For many years I have thought about buying a drone. With so many shows available showing aerial video of beautiful places around the world it, having a drone would enable me to realize that same experience on my own.
On a recent trip to Costco I noticed that they had a great deal on a Drone bundle, with great features. I was sold.
My first flight of the drone was fantastic. Yet about a week after I bought it I also had my first crash, which was not so fantastic.
As they say, what goes up must come down. What on earth happened?
Looking for a Drone
There have been so many shows on TV showing aerial photography of places around the world that the concept of aerial video or photography has become fascinating. Aerial America, Canada Over the Edge, Italy from Above, Europe from Above, Aerial Asia, and on and on. The visuals are absolutely breathtaking.
Those shows created my desire to have a drone of my own many years ago so that I could see some semblance of the same visuals wherever I happened to be.
But I wanted a drone with certain specifications. I wanted it to be able to go long distances, to have great altitudinal range, and reasonable battery life. I wanted a drone that was lightweight enough so that I could fly it without having to require official training and licensing in order to put it in the air. I was only going to use it for recreation and not for commercial usage. And I wanted a drone with high resolution video and picture taking ability.
On a recent trip to Costco for other things I came in the entryway only to see a drone bundle on display in the very first aisle as you enter the store. It looked incredible. It was a DJI Mini 2 bundle and it met all of the criteria I was looking for. 10km range; 4k video; less than 250g; extra batteries. I was hooked. I didn’t enter the store thinking I would be getting a drone that day, but I certainly left with one.
Love at First Flight
When I got home I unpacked the drone, read all the instructions, charged the batteries, and downloaded the DJI app. I was ready to go. The next day I took my drone out for its maiden flight. It was amazing. The size, the speed, the agility, the maneuverability, and the visuals were indescribable.
I made a number of practice runs. My level of confidence with the controls and the settings was low. I needed to gain more experience which would only come with practice. I flew the drone around my immediate neighbourhood at first. I increased the altitude, I sent it out a little longer, and I played with the controls. Every single flight was sheer joy.
When I wasn’t flying my drone I was doing research on it. I wanted to understand all of the features that were available and how to use them. I wanted to learn from the experiences of more seasoned drone pilots. There was a lot to learn.
Additionally I wanted to know what accessories I needed to maximize the drone experience. Extra batteries and a charging station were a must. I needed a microSD card for memory storage. I needed some lightweight landing gear and strobe lighting, all while keeping the weight under 250 grams.
I wanted to be able to fly the drone over our lake, and perhaps other bodies of water, so I looked for water landing gear. The fear of flying over water and crashing the drone and losing it was on my mind. In all I made a list of all of the accessories I wanted and started buying them one by one to augment my drone experience.
I had about a half an hour of time to fly my drone. I endeavoured to fly it farther and higher than I had to that point. I flew it in our downtown area up the Main Street. I flew it over churches and apartment buildings and a nearby lake. The visuals were stunning, offering a vantage point I had never experienced or imagined. After the success of this flight I brought the drone back home to me.
But then I thought I still have a few minutes left. I will just take the drone around my immediate street. The street was oval and I would fly the drone along the street looking down at the residences. I started the flight and as the drone rounded the corner I used the screen to watch were it was going. I kept the drone low, just over the rooftops, looking down at the street. It would only take a couple of minutes to circle the route.
Suddenly I saw on the screen the base of a tree entering the picture and branches filled the screen. Before I knew it the video screen showed the drone tumbling in air and crashing to the ground. I had hit a tree!
Recovery and Repair
Luckily the drone was not far from where I was standing. I didn’t need the “Find My Drone” feature (this time) and within a few minutes I found and picked up my fallen flying machine. The camera and gimbal were dangling out of the front. One of the propeller arms was broken off. There was a crack in the frame. And all of the propellers were either broken or missing. Ugh.
One of the features I had wanted, which wasn’t available in this model, was obstacle avoidance sensors. Too late now.
When I was researching it I did come across a local DJI authorized sales and repair shop. While I didn’t realize I would need it at all, let alone so soon, I knew where it was and took my stricken drone there for some repair and tender loving care. Now I would have to wait to get it back and try my luck again.
One of the accessories I had looked at, but dismissed because of the weight, was propeller guards. But now I knew I would need them, at least in some conditions, so I ordered a set to help mitigate any further damage I may cause.
I also started looking at various YouTube videos and came across a lot of drone crash compilation videos. Needless to say I was far from alone. People flew their drones into trees, building, rocks, water, vehicles and more. Small consolation for not having mine, but I was surely not alone in going through this experience.
Having my drone back is great. It’s a tremendous amount of fun flying it, even as a novice. I certainly highly recommend getting one for those who have that interest.
But be patient, give yourself and your drone lots of room and lots of time. Take any precautionary measures you can including getting protective gear for it.
And just enjoy flying!