How I LEARNED TO FLY A Drone

 The indesctructable Syma X5C

The indesctructable Syma X5C

I remember buying a small quadcopter with a basic camera on it from Amazon over a year ago. I wanted to use it to see if my house's rain spouts were clogged with leaves. I was excited to receive my new toy and start flying. Not understanding the control unit controls and how to properly fly the small drone, I crashed alot and got frustrated. Heck I had no idea which end was the front, let alone flying it back towards me and reversing the controls. 

So, how was I even to get the little drone up 40 feet to the level of the rain gutters? add on to that, how was I to position the little drone so the camera captured the state of the rain gutters. The mission seems simple enough until put into practice. I fell into the typical academia versus reality situation. Ya know, the bozos at work that draw theoretical bubbles on the white board all day without ever doing or getting things done. Well, I became one of those losers for a brief moment. It was a dirty feeling and I needed some time in my safe room to regain my sanity and focus.

With all of my sincere attempts to learn, I got the little drone stuck on my roof. Ugh. enough. I gave up. Yes the drone eventually came down with some coaxing of the propellers. I put the drone and controller in my closet and forgot about it. Back to the old school way of using a ladder to climb up to inspect the gutters. This practice alone accounts for many deaths and hospital Emergency Room visits. So, drones can save lives!

Flash forward to now, I start reading articles on Drones and their increasing presence in our world. I decided I need to learn more and sign up for Drone school and start learning all I can. I became a sponge, I love this stuff. After working as a software engineer contractor for the past thirty years in the government intelligence sector, I decided I wanted out. I hated the work I was doing and the contracting company for which I worked. Never work for a guy with a Phd. They are the non doers and just do not get it.

With my new insatiable appetite for all things drones, I quickly realized I could possible create a business doing drone work. But this required me to get an FAA Part 107 sUAS Remote Pilot Certification. This is where it got real, I always wanted to get my Private Pilot's license and studying for this test was pretty close to that of a private pilot ground school. Well, I studied and passed with a 97%. I missed two questions and honestly thought I did worse -- I blame the negative environment of the defense contracting world for my poor self esteem. :) 

 

Now what? So, I can now legally fly my drone for business. I realized I needed to find a niche and worse yet, how to fly a drone, or quadcopter. Enter the Syma X5C. This little beast cost $50 from Amazon and is very durable. I bought extra batteries and quickly practiced flying it. I installed the propeller guards to protect the drone and other objects. I practiced alot and kept logs of my flights. When I had trouble with more complex maneuvers, I quickly scoured YouTube for knowledge -- "The Teacher."

From this Star Trek like knowledge, I practiced what I had learned and became very good at flying the little Syma X5C without the aid of GPS or anti collision devices. This was raw flying and taught me how to work the controls and keep the drone from crashing. I had no need for the camera, so I removed this to get rid of the extra weight so I could fly longer and practice flying.

The other benefit of this was that I had to learn how to maintain and repair the little drone. From broken and bent propellers, to burnt out motors and broke prop guards. The other thing I learned was that there are two clockwise rotating motors and two counter-clockwise rotating motors. And that the forward and rear motors have one of each. So, you have best know how to install the correct propeller for the corresponding motor type or the drone will not fly.

Buying the Syma X5C proved to be a very wise move. The alternative would have been to buy an expensive DJI drone and become overwhelmed, crash it or worse yet, rely on the GPS mode and never truly learn how to fly a drone. Also, learning to fly and handle the small drone on windy days was great practice. I quickly learned how turbulence affected the little copter. 

One day I had a very bright idea and read the little Syma manual that came with the drone. Wow, I had no idea. Well, there is a high performance (Sport) mode you can select via the controller which makes the controller more sensitive and the drone more responsive. Flying this quadcopter has increased my piloting confidence. I am now looking to amp things up and purchase the DJI Phantom 4 Pro+ and start focusing on aerial videography and photographs.

“Without Knowledge, action is useless and knowledge without action is futile.”
— Abu Bakr

I write all of this not to merely say how much I like the little Syma, but top also inspire you to go out and try new things. Find a passion. Heck, I never thought I could pass an FAA Pilot's test, but I did, and I did well at it. The alternative of working in a moldy smelly government office is no longer an option for me. I refuse to go back to that world. I now am excited to focus on this new business venture. If this fails, it will not be for the lack of trying.

Jim Noss

Drone Dogs Media, 233 Golf Club Drive, Key West, FL, 33040

Originally from the heartland of Pennsylvania, Jim is a seasoned Principal Software Engineer by trade having worked in the Baltimore/DC area. With over thirty years working in the intelligence community and creating awesome systems to help our Warfighters. Jim started two small businesses while maintaining his software career. Now at the thirty-year mark of his career, he just grew tired of the bullshit and decided to leave the rat race and move to Key West with his family. Still trying to dabble in software development for the government customer in Key West, he quickly realized that he was done working for other narrow-minded people, He needed a change and needed to work for himself enjoying what he did on a day-to-day basis. 

Jim decided to pursue the Drone Life. Studying all there is about drone aerial photography  and piloting a drone. Jim received his FAA Part 107 sUAS Certification and started putting all his business and drone knowledge into practice. There was no going back to a crappy soul-sucking computer desk job. Life is just too damn short for that. 

Having passion, a strong work ethic and the attention to customer service, Jim is focused on building the most successful drone aerial service business in the Florida Keys and beyond. Jim is currently based in Key West and is working on getting waivers to fly, legally,  in the Class D restricted air space of Key West.

If you are interested in what services the Drone Dogs can provide, please contact our team today for a consultation.

FAA 107 LICENSED & INSURED sUAS PILOT