Top 5 Mistakes Made by Drone Pilots

While flying or even just handling a drone, a mistake can lead to quite serious consequences.

For this reason I suggest you read with care this insightful article by Aaron Colley, owner of getadrone, as it could save you time, money and some serious trouble in the future. Thank you Aaron for this great contribution!


by Aaron Colley

It goes without saying that jumping into the expansive and complex world of drones, is no easy task. For novices, the drone world can be overwhelmingly complicated, and at times seem impossible to figure out. With that said, we can all agree that it’s highly probable that mistakes will be made, it’s just a matter of “when” and not “If”. So that’s why we’ve decided it would be a great idea to expose the top 5 mistakes made by drone pilots, and hopefully prevent anyone else from making the mistakes themselves.

Mistake #1

Over Estimating Your Flying Skills

A drone that crashed during a flight
A drone that crashed during a flight

One of the most common mistakes for both beginners and advanced pilots alike, is overestimating their own piloting ability. For beginners, the case is usually moving onto bigger more expensive drones far too quickly. They figure if they can fly their micro drone in the bedroom without injuring their pet cat, naturally it must be time to buy an Inspire Pro and fly over New York City! No, please DO NOT do this! This has led to so many accidents, fly-always, and horrifying stories. Take your time when starting out, starting from a micro drone, move to a smaller toy drone, then to cheap camera drone, then maybe to a phantom, and possibly after a year or so flying the Phantom you can progress to something a little larger and more expensive. This will help you avoid a ton of headaches, believe me, you’ll thank us later.

Now for all of you advanced pilots out there, as good as you might think you are, you’re not exempt from this all too common mistake. Advanced pilots have a tendency of becoming way too confident in their own abilities. It’s not a bad thing, everyone does it at one point or another but it really can be a costly mistake. What tends to happen is you’re out flying your shiny new DJI Mavic with some friends, and you’ve got a point to prove. You bet 100 bucks that you can fly over that 500 foot bridge, and back under the other side… while blindfolded! Okay well it’s not always that extreme, but you get my point. Soon after making that bet, you proceed to fly over the bridge only to fly straight into a support cable. Not only did you lose the bet, but you also lost your shiny new drone, along with most of your dignity. Don’t do it! Respect the drone, respect others safety, and respect your own capabilities as a pilot.

Mistake #2

Choosing the Wrong Drone

Hi-tech multicopter with camera in brushless gimbal and autopilot
Hi-tech multicopter with camera in brushless gimbal and autopilot

Another all too common mistake is drone pilots purchasing a new drone only to find out it’s missing a certain feature they wanted, or it flies terribly, or they’ve crashed it and can’t find parts anywhere! This is mostly due in part to shopping for your drone in the wrong places. You want to shop with a trusted retailer, someone who has dedicated the majority of their efforts specializing in drones. They will have a far greater knowledge base and a greater passion to assist you when you run into issues as opposed to buying your drone at Walmart where they likely won’t know the difference between a drone and a lawnmower.

I won’t spend any more time on this one, just do yourself a favor and read our guide on choosing the right drone here:

Mistake #3

Powering-On Your Drone While Moving

This is such a common mistake that it’s almost frustrating. Your drone is equipped with all kinds of sensitive sensors and flight instruments, one of them being the gyro. The gyro is responsible for telling your drone which way is up and which way is down, and every other orientation in between. Think of it as how humans use our inner ear for balance. The gyro has an incredibly high rate of malfunctioning if not initialized properly. The most common way drone pilots fail to initialize the gyro correctly, is by powering on their drone while walking around with it in their hands. Every time I see this I just cringe, and proceed to watch their drone flip and twirl through the air as they try to maintain control. Take the time to set your drone on the flattest surface available, plug it in, and let it sit until all the systems are fully initialized. Once everything has been initialized you can move it wherever you want without a problem.

Mistake #4

Not doing a Pre-Flight Check

Man using drone RC remote
Man using drone RC remote

More often than not, drone pilots unpack their drone, power it up, and take off. This really is a terrible practice. A pre-flight check can literally save you thousands of dollars in the long run. I have been flying RC aircraft for 8 years, and I’ve prevented over a dozen catastrophic failures by discovering an issue on my pre-flight check. Pre-flight checks are so important that commercial drone pilots are mandated by law to conduct pre-flight checks before every single flight. Yet, the average joe drone pilot seems to ignore this practice completely, and it results in countless avoidable accidents. The reason pre-flight checklists are so important, is because things happen. A prop might be loose or cracked, your landing gear might be hanging by a thread, a motor mount might even be coming apart. Any of those things can be avoided and discovered on the ground before you take off. Simply get into the habit of checking every single propeller, give the motors a shake, pull on the landing gear, and just visually inspect the aircraft for cracks and/or damage. Believe me, at some point in time you will find something, and you’ll thank us for getting you into the habit of checking your drone before each and every flight.

Mistake #5

Not Understanding Drone Laws

This is a big one, and of all the other mistakes on the list, this one can potentially result in the largest financial dent. The penalty for breaking drone laws range from fines, to jail time. Of course, don’t expect jail time unless you’re seriously pushing the limits… Unless you’re following the president out of the White House with your Phantom 4, you’ll probably be okay. But none the less, fines for not complying with drone regulations can be upwards of a few thousand dollars. Way too many recreational done pilots simply think that because they’re flying for fun, no rules apply to them. That is definitely not the case, take the time to research drone regulations in your Country & State, it’s extremely important to do this not only as a beginner, but also do so on an ongoing basis. Regulations are constantly changing, and you’ll need constantly keep an eye out for any new rules or regulations in your region.

Going Forward

Hopefully you’ve taken this article to heart. If you implement the strategies mentioned above, you’ll be doing yourself, and everyone around you a huge favor. If you’re just getting started in the drone world the first step before you can implant any of our tips, is purchasing the right camera drone. We’ve compiled a list of the top 5 drones of 2016. You can take a look at that here:

As always, thanks for reading and happy flying!

Written by Aaron Colley of

Stay tuned on the Personal Drones Blog for the latest quadcopter and multirotor news!

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