How Hard is it to Fly a Drone? Insights from a Beginner


Drone flying is becoming quite popular nowadays not only for RC enthusiasts but also for regular people who want to get their hands on a drone so that they can do all sorts of different aerial shots and selfies. That said, there are more beginner drone flyers entering the field now than ever because of how popular drones are becoming, and how accessible they are to the average person. As drone flying can be quite dangerous, it is essential for these beginners to know how to safely get started flying a drone. But how hard exactly is it for a beginner to fly a drone?

Drone flying is actually fairly difficult, especially for a beginner with no practical background in flying anything remote-controlled. This is why many beginners take flying courses or start with flight simulation software. It is always best to know the basics first before actually flying a drone.

It might not look like it, but drone flying is actually quite difficult, and possibly even dangerous. Experts and experienced RC enthusiasts may make it seem so easy because it is already second nature for them to fly a drone. But if you’re a beginner who is getting your hands on a drone’s controls for the very first time, be prepared for a steep learning curve, especially if you never tried practicing with a simulation tool, or if you don’t have any practical background in driving or flying remote-controlled objects.

Is Flying a Drone Hard?

Just because it seems like everyone is jumping on the drone hobby bandwagon, you may be under the impression that it is not actually difficult to fly a drone. After all, if it is difficult to be the one behind the controls of a drone, not that many people would be starting this hobby as a beginner, right? But every drone enthusiast has to start somewhere, and almost all beginners face the initial challenge of learning the controls. 

The truth is that, for the most part, it actually is quite difficult to fly a drone because of the very fact that you are behind the controls of a pretty fragile device that can easily crash and get broken when you make a simple mistake while flying it. 

That said, even those who have experience in flying drones or anything that is RC-related may still say that manual drone flying is actually difficult. However, it has already become second nature to these people as they are already used to the controls and the different ins and outs of drone flying. Still, that doesn’t mean that they don’t find flying drones hard at the beginning. 

Even the more experienced drone enthusiasts may still say that drone flying can be a bit complicated but is something that they have gotten used to and mastered. In that regard, it is also something that you could also get used to as you go along and gain experience the more you fly a drone. Just don’t expect it to be as easy as it looks, especially the first few times you’re practicing.

Can a Beginner Actually Fly a Drone Well?

That said, now that you know that flying a drone really isn’t something that is easy even for those who already have experience in the endeavor, you might be wondering if a beginner can actually fly a drone well in his first time flying a drone.

It depends in part on the type of drone in question. But the most simple answer is, no. The chances of a beginner flying a drone completely smoothly and with no mistakes during the first or even the second time of flying are practically nil

However, if the drone comes with a lot of automatic flight features, where the drone can essentially fly itself, the chances of first-time success are higher. The learning curve in this case is in the form of learning how the preprogrammed flight selections work. The drone takes care of the rest, making you look like a pro.

But for those relying on old-fashioned flight controls, it really does take a lot of practice, and it’s not going to come automatically in the first flight or two. That’s because drone flying takes a lot of building up hand reflexes to make smooth, error-free flight second nature. If you want to learn this without endangering your drone, a good way to learn is not in real life but in simulations.

If you happen to want to know how difficult it can be to fly a drone, you can download drone flying simulations that will allow you to get behind the controls of a simulated drone so that you can use your phone or a controller to pilot a drone and learn the different controls that you need to master so that you won’t end up crashing a drone.

For beginners, using a simulator is also something that will take some time to adjust to. You can just imagine how difficult it would be to actually fly a real drone in real life. And the difference here is that the obstacles, the wind conditions, and the chances of crashing the drone are all real when you are flying an actual drone instead of flying one in a simulation.

All that said, beginners might not want to try to learn how to fly a drone using an actual drone because this can lead to wasted money if you do indeed end up crashing a drone. Probably the best that a beginner can do is to learn to fly the drone by keeping it only a few feet in the air so that he can learn the ins and outs of the controls that go into flying a drone. But as far as flying a drone well enough to take it high up in the air and to take good photos all while navigating the drone’s flight path, that can be something that beginners probably won’t be able to do unless the person is actually a natural prodigy.

What are the Factors that Make Flying Drones Hard?

So, now that you know that drone flying is actually tough, what are the different factors that make it as challenging as it is? Let’s go over some of them.

1. It can be disorienting

The reason why flying a drone can be a challenge to many is related to how disorienting an experience it can be when you are behind the controls of a drone and using the drone’s camera to fly your way through the air and through obstacles. If you are using your naked eye and the drone is just visible, it might not be as disorienting. But whether you are using the drone’s camera perspective or visual line of sight to keep track of the drone, it’s surprisingly easy to get turned around or become momentarily flustered to such an extent that you make very basic mistakes. 

2. You might need another person to help you

While experienced drone flyers can fly a drone all on their own, beginners will probably need a second person to help them out. That’s because you would need a spotter to serve as your second eyes in case something bad happens to the drone while you are flying it or in case you actually need someone to help you catch or retrieve the drone if ever you make a mistake while flying it.

3. Judging distances can be quite difficult

This is true especially if you are using the drone’s camera as your point of perspective, as it can be difficult for you to estimate distances while you are flying your drone. You shouldn’t have a problem if you are using your naked eyes and you are flying your drone only a few feet high in the air. But if you intend on taking it high up, you are going to find that estimating or judging the distances between it and the ground or other obstacles will be very difficult for you to do while focused on the drone’s camera feed.

4. It will take some time to adjust to the controls

Like any vehicle that you get your hands on for the first time, adjusting to the controls of a drone will take some time. Different drones can have different controls depending on the manufacturer. But the fact of the matter is that you still need to learn the ins and outs of the controls of the drone you are using before you will be able to fly it effectively. 

You can actually use a trial by fire method by immediately immersing yourself in the controls of the drone as you fly the actual drone. But this can be quite dangerous not only to the drone but to you and some of the other people around you especially if you lose control over the drone. As such, the best way for you to adjust to the controls of a drone is to use the drone’s dedicated simulator.

What are the common mistakes that beginner drone flyers tend to make?

Mistakes can be quite common for first-time or beginner drone flyers. And here are some of the more common mistakes that you should try to avoid when you are still a beginner:

  • Flying in places with a lot of obstacles such as trees or power lines is a common mistake that first-time flyers tend to make. It is best to learn to fly a drone in an open space with little to no obstacles.
  • Not using a simulator to get started is also a common mistake. Again, we cannot stress how important it is to use a simulator or to actually take drone flying lessons. If airplane pilots learn through simulators, there is no reason why you shouldn’t learn to fly a drone using a simulator.
  • Taking the drone far beyond what your eyes can reach is something that should be avoided. While it might be ideal to learn to use the drone’s camera while flying it, beginners should always fly a drone within their line of sight.
  • Not taking into consideration the wind conditions is also one of the biggest mistakes that beginners often make. It can be difficult to know how to fly a drone in different wind conditions if you learned primarily from a simulator but you have to make sure that you are taking into consideration how strong the wind is when you are flying a drone because strong winds can easily make you lose control over your drone.

Tips that every beginner drone flyer should know

Finally, here are some quick tips that every beginner drone flyer should know so that they can learn how to fly a drone smoothly:

  • Always fly in open areas. Learning how to navigate your way through trees and power lines might be cool and all but beginners are still trying to learn the controls.
  • Never fly into people’s homes because there are laws in place regarding this. You are basically trespassing or violating their privacy if you fly your drone into a person’s home.
  • Always defer to other aircraft when flying your drone. That is why there are regulations in place for drone flyers to follow. For one, keeping your drone at a lower altitude is ideal as it might end up disrupting other aircraft when it flies too high.
  • Avoid poor weather conditions at all times. It might be cool to be able to fly a drone in poor weather conditions such as windy days or rainy days but you are still a beginner. Even experts avoid poor weather conditions.
  • Never fly under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This can make it more difficult for you to pilot the drone. And you may even end up injuring yourself or others.
  • Do not fly when the battery is low. This applies to both the drone and your phone. If either or both the drone or your phone loses power, you will certainly end up with a drone that is going to quickly crash into the ground.

Elizabeth Ciobanu

Editor-in-Chief. Elizabeth is a full-time (homeschooling!) mom of four, and serial entrepreneur in a variety of enterprises, one of which is producing content for Droneblog. If free time existed, she would love to spend more time on hobbies such as flying a drone.

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