Parrot Bebop 2 Review And How it Competes With DJI Drones.

Stats and info on product:

Name: Parrot Bebop 2.parrot bebop 2 review

Company: Parrot.

Typical Flight Time: Average of up to 25 minutes.

Price: $359.99.

Size: Slightly smaller than a Mavic Pro. You can hold it in your palm and it is pretty portable, although the wings do not fold. 

Price: There’s 3 different packages, the first is for the drone itself, which is anywhere from $200-$250, the next is with an FPV and controller package, which is about $400-$500, and one with a large remote, and the drone for about $500 too. Official prices vary based on where you get it (Amazon, Best Buy, Parrot website, ect…).

My personal recommendation is to get the FPV package with the remote as it provides the most benefits. 

Camera quality: 14 MP camera that shoots at 1080p @ 30 FPS.

Rating of product: 55 out of 100 points. An ABOVE average drone, that shoots good footage and video. Very easy to fly around with if you’re a beginner, yet this is a 2016 model and in comparison to other look a likes (in the portable department) on the market, it is not as good.

I’ll do a review on the Parrot Bebop 2 first, then compare it to 3 other portable models on the market that are on that level or higher: The Spark, the Mavic Pro and finally the Mavic Air. However…

I believe the Mavic 2 Pro is the best choice in portable drones. See why.

The overall stats and pros of the Parrot Bebop 2:

1) Camera is decent (1080p @ 30 FPS with a 14 MP camera is no joke, it’s HD).

You should expect it to shoot at a level or a decent camera phone, probably not up to the level of a Samsung S8 or more present level iPhones, but still more than good enough. 

2) Flight time is awesome! 

25 minutes on average is amazing stuff. Thus far, the only model it’s size that gets that much flight time is the Mavic Pro (I compare them further below).

3) One of 2 remote options.

Depending on which package you get (I don’t recommend just getting the drone), the controller is pretty awesome. With it, the range and actual control of the flight is better. 

4) Range. About a mile with the controller.

1-2 KM I believe is the average distance you can fly this thing, that’s slightly over a mile far.

5) Camera is well protected behind another lens and can rotate sideways in addition to up and down.

One big advantage the Parrot Bebop 2 holds over DJI models is that it’s camera CAN rotate in more than just 2 directions (up and down), it can also go left and right, thus helping you have more customization in terms of shooting abilities. 

6) Sturdy.

The overall model is “hard” to break. Not that you should test this, but generally, at the speed it can fly up to, depending on what it crashes into (hopefully nothing), it has a strong chance or survival and continuing to fly after.

7) Good controls and flying ease for beginners. 

One of the things that makes this model enjoyable is that it’s easy to fly. Being that it can go at up to 30 mph and it takes some seconds to reach that, people can navigate with the drone much easier than with other, faster models. Just because certain drone models are faster doesn’t mean they are better since faster speeds inhibit the overall turns of the model. In this case, it’ll be a lot easier to fly if you’re a beginner.

The cons:

1) Wings cannot be folded.

2 years ago, this model would be considered VERY portable. Today this is not the case. Even models it’s size like the Mavic Pro are much smaller because the wings can be folded. Obviously compared to bigger models like a Phantom, the Parrot Bebop is a much easier one to carry, but in the realm of portable drones, it is not at the top, not even close (the 3 models I’ll compare it to below are more portable and also fly well).

2) Camera is good, but not exactly high level.

If you’re not really the kind of person who cares too much about “professional” level photo taking or filming, you’ll be OK here. The camera on this model is GOOD, but these day’s models are a lot better, especially the ones who shoot in 4k.

3) No sensors. 

Despite being beginner friendly in terms of set up and flying experience, you still have to be very careful, especially since this model (on it’s own) does not have safety sensors as far as I know. You can buy an additional accessory known as a “slam dunk obstacle avoidance module” which looks like a mini drone you attach to the top of the Parrot Bebop, but it’s a separate purchase. 

No sensors for me a turn off to be honest, because it inhibits a hands off type flying experience where you may want to do things like film yourself flying and have the drone follow you (which the Bebop 2 can do), but without that obstacle avoidance, you have to be really careful as to where it flies around while it follows you.

Overall thoughts on the Parrot Bebop 2: Who it’s perfect for.

As a first time drone, this is a great model.

If you’re a beginner and have never flown, this is also a good option.

If you like taking pictures but are OK with them being fine, and not too professional, this is good (again, let me stress that this drone takes good pictures and videos).

Overall, this is a good entry into the world of drones for beginners and FPV flying. You’ll have fun.

Parrot Bebop 2 (PB) vs the competition, starting with a DJI Spark.

The Spark is twice as small as the PB, but has a similar photo/video taking ability at 1080p @ 30 FPS. I rated the Spark the same, at 70 out of 100 points. While the scores are the same, it’s not because they are the same. It’s because:

  • The Spark is more portable the than PB. 
  • It’s also beginner friendly.
  • It has fun options like palm landing available.
  • It’s distance potential is similar to the PB as is it’s speed potential (in sports mode).

The only area where the PB is better is the price:

For a regular PB drone, you’re looking at $200-$250. A Spark is $399 for JUST the model.

With a remote attached to the package (and FPV), the PB is $500, while the Spark with a remote (no FPV Goggles) is about $550+. 

Overall, the 2 big things here are the price and the portability. If you are tighter on money, get the PB. If you are not and like portability, get the Spark (they shoot similarly). 

Parrot Bebop vs Mavic Pro:

Size wise, both models are the nearly the same (the Mavic Pro is slightly larger), but when folded, it’s smaller and more portable. It’s picture/video taking ability however is next level to the PB (4K @ 30 FPS with a 12 MP camera). I rated the Mavic Pro at 90 out of 10 points and here’s where it has advantages over the PB:

  • More portable when folded (easier to carry).
  • Much better camera.
  • Much more range potential (it can fly 2-3 times as far).
  • Similar flight time on both models. 

As with the Spark, the PB is superior in terms of pricing. A regular package of the Mavic Pro today will cost you $999, which comes with the remote and 1 battery, while a regular PB (just the drone) is nearly 75% less expensive, yet you SHOULD get the remote with a PB as it’ll make the flying experience easier and more fulfilling, so that’s about $500, which is still about 50% less than the MP.

If you value a higher level model and don’t mind the extra price, get the Mavic Pro, it’s an awesome model and frankly the best one out of the choices here. But there’s still one choice left…

And finally, my preferred alternative: The Mavic Air.

If you wanted to get the Mavic Pro because of it’s abilities, but the price was holding you back, you will likely find the Mavic Air to the best option for you, out of all 3 alternatives. I rate it 95 out of 100 points.

The Mavic Air has a nearly identical camera to the Mavic Pro, but my test indicate it shoots slightly better, so my opinion is that you get a better camera with the Mavic Air. It’s also twice as small as the PB and the Mavic Pro, so you really get amazing portability with this model. 

Overall, the Mavic Air has the following advantages:

3 safety sensors on the Mavic Air vs no sensors on the PB.

  • Way better camera than the PB and slightly better than the Mavic Pro (12 MP camera with 4k footage at up to 30 FPS).
  • Palm control abilities (like on the Spark, no remote needed).
  • More intelligent flight models.
  • It can fly 2x as far.

Update: I’ve reduced the rating of the Mavic Air to 85 out of 100. But still the PB has 2 main advantages to the Mavic Air:

1) The price. The regular package for the Mavic Air is $799 and being that I recommended you get the PB with the remote ($500), you’re looking at a 30% higher price point. If you’re OK with that, get the Mavic Air, no questions there!

2) The flight time is about 5-10 min more on the PB. If this is important to you, as is a tighter budget, get the PB. If not, get the Mavic Air, I am certain you’ll love it more and it is next level.

Why I compared the Parrot Bebop 2 to these 3 models:

The PB is a portable drone, and naturally with this whole market having numerous portable options, if you have the question on alternatives, the 3 I showed you are the likeliest ones to compete with it. I have given you their stats and explained my rating for each. 

I have also provided separate reviews on each model in case you wish to learn more, including pictures of how good the cameras are.

Again, I like the PB and I would have rated it higher had I done this review 2 years ago when it came out, but technology and the quality of the models coming out recently (and moving forward) has risen drastically and this has actually pushed the PB further down on the rating because the bar has risen.

My personal choice? Get the Mavic Pro if you can afford it!

Update: Parrot ANAFI.

I think the ANAFI is also a great choice and is in every way better than the Bebop 2. It’s another drone you should consider, especially if you’re already a fan of Parrot’s drone models.

Parrot ANAFI Review. 5 Reasons to Get it And 5 Reasons Not to.

Ok guys, time for a review of a NONE DJI product (yay!) and this time it comes in the form of one of DJI’s main compeititors: Parrot. The drone I’m going to be reviewing will be the ANAFI model that was released a few months back.

There’s a lot of good things to say about it, but just as much, there are negatives which I am surprised other videos/sites aren’t talking about.

Anyway, I’ve narrowed down the 5 main pros and 5 main cons for this drone and if it may be better to wait for the next generation models to come out soon (I’m talking the Mavic Pro 2 or possibly a second generation Parrot ANAFI product).

Anyway, let’s begin:

Stats and info on the ANAFI drone:

Name: ANAFI.parrot anafi review

Company: Parrot.

Size: Very small, portable drone. it’s slimmer in width than a cell phone, but longer in size. 

Price: $699.

Camera quality: 4K @ 30 FPS with a 100 MBPS, also a 21 megapixel camera lens.

Max range: 2.5 miles.

Speed: A little over 30 mph.

Flight time per battery: 25 minutes.

Rating of product: 70 out of 100 points.

This is honestly a good drone model, not great though and if you’ve never owned a portable one and/or fly well, I’d consider getting this particular model. However, read about the 5 pros and 5 cons in this review to decide if this is the model you want to get.

Here’s my recommended model for portable drones, the Mavic Pro 2.

The 5 pros of the ANAFI:

1) The portability. 

Any small, good drone model is going to have this perk but when it comes to the ANAFI, this has it’s own perks worth noting. For one, the case in which this drone comes in is very nice looking. If you own a Mavic Air like me, think of that case, but just more slim to fit that. And it’s actually a lot quieter than the Mavic Air, a major plus.

Now let’s get back to the drone itself.

As a whole, this thing is light, easy to carry within the case, easy to set up and it’s straight forward to fly with. Head out to mountains or any other places where traveling on feet is necessary and this is a good drone to take with you as it won’t really get in the way and because it’s very light, you probably won’t even feel it.

2) It’s quiet. Very quiet.

As of now, I think this model is as quiet as the Mavic Pro with the quiet propellers (or Mavic Pro platinum which comes with it). In this case though, the default propellers which come with the ANAFI are extremely light and wide, making them a lot more quieter to work with.

I’ve always liked quieter drones because they bother people and animals less and I can get a much more good light going without being bothered by that annoying buzzing noise most models make these days, even the portable ones. 

I think as the evolution of drones continues, the next generation models will get quieter and quieter and ANAFI is certainly at the top as of now in that regard.

3) Good camera with an obvious, yet unique feature…

Ok, so overall, the camera quality is great, on par with or possibly even SLIGHTLY better than the Mavic Air and Mavic Pro, but I’ll make the conclusion at a later post. What I can definitely tell you is that the difference in camera quality between these models is negligible at best, meaning, you will get great footage no matter which one you use and yes, I do know that there is a 21 megapixel camera on the ANAFI, but honestly, looking at preliminary footage, I hardly see any major difference with the competition.

But the ace in the hole in favor of the ANAFI is actually the fact that it’s the ONLY portable drone on the market today which has a 180 degree camera which can actually point up. It’s such an obvious, yet awesome perk that I really wish I saw on my portable models.

With the fact that you can actually AIM the camera up now, you have so many more flying possibilities. You can fly up a hill an film the footage as it’s going up (instead of only being able to aim forward and down on other models) as well as many other new possibilities.

If Parrot got something truly right, it’s this awesome perk and I absolutely know future models will mimic this in some way. They have to, there’s just so much more marketing success if they do.

4) If you’re a first time buyer of portable drones and can fly well, consider it.

Now let me make something clear from the above point:

The people who NEVER owned a portable drone but have flown bigger ones are the people for whom this pro refers to. Think of people who flew Inspire, Phantom or Yuneec models. If they’ve never owned a portable model, but are in the market for one, their experience may make them want to consider the ANAFI. 

With portability and a decent camera, mixed in with good flight experience, the pilot may not even need the safety sensors which this drone does not have by the way.

5) The controller is good.

At least better than the remote for the Mavic Air and Spark, that’s my opinion (the Mavic Pro controller is still better in my opinion because it displays more). In any case, this controller is comfortable, easy to set up and is great for beginners. 

Now the 5 cons:

1) Back to the negligible camera quality when compared to other drones.

I honestly see very little difference in the quality I’ve researched so far. As an owner of the Mavic Pro and Air, I have to say comparing the footage to the ANAFI shows me more sharpness in the Mavics. 

While the ANAFI shoots well, to consider spending $700+ on this drone would require that this camera be significantly better, and I don’t think it is. So if you already own a portable drone such as the ones I mentioned, I don’t see any reason to get another drone which shoots similarly, but lacks sensors. And on the sensor note…

2) I don’t get why they couldn’t put in a single safety sensor.

Even the Spark which runs at $400 these days has 2 of them. Why couldn’t Parrot do this? Now look, it is well known to experienced drone pilots that sometimes safety sensors can actually be a hassle to have and in some circumstances can actually increase the odds of a crash happening, BUT it is still important to keep them around to turn them on when necessary.

I’m an experienced drone pilot and let me tell you that I still make flying mistakes, for which I’ve either gotten lucky out of straight luck or the sensors saved me. Trust me, they are good to keep around.

While the ANAFI drone is durable, why risk a crash with this mind? I’d rather have safety sensors just in case to insure the safety of my drone…

3) $699 is a bit high.

All you’re really looking at in terms of unique pros is the 180 degree camera as far as I see it. There’s nothing else about this drone which makes it so unique to justify the buy, especially if you already own one of the competitors in this field of portable drone. 

If this was priced at $599, then I’d probably raise the point rating. But at $699, this thing needs more safety sensors. Oh and there’s another, not often talked about con…

4) You actually need to purchase the intelligent flight capabilities separately…

I don’t think I’ve ever heard of any drone company doing this until Parrot. There are intelligent flight modes on this thing, but they aren’t accessible/downloadable unless you make a purchase for each one as far as I know and this is a huge deal breaker for me.

5) It tends to drift, especially in wind.

While it can take on decent wind speeds, the ANAFI tends to drift a little bit when it’s hovering in the air. Such a thing may cause issues for when people are trying to fly in the woods and the lack of stability when hovering may cause the drone to fly into a tree branch or rock. This is something I see as a potential issue for me personally since I love to fly in these types of areas.

The overall conclusion: Should you get the ANAFI?

My go to advice here would be to compare the pros and cons and make a little tally of which ones apply to you, then see if the pros win out or if the cons do.

Either way, I am absolutely certain that as 2018 progresses, that there will be better models coming out of not just DJI but Autel as well as Yuneec. Who knows, perhaps Parrot will release a 2.0 model of the ANAFI with the improvements I hope to see to conquer those cons I listed.

I can confidently say that other than the 90 degree camera being able to point up, I see nothing special about this model that warrants buying it when I already have good portable models as it is. And I know that we’re on the precipitous of seeing next generation models come out soon and that I know for a fact will be better than the ANAFI as well as any other existing portable drones on the market, though I still admit, I love my Mavics!

Phantom 5 Drone. 5 Critical Things I Would Love to See on it!

As it currently stands, the Inspire 1, the Inspire 2 and the Phantom 4 Pro stand as the most elite drones in the DJI arsenal. However, 2018 was a HUGE year for the droning world and besides the Mavic Pro 2 coming out, the other model people wanted to know more about was the Phantom 5.

Following the way drone evolution goes, it’s usually an “easy” thing to predict on where the next generation will go, so what I would like to do is take the current P4P specs and explain what I would love to see on the new P5 and I am hoping that not only will it be true, but also when it finally comes out, that it will even exceed these expectations! 

1: A better camera (obviously).

The P4P has a 20 MP camera that shoots 4k @ 60 fps and it’s absolutely insane. So what I would like to see on the P5 is next level MP improvement. It is possible to double that DJI and give it that DLSR level quality!? I hope so! 

In terms of shooting, I’m fine with 4k but I would like to see an improvement in FPS. In short, the next generation of the Phantom series needs to shoot as well if not better than the Inspire 2. I already think the P4P takes better pictures and shoots better video than the first Inspire model, let’s kick it up!

Perhaps they could make a detachable camera as well, the way they have it on the Inspire 2? It would really open up the doors for more sales and customization options on the Phantom series. The Inspire 2 currently has this and the same cameras you can change and attach to the gimbal, you can also use on their Osmo series.

Why not give the Phantom it’s own line of detachable cameras and also have them interlock with the Osmo? Not only that but because we already have an example of this with the Inspire 2 and there are amazing cameras, meaning if they take the same system they use on the Inspire, how hard would it be to mimic it on the Phantom series?

2: There needs to be a 360 camera rotation on the gimbal. 

No more of this up and down motion being the only thing you can do, let’s make it a full 360 rotation. Yuneec does it with their models, the Inspire models do it too. 

And no more propellers getting in the way of the footage! 

3: Add a 6th sensor (to the top).

The P4P has 5 sensors which cover everything but the top of the model. Let the P5 fix that. I’ve had more than one occasion where a lack of upward sensors. Being that the Mavic 2 Pro has it, there’s no reason the P5 shouldn’t.

4: More intelligent features such as BACKTRACKING.

Hear me out on this! Suppose you’re flying through a high risk area and the connection is lost. The drone will try to fly back but what if it lifts up and hits something on the way (lack of a 6th sensor can have this happen) OR it can’t go around or over a particular obstacle. 

Enter backtracking. A new feature I’d LOVE to see DJI add where if a difficult situation arises and the drone loses connection, that it can BACKTRACK the way it came into that area in the first place.

I have found that on tough flights where something goes wrong and I can’t fly the model any further and there’s obstacles everywhere, the safest thing to do is backtrack it manually as that was the original, safe path that got me there, so if the bird can record it’s current position, how it got their, the elevation changes and turns, it can use that if the need arises to safely return to the pilot.

A good example of this is if you’re flying between trees and avoiding the stumps, branches and so on. If connection is lost, what’s the first thing the bird will do? Fly up. But if you’re in an area with trees, you’re extremely likely to hit branches and other types of obstacles.

Certainly a 6th sensor helps avoid this possibility, but the bird won’t know where to go. But with a backtracking feature, it will know where to go and backtracking is the safest way for it to get back in the type of scenario I talked about. DJI, you can do this and you already do when the flight is recorded, but you can take it to the next level by doing this and it would GREATLY prevent accidents in the future. 

5: Add an internal USB storage, just like on the Mavic Air.

The Mavic Air has an internal 8GB storage, the P5 should come with at least a 16 GB storage. It’s just the right trend to follow at this point as it’ll be a huge selling point.

Besides that, more battery life, more speed are also going to be awesome.

Those are my 5 preferences. Which do you prefer out of that list and what would you like to see most?

I’m almost certain that most of you who read this and enjoy the Phantom series have already made your own predictions as well as wishes on what you’d like the next generation model to have. If what I mentioned on my list is different from yours, I’ve love to hear what you personally would love to see.

Maybe it can give DJI more ideas to work with as we draw closer and closer to seeing it’s unveiling 🙂

Update: September 2019. Still nothing but rumors on the P5.

When I wrote this article over a year ago, the Mavic 2 Pro hadn’t come out, and when it did, I did get it. While I prefer the P4P’s camera to it slightly, I cannot deny that my interest in my P4P died down because of the MP2.

I’m sure many people who also got their hands on it felt the same way, especially considering how much more portable it is and because in late 2018 and most of 2019, there haven’t been any major new drone releases, it is speculated that there’s no reason for DJI to release a P5 anytime soon.

Additionally, major add ons to the already large list of regulations have slowed down the drone hobby as of late and I’m sure this has added to things. If any new, news comes out on the P5, I’ll be sure to update the post.

5 Safety Tips For Flying Your Drone on The Beach.

I’ve flown my drone near beaches and found that while you can get great footage, that it comes with it’s own risks worth knowing about beforehand.

Because if you don’t, there’s a good likelihood that your model can be damaged. In about a month I will be traveling to a place where shooting footage on the beach is a must (Florida), but before I do, I’m going to make sure I have these 5 safety tips down, ones which I recommend you also consider:

Tip 1: Know if the beach you’re flying on is actually safe to fly in.

There are a lot of no fly zones for drones these days so knowing whether or not your chosen beach is safe or not is a must. Download an app like Air Map to know this stuff. Very often, it’ll tell you if there’s any restrictions in your area and/or if you need to contact the FAA for permission. 

The areas I’m going to for example have a lot of airports near them, and while I did see that my areas are 5 miles or more out (considered safe), I also saw some restrictions nevertheless on the Air Map app. This safety tip is one of the most important I can give you.

Tip 2: I wouldn’t recommend flying if it’s windy.

While many good drones out there such as the Mavic or Phantom 4 Pro are VERY wind resistant, the problem with beaches and high winds is that sand is everywhere and the last thing I want is for it to get into the vents or motors. 

I personally would not recommend using your model in this condition. Wait it out, it’ll be worth it. Also should you encounter a situation where it’s not windy and you are about to take the drone out and suddenly it becomes windy, make sure you at least have these motor plugs protecting your motors. They’ll make sure NOTHING gets in.

Here’s what it looks like on my P4:

But even more importantly, just keep your model in its case when you get onto the beach and analyze the situation carefully before proceeding to fly.

Tip 3: Don’t rely on landing it on the ground, catch it with your hands (if you’re experienced).

I really don’t like the idea of my expensive drone, landing on sand.

With it’s powerful propellers, you can bet that it’ll make a lot of wind and cause a lot of sand to fly around near it. So when I am ready to land it, I’ll make sure to catch it. This will help me avoid the potential for sand getting in.

And by the way, this tip also applies to take off as well. If you can use your hands to do it, do it. Or at least find a place away from the beach where there’s no sand to lift off in.

And while it’s also dangerous to catch a drone with your hands if you’re not experienced, make sure you practice first beforehand. Or at least land the drone away from the sand on land if you’re worried about getting cut.

Tip 4: Stay close to shore or at least in it’s vicinity.

I’ve made an article before on range tests and that beaches are sometimes the best places to do it because there’s a lot of open space, very little signal interruption and if you look at many of the range tests done on YouTube for example for the various models out there, they are on beaches.

But anyway, whether or not that is the purpose of your flight, my advice is to always stay close enough to shore or land for that matter so that if something happens, you can at least land on…actual land. Issues over water are the last place you want issues to actually happen…

So take those beautiful shots, fly over the water, but just do it so that you know you can come back to shore anytime without issues.

Tip 5: Try not to stay too close to the water.

Waves and the sea are unpredictable. Unless the water is so calm and there’s no storm or wind in sight/feeling, don’t stay too close to the water. You never know if a fish may pop up or some other sea animal may think of it as prey or accidentally jump into it. Its rare for this to happen, but why risk it if you have an expensive drone anyway?

And if your drone does get water damage, depending on what kind it is, will determine if you ever get to fly it again (Salt water is something you never want to get on or INTO your drone).

Also, here’s another safety tip:

Do not fly next to or close to or film people, especially those who are trying to relax and enjoy a good time. How would you like it if you were trying to relax and someone was flying their loud drone close or over you? Or what if the wind from the propeller was making sand get on them? That’s just rude and something you could be arrested for or start trouble from. Just stay away from people unless it’s yourself or a friend who knows you’re filming doing it.

In addition, since animals like seagulls are often present there, avoid them as well. I understand the curiosity to film birds, but their way of flying can be unpredictable and you don’t want to hurt a bird or your drone, so if you’re going to film them, stay out of their range. 

Other than this…

Enjoy the experience. Beaches are often one of the most beautiful places to film in. You can record wildlife/sea life (from a distance). Imagine taking shots of dolphins or whales and other sea life. 

Imagine filming the clear water. Imagine filming a beautiful sunset or even a storm (in the distance!). There’s so many things you could do with your drone in these areas worth trying out. But remember, be responsible about this stuff. A responsible pilot is the one that everyone should strive to be. It will help create less restrictive laws since they are that today because of irresponsible pilots…

A Drone Pre Flight Checklist. Do These 11 Things Before Flying.

I’ve developed a habit of making sure that I have 10 pre flight checklists crossed out before I fly my drone and I’d like to share them with you today.

Now if you are a fellow drone pilot, I’d like to ask you to also comment on this post and tell me what pre flight things you do before you use your drone because every pilot is different. 

Now most crashes occur due to the pilot’s stupidity and while not everything a pilot does correctly will guarantee a safe flight, the following 10 things will reduce and even remove most of the reasons why drones crash in the first place. This will save you a huge headache and a lot of money, especially if you own an expensive model…

And even though there’s 10 things I usually do, they honestly take a few minutes to be completed and considering how they reduce the risk of a crash (or fine) substantially, they are worth doing.

11) Make sure your battery has time to warm up.

If you haven’t used your drone in awhile and start it up, give it a few minutes to warm up, especially if it’s in cold weather. And like I recommend in this article, when you turn off the drone and/or take the battery out, do NOT charge it again until it cools down (give it 20 minutes at least!).

10) Ensure the IMU is calibrated before takeoff.

The IMU on a drone is one of the most important pre flight things you need to ensure is working well. It is basically the “internal computer” of the drone that measures a lot of different things such as the temperature, the speed at which it flies and a bunch of other important components that lead to a safe flight.

If you have a good model drone that does a check up of the IMU when you start it up, it’ll usually let you know if it’s necessary to do or not. Some pilots prefer to calibrate the IMU every time before a flight. I typically do it whenever the I get the notification. 

The point here is to NEVER ignore that notification if it pops up. If it does pop up, calibrate it, as it only takes a few seconds.

9) Ensure your compass is also calibrated.

The compass on the drone will usually pick up if there’s any metal in the area you’re seeking to take off from, which is why I NEVER suggest taking off near places which have a lot of metal such as bridges. These kinds of things typically mess with the compass of a drone and require that it be calibrated in order for it to fly accurately, lest you’re OK with flying in atti mode and risking a crash happening if you’re inexperienced…

Again, just like with the IMU: Ensure the compass is calibrated beforehand. My Mavic 2 Pro always gives me a compass calibration message when I try to fly in new areas and I always make sure it’s done.

Note: Don’t take off from a car, because that typically triggers compass calibration errors.

8) Ensure that you give your drone ample time to load up and show you that it’s OK to take off.

While lower end drones will typically not have this function, the higher end ones will. ALL of my DJI model drones take some time to load up and give me the green “good to go” sign that it’s fine to take off. Until I get that sign, I will never take off.

Depending on which area you wish to fly in, that “Green ok to go” sign may pop up quickly or take sometime to show up. I’ve had cases where even my best drones, took several minutes to show me that it was OK to fly.

What happens when you start up these kinds of drones is that they try to find a signal with the remote, satellites and so on and if you’re in a bad reception area, such as the mountains, that may take longer than if you were in an open field with a good connection.

Either way, let that load up time happen and don’t take off until you get the green sign that it’s OK.

And while it’s loading up, make sure the battery isn’t low!

7) Calibrate the gimbal just in case.

I tend to keep my drones in backpacks or special boxes that are designed to hold the model/s I own. But what I’ll usually do is I’ll drive to the area I wish to fly in, and during the drive, my car will hit bumps and turns. Now while my drone is safe in the case it’s in, the gimbal is very sensitive and will move around, even when it had a gimbal guard. That shaking may affect the health of the gimbal, which is why a calibration before takeoff is important. Do it.

This is also important to do if you haven’t flown your drone in awhile (several weeks and more).

6) Use the Airmap app to determine if it’s really safe to fly.

I always use this free app as one of my pre flight habits. The goal with this app is to make sure I am not violating any FAA rules in place, such as flying in national parks or near an airport and in my opinion, this is a great app for making sure this is fine.

If I see the OK sign from it (green), then I’ll continue with the unpacking and setting up of my drone. If not, I’ll ensure I move to a spot where it’s legal for me to fly.

5) Ensure your drone is on a flat surface.

A take off from an uneven surface may affect how the drone behaves and may increase the chances of a crash, so if it’s possible, find a flat surface. I don’t really recommend using your hand unless you’re an expert. It’s dangerous, so stick to a flat surface.

4) Check the surrounding area for wires, telephone poles, annoying people, ect…

I typically make sure that whenever I fly, I’m in an area where they are few or ideally NO people. I don’t like the attention I get from onlookers who are typically positive about the drone, but at the same time, I also look for things like telephone wires and most recently radio towers, as they can emit signals that can mess up my drone’s connection to the remote (see this near crash story).

My ideal take off area is in an open field (like a baseball sized field) with no people around.

3) Check the propellers.

I’m part of a drone community on Facebook and recently I received a notification someone posted about how they checked their propeller before attaching it onto the drone and noticed one of the parts that attaches to the model was broken. There were normally 3 attachments on the propeller, but with the broken piece, it was only 2.

This meant if the pilot hadn’t seen this and attached the propeller to the drone, it would likely have flown off and caused a crash. 

This was a major pre flight thing I decided to start doing and recommend you do it too. Most propellers are made of plastic and with the speed at which they spin, and/or if they hit debree, overtime, this can cause them to get damaged and possibly broken. Make sure your propellers are in one piece and nothing is broken.

If anything seems off, don’t use the propeller and have extras in store just in case. 

2) Make sure sports mode isn’t on.

High end models typically have this type of feature and it’s usually activated by switching on a button. Sometimes that button can accidentally get switched on when you put your drone in special case. It’s happened to me multiple times and once it’s up and flying, you may accidentally think you’re flying in one direction slowly, when in reality, it’ll happen quickly and this can take you by surprise. Crashes do happen because of this…

1) Do a pre flight examination of the area you’re going to fly in.

I typically use my drone in places I drive through which often happen on vacations when I visit spots I’ve never visited. When I see the potential to stop and take a great video/shot of the location. I first examine the area and see where I’d like to fly past and through. 

This gives me a “game plan” of what I’d like to capture. Going impromptu is also an option but sometimes those few seconds or even a minute of examining the area may have you see or find something that could have jeopardized the flight and if you notice it before hand, you’ll be able to avoid it.