Any Advice For A New Drone Pilot?

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The unmanned aerial vehicles, quadcopters and/or aerobats we all call “drones” have become so commonplace that you can pick one up in a drug store along with your toilet paper and candy. I have big dreams of flying a fancy one, but today my quest begins modestly.

While I was off-roading across Peru last week, which you’ll hear a lot more about soon, my co-driver nabbed some unbelievably pretty pictures of our vehicles from his DJI drone. After he crashed it into a powerline and the poor thing fell into a river, I learned that the machine cost about $1,000. I also learned that they require some skill to operate.

But the images the drone came back with before its demise were so freaking cool that I was convinced I had to get in on this action. So I followed the advice of the internet and spent about $100 on a toy drone. A Syma X5UW, to be exact. Plus some spare parts and a bunch of extra batteries to help me learn the basic principles of drone piloting.


I chose this particular cheap drone because of Gizmodo’s recommendation, and the fact that it’s able to provide a first-person video beamed to my phone which will get me used to flying a more professional-grade aerobat.

By the way, have you heard them called “aerobats” before? I hadn’t until I cracked open the Syma manual, but I love this word now.


Anyway, the thing just came in off a bus from Amazon and is currently charging in my apartment. Meanwhile, I’m champing at the bit to get this little bird in the air.

Who has advice for me before I break it or hurt myself?