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Learn to FLY your NEW expensive DJI!!


Well-Known Member
Premium Pilot
Feb 27, 2023
Bakersfield, California
I was noticing a spike in the "I crashed my Drone" Dept. SO I thought I would chime in and suggest some things that have taken me from a camera drone pilot to a Juicy flicking- gap Hunting Madman lol.
I am for sure not a pro but My flying aint to bad now thanks to what I have learned.
I was thinking other pilots could chime in with their tips too, Not that it can't be interesting to read all of these crash stories and relate (some of us lol) BUT perhaps we can save the new guys some money.
GET A SIM- Even the FPV sim liftoff can be placed in "angle" mode To replicate a Camera Drone. and flying one of the sim drones in angle mode will teach you the basics and eventually if you keep at it- How to "feel" what your drone is doing.
Dont learn to fly with your new DJI.- When you learned to Drive they didn't show you to your new Rolls and say " lets get started".
DJI has created some top of the line equipment and their Drones garner some of the newest tech out there BUT As a training drone they are Worthless. I have never understood the thinking behind NOT making the Gimbals on their Drones Detachable. It seems like a no brainer to me but here we are DJI has sold you a very expensive and nice piece of equipment attached to a reasonably priced drone. If you crash the reasonably priced part you will end up paying for the expensive one. SO Leave the new drone in the box until you can fly the sim or get help from someone You will be happier and richer.
IF you must learn on your thousand dollar toy:
DO BORING STUFF AND LOTS OF IT. Take it to the park and do endless squares aroundan object. "Drag race" the Drone and learn to judge stopping distance. Get some pool noodles and plant them upright in the ground and learn to fly close to things using them. (They are soft and if the drone "pulls" into them your gimbal will hit a soft surface at least). Get to know your new thousand dollar friend before you start asking it to do favors.
Finally Don't fly with the camera at all for your first half dozen or so flights ONLY use your eyes and the Map feature on the screen Once you know everything the map is telling you and why Then take off the lense cap
These are some of mine Hope it helps you to get started without destroying your new Drone.
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Soft surfaces are no guarantee of damage free incidents, if a blade gets stopped/snagged there's a fair chance the drone is going down and the rear of the stopped blade is probably going to get smacked by the leading edge of the other blade. Been there and done both.
I would say there is a better chance of the drone remaining airborne if it contacts a hard surface but only at creeping speeds and when the surface is perpendicular to the drone's flight path.
My minis have touched walls on more than one occasion, whoops, and remained flying, I fly them indoors quite a lot lol.
In general try to stay away from walls lol, ceiling encounters tend to be survivable ...... unless you really screw up lol.
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Simulators are a great resource for sure, but I'm ok learning on the gear you're going to fly with regularly. Having said that, 100% agree that the first flying hours should be doing boring stuff. Absolutely.

Incidentally, the flight review for the Advanced pilot certificate (at least, when I did it) in Canada is intentionally very basic. BUT... expect to spend most of the time looking at the aircraft and not the screen on your control station. I was asked to guesstimate distance/altitude, perform box maneuvers and manual orbits around objects, and non-automated take off and landing during my flight review, in addition to other tasks. Basic flying skills are very important.
While there isn't one best way of learning how to fly (everyone is different), here's what I recommend after flying many DJI consumer drones (I own most all of them) since 2016:

- Skip buying a non-DJI practice drone and start with any of the DJI consumer drones (ideally the model you'll be flying most). While it's true DJI makes one of the most expensive consumer drones, you likely won't learn much about your DJI drones by flying drones made by other manufacturers. And then you'll be back to square one again when you finally decide to ditch the practice drone and start flying a DJI drone.

- Before attempting to fly, watch a few videos (like this one) that cover all of the features for the DJI drone you'll be flying. Also, read the DJI manual (available in the DJI Download Center) from beginning to end (maybe a few times). You're certainly not going to remember everything, but it'll give you a good understanding of the available features and capabilities of your drone. And then you can go back to the manual or YouTube videos when you need to take a deeper dive into a specific topic.

- Before taking off, always review the settings in DJI Fly (or the app you're using) to ensure everything is set as expected. If you do plan on flying near any obstacles, ensure the RTH altitude is set properly in case your drone needs to automatically return back to the home point mid-flight.

- DJI drones have a lot of awesome automated flight features. Use them with caution and never assume they are always going to function as expected (always be ready to take control if needed).

- Sensors are great and they can help prevent your drone from crashing into obstacles. They are not foolproof though. Never rely on them 100% or assume they are going to work perfectly in all flight conditions -- or react the same way when flying in similar conditions from past flights.

- Find a flat, wide open place to practice (free of people, trees, and all other obstacles). It's pretty hard to crash a DJI drone into the ground, so you'll likely have the best success if that's your only obstacle. Continue flying in this location (or similar locations) until you're able to control your drone without thinking about it (like riding a bike).

- Make sure you can easily see your drone at all times (required by law in most countries). After removing all nearby obstacles, nearly everyone who crashes/loses a drone is either not watching it with their eyes or cannot clearly see where it's located.

- The screen is chock-full of great information. Use it as a reference (sparingly) as you do when looking at your dashboard while driving a car. It's also a great tool for framing the perfect photo or getting your drone in just the right spot before hitting record. If you're mostly staring at the screen while flying, you'll probably have no idea where your drone is located.

- Don't fly in sport mode until you're comfortable controlling your drone. You don't want to get into a situation where you need to maneuver quickly and aren't quite sure which stick to move (another reason not to practice near obstacles).

- DJI drones record a lot of useful information in the TXT flights. The logs are helpful for things like troubleshooting issues you experienced during a flight, locating a lost drone, and many other things. The TXT files can be found on your phone/tablet or remote controller (if it has a screen). See these instructions for more details. And then you'll need a tool like my free online DJI log viewer or Flight Reader to decrypt and access/view the data within.
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Great advice. To that list I would also add, try practicing with the different stick modes. I honestly prefer Mode 3, it's more familiar to me as a video gamer, so it's the one I normally use. However, I practiced a lot in Mode 2 (default) before settling on Mode 3.
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I was fortunate enough to learn to fly on Phantom 3 Pro. The biggest reason I say that is it had a selectable Atti mode, newer drones do not. I actually flew alot in Atti mode, was more realistic, and it taught me what to expect in hard to control situations. My advice on this point is try to learn on an aircraft that has Atti mode and practice that, everything after that is easy.
My advice on this point is try to learn on an aircraft that has Atti mode and practice that, everything after that is easy
Can you share some more? How does knowing how to fly a drone with ATTI mode prepare you for flying drones that don't have that feature?
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Can you share some more? How does knowing how to fly a drone with ATTI mode prepare you for flying drones that don't have that feature?
It teaches you the feel of the aircraft when you lose GPS so you don't panic the first time it happens, you can let go of the sticks and see exactly what the wind is doing.
As someone who crashed not one, but TWO minis before I did a lot of reading and practice flying and really trying to understand how things worked and what is important and what NOT to do, I can say the advice in this thread is really good. Since starting to read on this forum and really trying to understand my drone, I've not had another crash. (knock on wood). I feel like I'm a MUCH better pilot now.

I would also suggest looking at some of the basic flight training patterns - Pilot Institute has a good course with them, and there are a variety of other places - these are really good things to practice a LOT to get used to how to control your drone.
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Couldn't agree more as someone on here suggested I did when I started out as a complete newbie to Drones not long ago, I did stuff over and over again and believe me IT WORKS.
Also I always kept Dave (The Drone) in my FOV and didn't fly too high for a long period before learning curved flight path Etc
The advice I've got on here right from the start has been Invaluable.
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My fiancee and I started a day camp focused on drone flying. The drones we use are CoDrone EDU's (as noted in my signature). They're designed for indoor flying, there's no GPS. They have visual position sensors, and that's about it.

So essentially you fly them in "ATTI" mode the whole time, and they're great for practicing fundamentals. We had the kids fly them through our indoor drone obstacle course, and of course I took a few turns as well. These guys are great to learn basic skills on, and because you can fly them indoors (built in prop guards, very small size) you don't need to worry about where you are, what airspace, etc. You're not tempted to stare at the screen the whole time because -- there's no camera! The screen just tells you basic telemetry and battery status, you watch the drone the whole time.

I highly recommend picking up a small educational indoor drone, CoDrone makes even cheaper ones too.

Simulators are a great resource for sure,

I remember when I purchased the SPARK in 2017, it came with a flight simulator on the Go4 app.

Being my first drone, it was nice to "fly" without the risks of crashing.

The telemetry on the screen functioned as if flying and I would practice flying BVLOS to watch the telemetry and react just in case I did fly BVLOS someday.

But over the years, DJI updated the app and took the simulator away.

Bummer. :confused:

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