How To Get A Drone License – Complete Guide 2019

How To Get A Drone License – Complete Guide 2019

How To Get A Drone License – Complete Guide 2019

how to get a drone license

For the last decade, the drone industry has experienced an incredible influx of interest, with the number of unmanned aerial vehicles increasing at a drastic rate.

While all this is good news, right from the drone manufacturing, to drone retailers, to industries which can use these drones for financial or tactical gains all these advancements raise a number of questions with one of them being, is there a need to regulate the ownership and use of drones?

Truly, there is no a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer to this question since requirements and regulations differ from one location to another where the drone is been flown as well as the intended purpose.

In this article, we will discuss issues surrounding drone licensing and ultimately the steps towards successfully licensing your drone.

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Reasons for Flying a Drone

There are quite a number of reasons as to why one can fly a drone; nonetheless, the major reasons happen to be for recreational purposes or commercial purposes.

It’s also important to note that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has clearly provided clear guidelines regarding licensing for both recreation and commercial drone usage. Similarly, if you fly your drone indoors, then you don’t need to have a remote pilot’s license or even register your drone with the FAA.

If it happens you fly your drone outside for recreational purposes, then you will need to register your drone if it weighs more than 0.55 pounds. Fortunately, according to FAA, recreational pilots are not required to register or rather acquire licenses for their drones apart from meeting the weight requirements.

The FAA also allows one to fly their drone for recreational purposes if they are monitored by individuals with valid remote pilot licenses. However, the FAA has set a number of restrictions to which these recreational drones are to be operated, and the restrictions or such flights are as follows;

You must register your drone as an unmanned aerial vehicle.

You must adhere to the FAA Small UAS Rule; part 107

If you are flying your aircraft in a field, park or other areas where manned aircraft are not constantly passing, and there is no immediate threat to people or power lines you do not need a remote pilot’s license, but you need to register your drone.

On the other hand, if you are flying your drone for commercial purposes, then you are required to register your drone and at the same time acquire a license for it. For starters, you need to register your drone and at the same time obtain an airworthiness certificate for your drone.

Ideally, this certification is required for insurance purposes, and apart from that, you are required to follow all federal, state and local laws that revolve around operating a UAV and which include details like:

Recording capabilities.

Distance from federal buildings, schools, banks among others.

As well as obtaining a remote pilot license.

If the drone or the pilot are coming from a different country, then they must apply for a waiver exemption to operate the drone commercially.

Today commercial drone operations are becoming popular as well a big business thus more reasons that there is a need to regulate them as well tightening up the adherence to laws as well standards. It’s important that these standards and laws are tightened since today drones are reinventing old businesses and creating brand new businesses and they are widely applied in agriculture, architecture, delivery, emergency services, media among other sectors.

Requirements for Drone licensing

After getting a glimpse of the various applicability of drones its important to understand the various requirements for licensing a drone which is summarized below as per the FAA requirements:

You must be of 16 years and above

You must be of sound mind so as to operate your UAV safely

You must have a valid government-issued identification

Make a test appointment with any UAV/FAA approved test center and pass the test

Pay an amount of $150 to the testing company

You must pass the test

After passing the test, you can make an application for the remote pilot certificate

Lastly, you must perform a full background check with TSA

After you are done with the test, the FAA requires you to print out the remote pilot certificate that acts as a temporary certificate until you receive the original one. Whether you register your drone after this process or not is completely up to you; however, it’s highly advisable that you register it before you receive the original certificate so that you are ready to go once the license is issued.

Additionally, once you receive your license, you are required to keep it up-to-date by passing a recurrent aeronautical knowledge test which is carried out every 24 months. You should also be available to FAA upon request. Reporting of any accidents to the FAA within a period of 10 days is also crucial. Lastly, you are required to conduct a pre-flight inspection to ensure safe operation.

Cost Involved in Acquiring Remote Pilot License

As we have seen earlier, the testing cost is normally $150 which is supposed to be paid directly to the testing center where you plan on taking the test, and once you’ve passed the test there is no additional fee that you are required to pay.

Typically, the other involved costs to operate a commercial drone are fairly minimal. For starters, we have a $5 charge which is the registration fee for the drone which is mandatory, especially for commercial drones. Other costs involved are when establishing a company to operate your business, and for limited liability companies, it stands at about $150-$200.

How Long Does It Take to Acquire your FAA Drone License?

Fortunately, unlike other private pilot certification, FAA drone licensing does not require you to achieve certain mandatory milestones to be certified. The only thing that you need to consider is the period you will take to study as well as undertake the aeronautical knowledge test.

The period that you take to complete the test is the determinant of how long it will take you to receive your license. There are 2 ways to prepare for the aeronautical knowledge test. One is to use the FAA’s free online study materials which you can read more about here.

The second way and my most recommended method is to take a drone pilot ground school course. Drone Pilot Ground School is an online test prep course for commercial drone pilots looking to pass the FAA Aeronautical Knowledge Test for a Remote Pilot Certificate. You are taught everything you need to know and you are guaranteed to pass or they will pay your $150 fee.

For more information on Drone Pilot Ground School course, click the link above or the banner below. Everything you need to get started is there for you!

Once you are done with the test, the FAA takes about six to eight weeks to issue you with a permanent remote pilot certification. However, FAA issues you with a temporary certificate which allows the holder to exercise all privileges of the certificate.

How Much Can You Make with the FAA Drone license?

Ideally, for a full-time salaried position, one can make an average of about $33,000 to $79,000 annually. Through freelance and client-based work, you can make $200 – $300 per project; however; this can highly vary depending on how you select the prices of your services. It’s important to note that the amount you make highly depends on the costs of running the business as well the type of service you offer.

Exemptions: Part 61

Part 61 exemptions are part of a legislative instrument which exempts the holder from certain aircraft flight reviews. To this effect, part 61 is the specific exemption applicable for the UAVs, and it must be completed before the issuance of the license.

For eligibility, one must be a holder of a pilot certificate which its specifications are clarified under CFR 61. In other words, part 61 is a section of FAA that outlines the requirements for individuals who intend to obtain a remote pilot license or rating. This is a very important section since it provides details on what it’s required of someone during the training process so as to make them eligible.

Summary of Steps Towards Successful Remote Pilot licensing

Create an account or log in to your existing account at FAA

Complete the online training course on the FAA website

Create an account or log in to your IACRA account and complete the 8710-13 form

Make an appointment with an FAA-approved test center to validate your identity and eligibility

Once you pass the test, the representative will sign your application and issue you with a temporary license

Issuance of the original/actual remote pilot certificate

To this end, the above information should be informative and thus assist you in acquiring a part 107 remote pilot certificate for a commercial drone license. Above all, it’s important to note that the responsibility of a certified drone pilot goes beyond passing the test and acquiring a license and that the purpose of registration and licensing is to keep everyone safe.

See our complete guide to the FAA Part 107 online course here.

Hopefully, you enjoyed this article. Feel free to leave a comment below, we would love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for reading!

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FAA Part 107 Online Course- Complete Guide 2019

FAA Part 107 Online Course- Complete Guide 2019

FAA Part 107 Online Course- Complete Guide 2019

 

What is the FAA Part 107 test?

This is the written exam that is required by the FAA in order to be certified to operate your drone under the Small UAS Rule (Part 107). So you will be allowed to fly your drone commercially and earn money.

This test will certify that you understand all the requirements, rules and regulations, and safety procedures for flying drones.

 

Requirements to hold FAA license

In order to become a pilot you must have the following requirements:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Be able to read, speak, write, and understand English
  • Be in a physical and mental condition to safely fly a drone
  • Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge exam

There are approximately 700 locations in the United States where you can complete the exam. The full location list can be found here.

You will need to schedule an appointment with one of these testing centers and bring a government issued photo id with you.

 

How To Study For The Part 107 Exam

 

The FAA has a free online training course, which is intended for Part 61 pilot holders. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use complete the course as well. Anyone can access this training and use it for your own personal studying. Even non-drone pilots can register online and take the course.

 

A great option for learning some more general aviation content is the FAA published book the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge.

 

 

 

 

When studying for the exam, you will need to cover the following topics.

  • Applicable regulations relating to small unmanned aircraft system rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation
  • Airspace classification and operating requirements, and flight restrictions affecting small unmanned aircraft operation
  • Aviation weather sources and effects of weather on small unmanned aircraft performance
  • Small unmanned aircraft loading and performance
  • Emergency procedures
  • Crew resource management
  • Radio communication procedures
  • Determining the performance of small unmanned aircraft
  • Physiological effects of drugs and alcohol
  • Aeronautical decision-making and judgment
  • Airport operations
  • Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures

 

 

The Part 107 Fee to complete the exam is $150. It is compiled of 60 multiple choice questions broken down into the following:

 

#1. Regulations

#2. Airspace & Requirements

#3. Weather

#4. Loading & Performance

#5. Operations

 

Count on the exam questions to cover 10-15% of each section with more emphasis placed on regulations (about 15%-20%)

 

* Pro Tip: If you fail the exam on the first try, don’t worry about it! You can rewrite the test again in 14 calendar days.

 

So If you are going to start studying for the Part 107 written exam, I recommend that you consider taking a ground school course that will teach you everything you need to know.

Drone Pilot Ground School is an online test prep course for commercial drone pilots looking to pass the FAA Aeronautical Knowledge Test for a Remote Pilot Certificate.

Over 99% of our students pass on their first attempt.

 Here is what you will receive during the course:

70+ Video/Text Lectures. Access a curriculum built in partnership with a Gold Seal Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) and former Chief Pilot of a Part 141 Flight School to align directly with the FAA’s remote pilot certification requirements.

 

5 Practice Tests & 1:1 Support. Get ready to take your Part 107 Aeronautical Knowledge Test at your local FAA testing center with our lecture quizzes and 5 full-length practice tests. Get personal support via phone and email.

 

Flight Proficiency Training. While flight proficiency isn’t required by the FAA, we hold our students to a higher standard. Receive a Drone Pilot Ground School diploma when you pass our flight proficiency challenge.

 

 

Money-Back Guarantee. We’ll cover your testing fee (normally $150) if you don’t pass the FAA test after taking our course. With our 99%+ success rate, this rarely happens, but we have your back in case it does.

 

Lifetime Access. To keep your license, you’ll need to pass a recurrent FAA knowledge test every 24 months. Our students get lifetime access to our online training course, which we update regularly with the industry.

 

Real FAA Test Questions. Master the FAA’s test concepts with our database of 300+ multiple choice questions. After completing a practice test, you’ll be emailed a performance report and a breakdown of your incorrect responses.

 

 

 

Find out more about Drone Pilot Ground School by clicking the banner below and get started today!

 

 

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Learn How To Fly A Drone For Beginners (Complete Guide)

Learn How To Fly A Drone For Beginners (Complete Guide)

Learn How To Fly A Drone For Beginners

If you are a beginner looking to start flying a drone, there are some important steps to take note of which I will cover in this post. 

  1. Learn the rules & regulations of flying a drone and stay out of trouble
  2. Get familiarized with your drone
  3. How to use drone controls and aerodynamics
  4. Pre-flight checklist and considerations
  5. Takeoffs and landings
  6. Beginner drone flying techniques
  7. Drone safety tips
  8. Basic mistakes and how to fix them

Drones also commonly known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) has been a prominent controversial topic for the last few years and have swiftly been adopted by the public.

Drones have been in existence since 1917 when the first drone was invented, and it was a military drone. It was radio controlled, pilot-less and was based on the RC technology. Today, drones have become the most significant milestone of the 21st century since they are flown both figuratively and literally. Their use today has been diversified right from surveillance to photography, to search and rescue, to delivering packages and list goes on and on.

Everyone wants to familiarize themselves on how to use a drone for recreational purposes among other reasons, and if you are one of those people hoping to learn this new hobby, then this article is meant for you.

Below is a guideline that will help you acquire the skills as well mindset needed to learn on how to effectively fly a drone.

Step 1: Learn the Rules & Regulations of Flying a Drone and Stay out of Trouble

Ideally, many critics fail to address this as the very first phase towards learning how to fly a drone. However, this should be the very first phase since the learner needs to know what is fully required of them before they even engage in the learning process.

Learners need to know the rules and regulations that guide the flying of drones so that they can stay out of trouble even during the training process. For starters, before you even start flying your drone, you need to register it with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Even though you are flying your drone in your backyard, it’s a rule that you must register it first, and you can do it at the FAA drone zone website.

For you to complete the registration, you must be at least thirteen years old, and the registration cost is $5. It’s also important to note that the registration is valid for three years after which you are expected to renew your registration again. After registration, you should mark your drone with the registration number for easy identification purposes. You are also required to present your drone to the FAA for inspection.

After registration, you are required to familiarize yourself with the rules of flying your drone before your first flight and the rules include; flying only for recreation purposes or fun and ensuring that you follow the safety guidelines of the model aircraft community-based organization.

Fly up to 400 feet and not beyond that in uncontrolled airspace. Fly your drone within your vicinity. Never fly near an aircraft base. Never fly over or near emergency response efforts. You should also not fly your drone over unpermitted space either publicly or privately. If you intend to fly more advanced drone operations, then you should review the Part 107 Operation Waiver.

It’s also important that you as a drone operator to familiarize yourself with the rules of the sky; for instance, where it is safe to fly and where it’s not, drone safety tips, as well as airspace restrictions. Having done all these then you are good to go, you can freely learn on how to fly a drone since you know what you are up against.

Step 2: Getting Familiarized with Your Drone

This phase is also critical since it’s this stage where you get to familiarize yourself with your drone. You can use the user manual to gain an understanding of your drone as well as its features. The manual will also help you to understand the various controls function and how to use them as well when to use them.

Familiarizing yourself with the basic features of your drone, tips as well precautions within the user manual will even make the training process much easier since you will know where to locate certain controls and when they are effective to apply. In the same manner, many drones come with beginner modes and simulators which happen to be very effective for beginners since they allow you to get used to the various controls and this saves you time and keeps yours from making preventable mistakes that would otherwise hinder your learning/training process.

Step 3: How to Use Drone Controls and Aerodynamics

After familiarizing yourself with your drone, the next crucial step is learning how to use the drone’s controls as well as the aerodynamics. For starters, when it comes to the drones, you don’t have to worry about how different drones have varying controls since many drones within the market have a standardized controller layout which consists of buttons and sticks.

Although the appearance of some controllers might differ, the layout is the same. The remote controllers or rather transmitters normally operate a normal gaming controller with buttons and joysticks, so you need not to worry about the whole training process.

The drone controller has two sticks that are the left and right sticks. The left stick controls two aspects that are rotation (Yaw) and altitude (Throttle). For Yaw (Rudder), when you push the left stick left and right, you cause it to rotate clockwise and anticlockwise. This makes the drone face other directions without living its current position.

For the throttle on the other hand, if you push the left stick up and down, then you will be changing the drone’s altitude accordingly. Its normally used when flying the drone to adjust the height at which the drone is flying. The right stick controls the roll (Aileron) and pitch (elevator). When it comes to pitching you push the right stick up and down then you will be propelling the drone forward and backward accordingly.

If you use roll and you push the right stick left and right, then you will make the drone roll or rather fly along the right and left side accordingly. We also have the right and left trim buttons on the remote controller that help adjust the roll, pitch, yaw and throttle controls if they are off balance.

The drone aerodynamics are also key since they help you to maneuver as well know how to stabilize. For the maneuvering styles, there are two styles, and one is bank turn which is a consistent circular turn which either helps you move in a clockwise or anticlockwise direction, and it’s done by the yaw control.

Hovering is the other style where you can stay in the same position while airborne, and it’s done using the throttle. When it comes to stabilizing, you can either use the GPS hold (loiter) where it returns the drone’s position once the sticks are centered. Attitude (self-level, auto-level) can also be used once the sticks are centered. Lastly, you can use a rate manual (hard/Acro) where it holds the position of the drone so that it can note auto-level itself to its original position.

Step 4: Pre-Flight Checklist and Considerations

Before you get your familiarization into practice you should conduct a pre-flight checklist and consideration to ensure all is well and the following checklist should be considered:

 Check the physical condition of the drone and look for signs of breakage, cracks or wear on the propellers.

 Check the rules and regulations of the place you plan on flying the drone.

 Check to see if your batteries are fully charged as well if they have adequate power to fly the drone.

 Ensure that your controller is well and properly connected to the drone.

 Check also the weather to ensure that it’s not in a position to hinder the drone for effectively flying.

 Check to see if the play you plan on flying the drone is clear for takeoffs and landing.

 Ensure that your drones camera settings are well matched.

 Check to see if the memory card is well fitted to the drone in case you plan on filming or taking pictures.

 Ensure you notify anyone near the drone that you are ready to take off.

 And lastly, monitor the drone settings as you fly it.

Step 5: Takeoffs and Landing

This is actually the most important step after the familiarization of the drone, setting in the learning and training process for a beginner.

Before you take off, ensure that there the area you are flying the drone is clear to allow you to fly and control the drone freely. As you take off and land the drone, follow the following safety checklist:

 Power up the drone as you also monitor the battery levels as well as the drone settings.

 After you are satisfied that all is well, slowly increase the throttle to raise the drone some few inches above the ground.

 Hover the drone closer to the takeoff area as you continue to check the settings as well the battery levels.

 If you notice an issue with the settings, the battery levels or the drone quickly but slowly land the drone.

 As you land the drone announce to anyone near the landing area.

 Bring the drone to the landing area as you decrease the speed, slowly and gently then land the drone and ensure the propellers have stopped.

 When the drone is safe on the ground, and the motors have stopped, power the drone down and turn off the battery supply.

Step 6: Beginner Drone Flying Techniques

The very first thing you should do at this stage is to check your controls so as to ensure that everything is functional before you start the flight. You shouldn’t attempt to fly unless you are 100% sure that every control is working correctly.

After confirming that all is well, proceed and slowly increase the throttle until the drone is hovering about 2 inches above the ground. Since you are now familiar with the controls, try and slowly move them around to get a feel of how the drone reacts to your inputs.

If you start to feel like you’re losing control of the drone then quickly throttle down to avoid crashing the drone then repeat the same process slowly. After you are confident enough that you have passed the second part, then fly the drone a little higher that is after feeling that you are well acquainted with the controls.

Fly the drone repeatedly, land and fly to the next point for this will help you hover precision as well as improve your landing ability. Next, you have to learn orientation. This can be achieved by starting with the drone at 10 o’clock position then hover at the same position until you are sure enough that you can handle the next position.

After that, you can try other positions for perfection purposes. Next, you can try a nose-in-hovering where you operate the drone as it faces you; at this point, both the aileron and the elevator will be backward. To perfect your nose-in-hover, you can try it at different clock positions.

Lastly, you can try a nose-in-hopping by trying to land at the same position you took off only that this time the nose of the drone is facing in. This step is normally the hardest so take your time and learn.

Step 7: Drone Safety Tips

 Always ensure that you have spare batteries with you.

 Always have the landing pad with you since it can drastically become the break or make of the scenario.

 Get study maps to look for more safer places to fly the drone.

 Keep a safe distance and always comply with the FAA drone zone rules and regulation.

 Always store the drone in a protective bag.

 Don’t try to exceed your drone transmission range.

 And replace damaged propellers immediately.

Step 8: Basic Mistakes and How to Fix Them

One of the most common mistakes that beginner drone operators do is not complying with the law, but the one thing that they should do is to fly legally and follow the laws to the latter.

Flying drones near birds is also another mistake, and this can be fixed by avoid doing so at all for the safety of the birds and the drone. Flying drones beyond the operator’s vicinity, flying the drones within the operator’s eyesight is the only solution.

Don’t Fly Near Birds!

Beginners make the mistake of assuming that they don’t need to practice a lot, but in reality, they do for the purpose of becoming even better pilots.

Lastly, beginner drone operators make the mistake of flying the drone in a less open area, and this increases chances of either crashing the drone or even damaging it. Collectively, if you follow the oversteps then you will become a pro in operating drones.

Hopefully, you enjoyed this guide as you perfect your skills in flying your drone!

Related Posts:

Are you looking to take your drone addiction to the next step? For users wanting to pass the Part 107 exam, I recommend you check out Drone Pilot Ground School. Did you know that 99% of students pass the exam on the very first attempt? Don’t struggle with trying to figure out all the information and learning alone. Check it out by clicking the banner below!

Recommended Drones For Beginners

Holy Stone HS200 

Altair 818 Hornet

DJI Mavic Air Quadcopter

Best Affordable Travel Drones For Beginners(Under $100)

Best Affordable Travel Drones For Beginners(Under $100)

cheap travel drones

Best Affordable Travel Drones For Beginners (Under $100)

With the increase in popularity of drones these days, it’s no surprise that travel drones are becoming an important item on a travelers packing checklist. 

There is no better way to capture stunning images and video of your travels than by using a drone. The best part is you don’t need to spend a fortune on a drone to get really great quality and something that you will love.

But which drone is the best for travelers? What if you are a beginner? Don’t worry, there are many options available. From mini-drones to racing drones, there is something for everyone.

In this post, I will show you some affordable travel drones that are great for beginners all while staying under $100!

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Travel Drones For Beginners Under $100

Holy Stone HS200

This 6-axis, gyro quadcopter is perfect for beginners or intermediate users.

Features and specifications:

  • 720P FPV real-time camera – pair with your IOS or Android phone for live photo and video feeds
  • Altitude hold – maintains altitude when you release the controls
  • Mobile control – Use a smartphone app to activate functions like gravity sensor
  • Headless mode and return home function – if your drone is out of sight, this comes in handy
  • 6-axis gyro stability – easy handling and extra stability for smooth operation
  • 4 speed modes – great for beginners
  • USB power charging port
  • LED lighting system
  • One button push takeoff and landing – with one push of the button, this drone will take off and land on its own
  • Dimensions: 12.6 x 12.6 x 2.6 Inches
  • Weight: 17.6 oz
  • Charging time: 60 min
  • Flight time: 7-9 min


The Holy Stone HS200 is available on Amazon.

SNAPTAIN S5C WiFi FPV Drone

This WIFI FPV drone is another drone great for beginners. It’s easy to use control and voice commands is perfect for newbies!

Features and specifications:

  • User-friendly – one button takeoff and land plus return to home
  • Smart voice control – voice control allows you to talk to your drone and position it perfectly for photo/video shooting
  • Fully controlled by your smartphone using the app
  • Range of up to 80m
  • 720p photo/video quality – upload instantly using wifi
  • High-quality ABS material makes it durable and safe
  • Altitude hold function hold it steady in place
  • Built-in G sensor gravity control
  • Anti-collision barriers help protect the drone
  • 3-speed modes
  • Includes 2 batteries – charge time 60-90 minutes
  • Flight time 7-10 minutes
  • Dimensions: 13.9 x 9.7 x 3.3 in
  • Weight: 24.6 oz

The Snaptain S5c is available on Amazon.

Best Mini Drone Under $100

SYMA X22W

Compact and lightweight, a mini-drone is a great option for travelers. The Syma X22W is great for beginners, kids, and newbies!

Features and specifications:

  • User-friendly drone with one push button takeoff and landing
  • Headless mode
  • 720p video with real-time photos and video
  • Altitude mode allows for auto hover in position
  • Track control mode – allows you to track your flight path on your smart device
  • Gravity sensor control
  • Adjustable speed modes
  • One button 360-degree flips
  • Includes 2 batteries
  • Flight time 7-9 minutes
  • Distance: 25 meters
  • Battery charge time 60 minutes
  • Dimensions: 5.7 x 5.6 x1.2 inches
  • Weight: 2.5 oz


The Syma X22W is available on Amazon.

So there are 3 great choices if you are looking for an affordable travel drone. You really can’t go wrong with either on, but if you are looking for a mini-drone, stick with the Syma X22W.

For more information on travel drones with cameras, check out our post here.

If you enjoyed our best affordable travel drones guide, have a look at all our travel gear guides here:

Hopefully, you found this helpful. As always, feel free to leave a comment or send us a message anytime via our contact form.

Thanks for reading!

Are you looking to take your drone addiction to the next step? For users wanting to pass the Part 107 exam, I recommend you check out Drone Pilot Ground School. Did you know that 99% of students pass the exam on the very first attempt? Don’t struggle with trying to figure out all the information and learning alone. Check it out by clicking the banner below!

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drones for beginners

Best Affordable Travel Drones With Cameras

Best Affordable Travel Drones With Cameras

Best Affordable Travel Drones with Cameras

By: Enid Kathambi

best drones with cameras

 

Freezing your travel moments into pictures and videos is one of the best activities for a traveler. You want to keep these sweet memories of all the places you have seen and activities you have indulged in.

A camera is great but what happens when you want to take the kind of aerial pictures you only see in movies? You do know that this possibility is no longer a dream, right? Anyway, to get you out of that conundrum are drones. However, not every drone out there is ideal for a traveler. Also, you might be in need of a drone for your travel needs but your pockets seem to disagree.

We have taken the time to make your drone shopping experience pretty much straightforward. Here are the best affordable travel drones with cameras.

5 Best Affordable Travel Drones with Cameras

In no specific order, here we go:

Altair AA818 Hornet Plus Drone

 

You do not have to be a pro at drones to use the Altair 818 Hornet drone. What Altair Aerial has done is give you an affordable drone that you can count on for great pictures and long battery life. It is easy to use and light to move around with as a traveler.

For pictures, its wide-angle 720p HD camera will give you great ones. It can fly for 15 minutes for each battery. We say each because it comes with two batteries. So, if they are fully charged, you get to fly it for 30 minutes. Its hovering is also stable.

With it, you can take pictures and videos with a bird’s eye view right from your phone.

Pros:

  • Has custom route mode– you can customize the routes you want it to fly using your smartphone. The drone will just fly according to the route you have drawn.
  • To make the flying experience even easier, the drone has a headless mode, 1-button takeoff & landing, and altitude hold mode. The altitude mode holds the drone in position, which is great for pictures.
  • Has 3 flying modes: low-speed mode to high flying speed mode.
  • An alarm system that alerts you in case the battery is low or the drone gets out of range.

Cons:

  • A little bit big and does not come in a carrying case. It makes it a little bit tricky for a traveler to move around with. To beat this, you can buy a carrying case on your own. 

 

DJI Mavic Air Quadcopter

 

Compared to other drones form the same brand, the DJI Mavic Air Quadcopter is fairly priced. It has a minimum range of 4 km’s and a flight mode of 21 minutes. If you get yourself an extra battery, then you are assured of at least 40 minutes of shooting. For its prices, that is pretty much understandable. It is also the smallest and lightest drone from DJI’s Mavic Series.  

It has quite a number of intelligent flight modes that you can use to capture breathtaking pictures and videos with. You don’t have to operate the drone manually if you take advantage of these modes; Smart Capture, Active Track, Tap Fly, and quick shots.

The drones Advanced Pilot Assistance System (APAS) uses the forward camera, backward and down-facing sensors at once. This helps it adjusts its flight path accordingly in case it detects any possible obstacles. It has a storage of 8GBs and has a Micro SD card slot in case you need a larger memory.

Pros:

  • Easy to fly and can be used even by a beginner.
  • It has a high-quality camera that will leave you with pictures and videos of great quality. You can even take slow-motion videos! 
  • For a traveler, it is very portable with no much hassle thanks to its 3D foldable design.

Cons:

  • Compared to other Mavic Air series drones, its battery life is not that great.

Holy Stone HS160 Shadow

 

With over a thousand reviews on Amazon, 4.1-rating, and a surprisingly low price than any other drone on the list, the Holy Stone HS160 drone leaves you with a Holy Cow! expression- no pun intended. If you are looking for a drone that gives you videos of great quality, then this might just be the right pick for you. 

It has a flight time of 8-10 minutes, pretty much low from other drones in our list. However, for a small drone and its price, it is worth it. To beat this, it comes with a spare battery so you do not have to rely on just one battery when out there getting yourself cool videos.

Its size is also great for a traveler- quite portable and foldable for packing in your backpack.

Pros:

  • Has APP control system, which you can use to operate the drone with WIFI using your phone. It is compatible with both iOS and Android systems.
  • One key for both starting and landing the drone. You do not have to be a pro when it comes to drone to operate this one.
  • Very affordable and easy to carry around.

Cons:

  • The battery life is not that ideal for those looking forward to staying out for long taking pictures and videos. 
  • The quality of its images is low compared to the others on the list.

DJI Spark

 

DJI are known for their drones of great quality. Apart from the Mavic Air series drones, they have quite a number of other drones that are viable for a traveler looking for an affordable drone.  The DJI Spark is affordable and easy to use- even for a beginner. Its flight time is 16 minutes, and a maximum flight range of 2km. with a spare battery, you can get up to 32 minutes of flight.

It has a 1080p camera for pictures of great quality, and a 2-axis gimbal stabilizer for keeping the camera steady when flying the drone. It has intelligent flight modes, and you can fly it from your phone if you have a Wi-Fi connection.

Pros:

  • Has 3 different flying modes, our favorite being the gesture control mode. This one allows you to fly it by gesturing with your hands. You just need to direct the gestures to the drone’s camera and you are good to go.
  • It has FaceAware feature for quick launching. By just recognizing your face, it will launch and fly.
  • Easy to carry around as a traveler and is affordable.

Cons:

Only has 2-axis gimbal, which does not make it as stable as the 3-axis gimbal feature when flying.

VOOCO X-Star Premium Drone

 

With a flight time of 25 minutes, a flight range of 2km, and a maximum speed of 60pkh, this is one of the highly priced drones in our list. However, the VOOCO X-Star is worth it.

Its camera is one of the best on our list. It can shoot 1080p at 120 frames PS, 2.7k at 60 frames PS, and 4k at 30 frames PS (Per Second). Additionally, the camera is attached to a detachable 3-axis gimbal for stability when flying- this has to be the best on the list!

The good thing about the detachable cameras is that you can upgrade it when the company releases an upgrade, thus saving you some bucks.

Pros:

  • Its 4K camera is attached to a removable Gimbal. Save some money when they upgrade the camera instead of buying a new drone.
  • Comes with a hard case, intelligent battery, and a 64-GB MicroSD card.
  • Easy to use even as a beginner.

Cons:

  • Does not have intelligent flight modes like the rest on the list.
  • A little bit heavy.

What to look for in a travel drone

Weight

When on the road, the last thing you need is something to weigh down, including the drone you get. Look for a drone that is small and light in weight.

Packing

For ease and less headache on the road, go for a drone that is easy to pack, especially in your backpack. Others come in their own carrying cases while others don’t. But if you can get a drone that is foldable and easy to pack with your luggage then you will be much better.

Battery life

How long will the battery last? A short battery life will limit your shooting time. To be safe though, regardless of the flight time your drone offers you, get a pair of extra batteries. Even 2 or 3 pairs.

Flight range

The longer the flight range of a drone the more the freedom you have shooting in an area. A wider flight range gives you a chance to shoot pictures and videos of areas that a bit far from you, even 4kms with some drones. This comes in hand on areas with water or hills.

Camera and Gimbal

As much as we are looking for affordable drones, the camera has to be considered. You don’t want to go visiting breathtaking sceneries only for the camera to let you down. If it can shoot 4K or 1080P and has a 2 to 3-axis gimbal, you are good to go.

Happy shopping! And we hope you share those memorable pictures you take with your drone.

 

If you enjoyed our best affordable drones with cameras guide, have a look at all our travel gear guides here:

 

Hopefully, you found these guides helpful. As always, feel free to leave a comment or send us a message anytime via our contact form.

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How To Travel Internationally With A Drone

How To Travel Internationally With A Drone

How to travel internationally with a drone

 

By: Mieke Leenders

 

drone hovering at dusk

How to travel internationally with a drone

 

The way we enjoy our travels has always been subject to great change and with the rise of technology for personal and recreational use, we can now add some new and exciting gadgets to our travel essentials.

The drone is a perfect example of how technology originally designed for military purposes, quickly found its way to the commercial and scientific sectors, but also for recreational use. Whether it is to take stunning aerial photos and videos, receiving a quick overview of the area around you, race against other drone users or just for the pure fun of flying it, recreational drones are becoming more and more popular and as a result, laws, and regulations are now starting to take effect.

Read further for our tips on how to best prepare yourself for a trip with your drone and which regulations to follow onboard a plane as well as in the countries you plan on visiting.

 

image of man flying a drone

How To Travel Internationally With A Drone

TSA policy for drones

 

Traveling with sensitive equipment can always be a bit of a challenge especially when most rules and policies almost seem to be designed to give you a hard time. But like with everything, familiarizing yourself with the process in advance will make everything go a whole lot easier.

There are no specific rules prohibiting drones at the airport and they are allowed through the checkpoint. But as for the further procedures, whether you can pack them in your carry-on bags or checked bags, the Transport Security Administration (TSA) advise you to always check with the airlines specifically. Of course, it would be best to keep your drone with you at all times if only to have your own responsibility for it and avoid the possibility of loss or damage along with your checked bags.

Make sure you don’t only research the regulations for the drone itself but also anything else you will bring along with it like spare batteries. Rechargeable lithium batteries, as used for most drones, are generally permitted in your carry-on bags when under 100-watt-hours. For batteries of this size, you can take an unlimited amount with you on the plane.

For the larger ones, you may encounter some restrictions and should consult your airlines. When in doubt, don’t forget to consult the FAA list of hazardous materials for information on which materials are considered safe and which will be prevented from being taken onboard.

When keeping these tips in mind, there is really no reason to expect any difficulties when boarding the plane with your drone.


How to pack a drone for your travels

The Drone

For air travel as well as for the road, it is essential to invest in high quality, protective traveling gear for your drone. Not only will you protect it against damage, but when handling your equipment professionally you are also far less likely to encounter problems at the airport.

If you want a great example, check out the Powerextra Waterproof Carrying Bag. The lightweight, as well as the small size, makes this bag ideal as a carry-on item and the waterproof material makes it suitable for outdoor use as well.

This is, of course, a fully functional backpack but if you are only looking to pack your drone in a suitcase and don’t want a separate backpack, consider investing in a protective case. The Khanka Hard Case is an example specifically for the Holy Stone F181 RC Quadcopter Drone but the concept is ideal for those who want to keep their drone in their luggage. Look out for similar qualities like the sturdy outer material and soft interior with Sponge and Mesh Pocket.

The batteries

 

Drone battery

Drone battery

 

 

Lithium-ion batteries do carry some level of danger in terms of short-circuiting and causing subsequent damage. Even though safety mechanics are built in and you can avoid this by taking some care yourself, it is not a bad idea to further assure the airlines of its safety in your choice of luggage.

Next, to the precautions you can take in selecting specialized bags, you can also purchase a small Lipo Battery Fireproof Bag for under 6USD or some bigger ones if you wish it, all at a low price. For some of you, it might seem like an investment not worth making, but anything to make procedures run more smoothly and avoid unlikely but possibly dramatic damages should be welcomed.


Drone friendly countries and/or areas

 

no drone flying sign

No drone flying sign

 

In your more recent travels it is likely you have come across signs that forbid the use of drones in certain areas. I saw such a sign when I was visiting Teotihuacan in Mexico earlier this month. However, while climbing Piramide del Sol, I saw two drones flying by.

According to the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH), you won’t break any droning laws as such but since a drone is seen as specialized photography equipment, you will be required to request a permit before you can take photos or videos to be requested through the website at least 10 days in advance.

The current rate for this stands at 10,227 pesos (about US $507) if you want to shoot a video or 5,113 pesos ($253) if you only want to take photographs. Next, to that, you will only be able to use your drone during visiting hours.

I came across this article while researching the exact regulations after seeing those drones. A photographer had taken some breathtaking early morning photos of the pyramid at Chichén Itzá where, as it is an archeological site and so subject to federal laws, the same rules apply. Not only did he neglect to get a permit but the fact that he took the photo before opening hours, meant that he was technically trespassing and his actions were therefore considered illegal.

I share this story with you in order to make you aware of how specific droning laws can be in certain areas. You can’t simply google which country allows them or not and then fly them all over the place taking photos as you please. Especially since some countries, even some that are highly visited by tourists, don’t allow them at all.

So how can you best keep up with the latest news in what is permitted and what not? Especially since these laws are always subject to change with the increase of awareness about drones and drone technology.

One way is to install DroneMate, the app designed by Anil Polat, blogger and computer security engineer at foXnoMad. Available for both Android and iOS, this app is regularly updated according to official sources and lists the droning laws and restrictions for every country in the world. Including offline features, you can remain updated at any time and avoid the hassle and also the expense of, perhaps sometimes unintentionally, breaking the droning laws.


Flying drones in Europe

 

painted hands showing the world

 

If you are thinking of traveling to Europe with your drone, we would still advise the use of the above-mentioned app. But Europe also has a website specifically aimed at recreational drone users. Dronerules.eu explains that most European countries allow the recreational use of a drone, in the context of races or private photography, but also mentions that this freedom of use does not mean there are no restrictions.

The video on the homepage shares some general rules and regulations focusing on three main points that apply to every country regarding the respect for privacy, flying according to safety rules and always making sure you are insured. These may seem very simple and straightforward but make sure you respect these rules as breaking them might be perceived as a criminal offense. And as always, check the details of the countries and areas you are visiting so that you are never unpleasantly surprised.

Are you curious about all the amazing places you can visit with your drone? Here are some great options specifically for European drone travelers to give you some inspiration;

Iceland and Scandinavia

 

Iceland Rock Formation

Iceland Rock Formation

 

I have mentioned Iceland and Scandinavia before as places of unparalleled charm. Since they are that even when only on foot, just imagine what otherworldly beauty you can capture from the air. From Northern Lights to glaciers, fjords and piercing blue lakes surrounded by icy peaks, you are guaranteed to capture poetry in motion.

Spain – Barcelona

 

Tibidabo Barcelona Catalonia

Tibidabo Barcelona Catalonia

 

Barcelona is the city of Gaudi. In his ingenious use of shapes, colors, and patterns, his architecture can offer a unique beauty as seen from below as well as above. In his great attention to detail, even the rooftops are artworks on their own. In this make sure to include places like Casa Mila and of course Sagrada Familia in your little flight across the city.

Greece – Meteora

 

Oia Santorini Village Greece

Oia Santorini Village Greece

 

The moment I saw Greece’s sky monasteries, I was both utterly moved and slightly saddened. When you see such hauntingly stunning landscapes, you almost instantly wish you could fly and fully immerse yourself in it. With your drone, you might not be able to fly yourself, but you can certainly capture the desire to do so.

Belgium – Gent, and Bruges

 

Ghent Belgium river

Ghent Belgium river

 

In my completely unbiased opinion as a Belgian, I add the cities of Bruges and Gent to the list. The open-air museum that is Bruges offers urban as well as religious architecture dating back to the early middle ages. Gent, in turn, must seem stunning when approached from the air and especially when Gravensteen, the great 12th-century castle adorning the very heart of the city, becomes the focal point of your visual journey.

Some final tips

  • Just before you start flying your drone, always recalibrate it. It takes very little time to do and could prevent some problems.
  • Always carry at least one fully charged battery as a backup when out and about using the drone.
  • Make sure you use a cleared SD cards before takeoff.

 

Conclusion

Apart from making the necessary preparations in terms of traveling gear and the understanding of TSA regulations as well as the FAA list of hazardous materials, the main thing to remember is that you have to be completely aware of the laws in the countries you plan on visiting with your drone.

Make sure to constantly keep updated as these laws are relatively new and still prone to change. Install the DroneMate app and check governmental websites at all times. It would be a real shame if you were to lose your drone or pay a hefty fine over some misunderstanding of the rules.

Some countries will make flying your drone more difficult than others but the idea of droning technology entering the recreational realm hasn’t fully been accepted by every country yet. We remain positive that acceptance will follow in almost all countries and perhaps one day will be so liberal in its laws, that only the safety and privacy rules will apply and other bureaucratic procedures abandoned. But for now, we have to take it as it is.

So take good care of your drone, inform yourself, visit some gorgeous places and enjoy the flight!

If you enjoyed our how to travel internationally with a drone guide, have a look at all our travel gear guides here:

 

Hopefully, you found these guides helpful. As always, feel free to leave a comment or send us a message anytime via our contact form.

Thanks for reading!

Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means we may receive a small commission if purchases are made through those links at zero cost to you. I will only sell and recommend products that I have either used personally or believe will be helpful for you. You will only see proven and trusted gear, and I will help guide you away from the products that simply don’t work!

 

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