone—and be prepared to use manual controls when necessary.
One of the more unpredictable factors to plan for is the weather. In addition to adjusting flight plans based on wind speed and other conditions, be aware of how the weather might impact the drone itself. Always check the drone weather forecast before you fly, and be prepared to change your route if inclement weather is in your intended flight path.
Extreme heat or cold can also impact drone batteries. Store your drone in a conditioned space to protect battery life, and be aware of the risks of failure when you fly in extreme temperatures.
Luckily for new and experienced drone pilots alike, there are apps out there—such as Mapware Fly—that can 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 directly from your mobile device, allowing for effortless automated flying and data collecting.
For those just getting started, Mapware Fly can help you with:
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 events, online forums 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.
This article, originally posted on June 21, 2022, was updated June 7, 2023.