On Christmas morning it took 22-minutes of unwrapping presents from my family in order to receive my mini-first person drone called Tello. Tello is small, small enough to fit in the palm of my hand (albeit I’ve a pretty large palm).
From the first flight on top of our bed, to the moment I wrapped it up in its return packaging, I knew I was hooked on becoming a drone pilot.
Drone piloting means many things but first and foremost it meant following rules. And not just any rules, but the rules of Canadian Aviation, Transport Canada and NavCanada. Which are all Federal organizations who frown upon people breaking the “rules” by handing out suspensions, fines or the worst option confiscation!
After returning the Tello and all its accessories, I spent a few weeks reviewing the possibilities of a new drone: used or new, large or small, video or photo, flight time, limitations, features accessories and cost of ownership.
All research concluded the day before the boxing week sales begun. I chose to purchase a medium sized 254g DJI Spark combo package for the additional battery, accessories and field carrying bag.
It took two full days of reading the manuals to have a good understanding about how to use each feature and operate this new flying device. But I didn’t want to wait until Spring when our Albertan cold weather would change back into degrees above zero Celsius (32F), in order to fly outside.
At the time of purchase we lived in a condo building with a very large garage area which was kept warm at 15- degrees Celsius (60F).
Down to the garage, we went to begin practice sessions on how to operate the controller, drone, and command screens.
Logging several successful short indoor flights I felt confident my skills were getting better with every half hour spent at the controls.
It’s not until Spring that I realized the indoor training was only good for the limited air space flown inside the garage.
This meant I would have to adjust what was learnt indoors and begin applying this knowledge in an outdoor flying environment.
This new environment brought forth a set of new obstacles and a variety of sizes. These dramatic changes deserved respect.
In the outdoors the air space enlarged a thousand times over with an endless field of view. Except now the line of sight (LOS) would be constantly changing thus my skills required rapid improvement.
This is when I developed the three C’s of flying the drone. If I followed these fairly simple rules I could guarantee a successful flight everytime.
Coordination involves planning and determining your flight takeoff, landing and flight zone.
- Check your surrounding area for obstacles which may impede takeoff and landing such as telephone piles, wires, trees, bushes, buildings, or other tall objects.
Always look up before taking off
Determine where you are going to fly and what the flight route will be. This will assist in safe travels and allowing for maximum flight time. As well as having enough battery to return safely.
Follow all precautions which are instructed by the app during flight time. Such as altitude, loss of transmission, loss of connection, adjusting antennas, or wind/velocity issues.
Cooperation is understanding the rules and regulations of flight which are determined by Transport Canada, NavCanada and other federal organizations.
- Reading the manuals and writing the drone pilot basic exam test and/or the advanced exam test. (Exam tests are dependent on drone weight, and type of application: hobby or commercial)
1a. Registering your drone with Transport Canada
1b. Labeling your drone with the appropriate information
- Maintain safe distances of 6+ kilometers (4-miles) from airports, airfields, and helicopter pads
Listen for and observe the skies around you for incoming aircraft into your predetermined flight zone (low flying airplanes, helicopters or other aerial devices).
3a. If your drone is already in flight be certain you understand how to lower and or maneuver your drone away from other aircraft to keep everyone safe.
SAFETY is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY
- Maintain appropriate distances from wildlife and people.
Concentration is the ability to focus on the task at hand. Being committed 100% to the entire flight, keep control of the drone and stay present with zero distractions.
In conclusion, the right attitude about pre-flight planning, keeping within the rules outlined by Transport Canada and maintaining your concentration will always lead to a successfully executed flight log, again and again.