With just over three months till Christmas, the UK is braced for another busy drone buying season. This week we discuss all you need to know about buying and flying drones this Christmas! If you are thinking of buying a drone for somebody or you receive one this Christmas, here is the ultimate Christmas drone guide.
Last Christmas online Amazon retailer reported selling tens of thousands of drones. With Christmas coming up, drones are set be the UK’s number 1 must have for 2016. This Christmas DSR is predicting that drones will fly off the shelves even faster than last year! Perhaps you are looking to buy a drone and don’t know where to start in the process. Perhaps you are unsure of what’s what and the safety considerations associated with flying drones.
It is vital to be aware of the UK’s aviation rules before you take to the skies with your first drone!
Where to Buy a Drone?
Drones have become increasingly available and accessible to the average person on the street. From sophisticated, high-end crafts to more affordable play things, their popularity has really taken off. There are many physical high street outlets and online stores where you can purchase drones and accessories.
Here is a list of popular drone retailers within the UK
What are the Drone Price Ranges?
A wide range of drones are available, from high-tech advanced professional models to affordable beginner drones. Inexpensive drones aren’t just for children – you can get built in cameras and GPS on a drone for under £100. Even cheaper beginner models are great for perfecting your piloting skills before investing in a more sophisticated drone. High end drones such as a DJI Inspire Pro have switchable camera systems; a platform you can upgrade and can cost upwards £1700. More advanced lifting drones such as the DJI S900/S1000 have more propellers; a higher payload and are used for flying with larger HD cameras. These can cost in excess of £4000.
What do I need to Check before I Fly?
- Check for drone damage – Check for damaged or worn propellers and other parts that should be replaced or repaired before flight. Always make sure propellers are fitted correctly.
- Check Weather – Weather can have a major impact on all types of flying. Check the weather in advance of take-off. Wet and windy weather can damage your drone and knock it seriously off course. Download a wind meter app and check the wind speed before a flight. If it is too windy abort the flight. Safety first.
- Check Firmware – Always check your software firmware is up to date before flying.
- Fully Charge all devices – Ensure your flight battery, operating console, remote controller, Wi-Fi range extender and all other necessary items are fully charged. Does your iPad device have enough power? Turn off non related notifications, so you don’t get a distracting message mid-flight.
- People around you – Always make sure that everyone around you knows what you are doing and what is going to happen. You are in control of a machine with fast spinning propellers which can damage property or injure somebody.
- Check for ‘No Fly Zones’ and Restricted Air Spaces – DSR recommends checking where the restricted airspaces are located within the UK
How to Judge Important Distances
Even airline pilots flying a jumbo jet can find it difficult to judge distances. The CAA says do not fly drones more than 400ft and no further than 500 metres from line of sight. But how do you know what 400 feet or 500 metres is? One method is to compare the height to a local landmark. Getting familiar with a nearby building height can help judge distances. Big Ben for example is approximately 315 feet so flying at this height would not be illegal. Flying higher than the height of the London Eye or the London Shard would be because they are 442 feet and over a 1000 feet respectively. DSR doesn’t suggest you fly your drone close to any of these buildings however!