How to Tame Your Drone: 7 Tips to Fly a Drone and Not Kill Anyone

People actually google the words, ‘drone - training – India’. Why? Because India is offering drone training at the lowest price in the world.

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“That’s why we have people from Colombia, Bangladesh, and some students even from Zimbabwe. India is known for low-cost high quality drone training,” said Founder CEO of Johnnette Technologies, Lt Cdr John Livingstone.

Johnnette Technologies is a busy hive of drone activity. The startup founded in 2010 lives and breathes unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and drones in specific. They have a magazine, an app, manufacturing plant, testing air fields all dedicated to drones. The company conducts drone pilot training through their Indian Institute of Drones. When you google the three magical words, ‘drone-training-India’, the Indian Institute of Drones is the first result to pop up, and has kept the whole company from going under.

“This is one vertical that has kept the whole company afloat. We had tremendous losses from the drone rental and services business, manufacturing and even the media segments. But training drone pilots has actually helped us survive,” said Livingstone.

Don’t get us wrong, drone manufacturing is still the best way to generate revenue in the drone industry. However, it is a testament of how lucrative auxiliary segments like giving drone lessons can be. “We make about 70 percent profit through training. We don’t even make 1 percent of profit through production,” said Livingstone.

The Indian Institute of Drones started these lessons in March 2017 according to Livingstone. “We realized this is profitable in August 2016. So many people buy drones and are crashing a lot of drones. Of course if people are crashing and then buying more drones to replace them then that might mean we make more money, but since that’s ethically wrong, let’s not got there!”

So Livingstone and his Company thought, why not train people to fly drones without crashing them.

Contrary to popular belief flying a drone isn’t easy-peasy. It’s more complicated than flying a traditional air craft. Imagine sitting inside a vehicle - it’s easy to manoeuvre it that way, but standing outside and controlling it remotely, it’s a lot more difficult because you have to imagine the direction of the craft while standing away from it.

How much does it cost to be a drone pilot

It takes about a month to master the craft drone flying, according to Livingstone. But of course continued practice will make you perfect.

The course duration and fees vary with the kind of drone in question. The multirotor drone pilot course is seven days and the fixed wing drone pilot course is ten days. As you can tell it’s a bit more difficult to handle a fixed wing drone. Multirotors have a vertical take-off, fixed wing drones have a horizontal take off. The latter require a runway similar to an airplane and runway flying needs to be precise skills controlling the aircraft during landing and take-off.

Livingstone says they charge corporates, individuals and students a customized price depending on each category’s ability to pay. “We are sensitive to the fact that drone training should be affordable and accessible to everybody. There have been drone enthusiasts who say this is their future but can’t afford to pay for it. And there have been instances where we provide free training.” The industry average for learning to pilot a multirotor drone is around 25,000 rupees for an entire course, and for fixed wing drones, it’s typically 2000 to 3000 rupees a hour. “Our rates can beat the rates of anybody in the world,” Livingstone firmly says of the Indian Institute of Drones.

Tips to flying a drone like a master pro

1. Always check whether the drone is ready to fly. Perform a technical ground check. Never fly without one.

2. To fly a drone safely, you should be scared of the drone. “You cheat the machine, the machine will cheat you.” Be cautious and be aware that a flying drone can harm anybody (people have died by being struck by UAVs). It’s easy for a drone to hurt anyone so you need to be quick, alert and cautious.

3. Best time to fly a drone anywhere in the world is 6am to 8am; that’s when the winds are the most calm.

4. Do not consume alcohol 8 hours before flying a drone. 

5. Sleep for at least 6 to 8 hours before flying a drone.

6. Eat something before flying a drone. If not you may experience vertigo, an effect that may cause you to blank out and not see the drone although it will be in your line of vision. It’s very common among drone pilots.

7. Never have assumptions about drone flying. It’s not easy, you can’t do it anywhere. You need licenses and you do have limitations. Clarify, be sure and be very serious about this business of flying because it is as dangerous as it is lucrative.

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