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When is the Best Time to Fly a Drone?

If you’re just getting started with the hobby of flying drones, you may be wondering what weather conditions are suitable for flying a drone. And for most who are getting into drones, the biggest appeal is the photography aspect. It may not be obvious to all that there are certain times of day that will give you the best aerial photography results with your drone. So, when is the best time to fly a drone?

The best time to fly a drone is during the day when the sun is up and when the winds aren’t too strong. Avoid flying in rainy or extremely hot or humid conditions. For aerial photography, the golden hour or the blue hour (just before or after sunrise and sunset) will give the best results.

When it comes to drone flying, just like with any other outdoor activity, weather conditions have a big role to play. Of course, because drones are not invincible and can easily get damaged, it is important to look at the weather conditions when determining whether or not you should fly your drone.

When is the best time to fly a drone?

There are now more and more drone pilots than there have ever been before as drone flying is a growing area for both hobbyists and commercial pilots alike. It’s a fun way to spend your day, but can also be a good way to earn some money or even make a career out of it. 

» MORE: How to Make Money with a Drone?

Before you get out to fly your drone and start your way on a career path to a commercial drone pilot, it’s important to consider what conditions are best for drone flight. Some of these considerations involve the well-being of your drone, and some involve the safety of individuals and property.

In general, you can fly your drone at any time of the day so long as there is enough light to see your drone clearly and the weather is optimal for the conditions required by your drone to be able to fly well. 

Up until recently, commercial drone pilots were prohibited from flying their drones at night without a waiver from the FAA for nighttime operations, while recreational drone flyers were permitted to fly a drone at night. This has all changed now. 

Recreational flyers are still permitted to fly at night (as long as the drone has LED lighting to enable the pilot to spot the drone). The big change is that now commercial drone pilots are also permitted to fly at night without needing to get a waiver. The only difference from recreational flying is that commercially operated drones need to have anti-collision lighting. 

» MORE: Can I Fly My Drone at Night?

Even though drone flight is technically permitted at night, it may not be the best time of day to fly your drone, especially if you’re a beginner. The main reason for this is that it’s much easier to lose sight of your drone at night, even with the LED lights lit up. It’s very important to always keep your eyes on your drone to make sure you don’t crash it into someone or something, but also because it’s an FAA rule for drone flight.

Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to do your drone flying during daylight hours when it’s easy to keep your eyes on the drone, and see where all the potential obstacles are.

That said, certain hours of the daytime can be preferable for several reasons.

The Golden hour and the Blue hour

Even though the general rule is that you can fly your drone any time of the day, many drone pilots prefer to fly their drones during certain times of day that will produce the best photography. 

Tthe golden hour, which is the hour before sunset, or just after sunrise, is a great time to capture aerial photography because the “golden” hue that the setting sun tends to give off makes for brilliant colors, softer shadows, and great photos. The soft light of dawn, just like the evening light, makes for better photos.

Some drone pilots also prefer to fly during the blue hour, which is the hour right after sunset, or right before sunrise. Light from the sun just over the edge of the horizon is enough to clearly light up the landscape, but is soft, bluish and produces stunning effects in photography. 

Weather conditions 

When it comes to flying your drone, you have to look at certain weather conditions such as the wind speed, rain and even temperature and humidity. Even though it might be daytime and the sun is up, you still won’t be able to fly your drone very well if the winds are too strong. And if it’s raining, or too hot or humid, you can end up damaging your drone. 

For optimal drone flight, look for dry conditions without much wind, and with moderate temperatures. Unless you have a drone that’s specifically suited to weather extremes, stay away from flying in the rain, in strong winds, or if it’s too hot or cold. 

Is it okay to fly a drone on a rainy day?

The truth is that there are no legal restrictions as to whether or not you can fly your drone on a rainy day. But there are common-sense considerations that you need to look at especially when it comes to your drone and how it could possibly get damaged or even cause damage if you decide to fly on a rainy day.

In most cases, recreational drones are not meant to be waterproof or even water-resistant. There are commercial drones that are more water-resistant than others but that doesn’t mean that they won’t get damaged when flown in the middle of a rainy day. As such, it is best to avoid flying your drone during a rainy day especially if you are merely a recreational drone pilot.

» MORE: Can I Fly My DJI Drone in the Rain?

However, there are some commercial drones that are actually water-resistant. This can allow licensed commercial drone pilots to fly their drones during a rainy day especially when the demands of the profession require them to do so. However, in case of doubt, it still is best to avoid flying your drone in the rain regardless of whether or not your drone is water-resistant and regardless of your status as a drone pilot.

Can you fly a drone during winter?

What about when it’s wintertime? Can you still fly a drone on a winter day?

During winter, there might be a chance of snow falling during the day. And because snow is just water that’s frozen, you might end up exposing your drone to water damage especially when the snow melts when it makes contact with your drone. For this reason, it is best to avoid flying your drone when it is snowing.

Another consideration you need to look at is your battery life. Drone batteries tend to have performance issues in extreme weather conditions. Your drone battery might not be at peak levels during the winter especially when you are talking about a particularly cold winter day. Many drone batteries will not function properly when the temperatures are below freezing.

Of course, there is also the question in relation to visibility. Even though it might be the middle of the day, winter days can be a lot cloudier than your usual days. That means that visibility becomes an issue here because the drone can blend into the sky or general gray landscape. You still need to make sure that your drone is within your line of sight when flying it. 

In such a case, it might not be the best decision to fly your drone when the winter days are dark and gray as this can cause visibility issues on your part while flying your drone. If you do, at least make sure you keep the drone close enough to be able to see it. 

If you keep these considerations in mind, then yes, you can safely fly your drone during the winter. Just make sure it’s not well below freezing, and preferably not snowing or a dark gray day where you may lose sight of the drone.