Drone Storytelling: How to get started

This month we delved into drone storytelling for our Innovation in Focus project. Here are five tips to help you get started if you’re new to drones! 

1. Your first drone should be one you can crash — a lot

Buy a cheap drone for practice so you can crash it without putting a dent in your finances. You’ll learn how to steer and how long the average battery lasts. More importantly, you’ll see if you want to invest time and money into taking the next step: becoming a drone pilot. 

2. Budget the cost of becoming a drone pilot

If you decide to take a class to learn the information for the drone test there are plenty of courses online, they usually range between $200 and $300. You can also take practice tests and download materials off the Federal Aviation Administration website to study independently. Some drone pilots we talked to took the test without taking a paid course, but they said it was harder to learn all the necessary information. Once you believe you’re ready, the test costs $150 and must be retaken every two years. This puts the starting costs of becoming a pilot anywhere between $150 and $500. And after you’re certified, you’ll be investing in a drone that can cost from $100 to thousands depending on what model you pick and your needs. Becoming a drone pilot is not cheap, so like any other niche technology, make sure you’ll get out of it what you’re going to put into it. 

3. You have to register your drone even if you’re just flying for fun

Some new drone pilots make the mistake of thinking they don’t have to register their drones if they buy them just to fly for fun. Even if you buy a drone to fly in your backyard or in empty spaces outside your home, you need to register it if it’s more than 0.55 pounds. 

4. Learn about the no-fly zones where you live

How often will you get to fly where you live? Well, it depends. Big cities, highly populated areas, land near airports and protected sites like national parks are off limits. Get the lay of the land before investing time and money into a drone and license. See where you can fly.  

5. Ask questions

Before we went out with drones, we asked Matt Borowick plenty of questions about how to get great visuals from the air and why he loves drone storytelling. When you’re ready to ask questions, find a knowledgeable drone club, teacher or mentor in your city. Having a second person to help on flights, double-check equipment and share the joy of flying a drone can make the experience more fun and less stressful. 

If you have any additional questions about drones or drone storytelling, contact me at Duncank@rjionline.org! I’m happy to help you get started. 

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