In the following sections, you’re going to learn everything you need to know about how to fly a drone. While the experts make it look easy, the truth is that flying a quadcopter for the first time can be quite a challenge! But don’t worry, because you’re going to learn all the steps, from A-Z, on how to successfully fly a quadcopter. And the best part is that you’ll have complete control over your device. With that being said, let’s get started!
Important Note: For the sake of the following tutorials, I’m going to assume that your transmitter is setup in the following fashion: the yaw and throttle are controlled by the left joystick, while the roll and pitch are controlled by the right joystick. Some transmitters are setup backwards to this configuration, which is why I thought I’d bring it up.
Understanding Basic Transmitter Anatomy
If you’re going to learn how to fly a drone safely and precisely, then you first need to understand the basic functionalities of a quadcopter’s transmitter. The transmitter is the hand-held controller that you’ll use to pilot your quadcopter. With a few exceptions, all transmitters come with two joysticks – a right and a left. By adjusting these sticks, you can send your drone in a specific direction.
The right joystick controls “Roll” and “Pitch”. In other words, it allows you to fly your drone forwards & backwards, as well as left & right. Before you learn how to fly a drone, let’s take a look at these two functions a little more in-depth.
Roll controls the right & left movements of your RC quadcopter. Below you’ll find an example of a quadcopter rolling to the right and left. If you look closely, you’ll notice that when the quadcopter rolls to the left, the two left propellers dip towards the ground (while the right ones move towards the sky).
The opposite happens when rolling to the right. When learning how to fly a drone, you need to pay exceptionally close attention to your rolls. Swinging to far to the right or left could send you flying towards a house, tree, or other object that could potentially damage your drone!
Pitch controls the forward & backward movement of your RC quadcopter. And it’s something you must master when learning how to fly a drone. Similar to rolling, when you pitch forward, the two front propellers are going to dip towards the ground while the two rear propellers raise towards the sky (the opposite is true when pitching backwards).
As long as the front of the drone is facing the same direction you are, the pitch controls are relatively straightforward: just move the right joystick up or down to move forwards or backwards. However, it becomes trickier when your orientation with the drone is “off”. In this case, the drone might not go directly forwards or directly backwards – it might go off at an angle instead.
The left joystick controls “Yaw” and “Throttle”. In other words, it allows you to fly your drone at a specific height, as well as rotate your drone along its central axis. Before we go on to talk about how to fly a drone, let’s look at yaw and throttle a little more closely.
combine_imagesYaw controls the clockwise & counterclockwise rotation of your RC quadcopter. Imagine a disc-shaped UFO rotating in a clockwise direction – that’s yaw. Since yaw is controlled by the same joystick as the throttle, beginner flyers often have difficulty controlling them both simultaneously. Fortunately, with enough practice, I’m confident you’ll master it in no time.
Controlling yaw is relatively straightforward: by moving the right joystick to the right, you cause the drone to fly in a clockwise direction. Likewise, by moving the right joystick to the left, you force the drone to fly in a counterclockwise direction. On paper, understanding yaw is easy, however, it becomes much trickier to understand when you’re actually flying!
Nano drones like the Cheerson CX-10 and the FQ777-124 Pocket Drone have pretty quick “yaw rates”. Basically, this means that these drones are able to move in a clockwise/counterclockwise rotation faster than the average nano quadcopter.
Throttle is what transfers power to the propellers and forces them to spin. As the propellers spin at a higher and higher rate, it creates a down flow of air that eventually lifts the quadcopter off of the ground. Throttle is the only control that you’ll have constantly engaged when flying.
For this reason, it’s important that you become comfortable with fine tuning your drone’s throttle so that you can achieve your desired hovering position. Pushing the left joystick forward brings more power to the propellers, causing the drone to lift higher off the ground. Likewise, bringing the left joystick to its original resting position will cut off all power to the propellers and subsequently cause your drone to stop flying.