Drones have caused a revolution in photography and videography over the past five years.

Many motorcyclist and other travelers got into this new way of recording their adventures. There are, however, some obstacles in mastering the technique of aerial photography.  Anyone can take a camera, point, and shoot. But flying one of these “terrifying looking” machines and getting good results can be hard, not to mention dangerous.

Flying an unmanned aircraft is not as easy as it seems, even though drones are equipped with all sorts of helpful technologies nowadays, like sensors, sonars and GPS. One of the biggest aspects of flying a drone is risk assessment. Here are some things that have to be taken into consideration before flying, every time:

Battery Life: an important point in droning, since an average drone lasts around 30 minutes in the air, which can be reduced by strong winds, incorrect flying patterns and poor battery maintenance. This could jeopardize the safety of the aircraft itself; always carry at least one spare battery with you; 30 minutes of flying goes by very quickly. Always double check battery status and never let a battery drop under 10% without recharging these.

Wind: probably the most crucial of all aspect of flying a drone. For small commercial drones, like Spark, Mavic Air and Mavic Pro, it’s absolutely necessary to be careful when flying; the propellers of these small aircraft don’t allow them to fly properly in strong winds. Even maintaining a certain position, in strong winds, could drain your battery quickly and you may end up not being able to return the drone to your home position.

With bigger drones, like the DJI Phantom series or Kharma (GoPro), there’s less to worry about, since they can handle rougher conditions. Always assess winds, before flying, especially near cliffs and canyons.

Interference: Flying in cities or urban areas can be hazardous; interference by other devices or radio frequencies could cause your drone to stall and stop; buildings are always likely to reduce the transmission range. Once disconnected, the recording could stop too. Also, electricity cables, birds and helicopters are enemies for you and your drone’s safety.

People: flying a drone always attracts a lot of attention. It’s mainly curiosity but sometimes people may approach you and distract you with worse intentions,  or they may just attract an unwelcome crowd. Make sure you are in a quiet place and away from public exposure. Some people may alert cops or guards if feeling unsafe with you flying there.

Air space: make sure you always fly in permitted areas. Use apps to verify flying conditions (like AirMap), prior to taking off or even prior to assembly your drone. Flying could be dangerous, especially if in areas where airplanes take off or land. Aside of the big commercial ones, there are a lot of little private airport too, aerodromes, lakes with water planes, military zones, etc; so it’s always good practice to check if you are allowed to fly or not. If you’re not sure, checking with police or National Parks personnel is always a good idea.

All drones have to be registered with FAA and if you use your drone for commercial purpose, you need to have a license to fly one.

(Photo Paolo)

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