FAQ for Prospective Drone Pilots
December 4, 2023
You're looking to fly a drone in Canada and have your eyes on doing the Basic Drone Pilot Certificate. Where can you actually fly, and where can't you fly?

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The Beginner’s Guide to Drones: Answering Your Top 10 Questions

Welcome to the exciting world of drones! If you’re new to these flying wonders, you probably have a bunch of questions. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Let’s dive into the ten most frequently asked questions by beginners and provide clear, accessible answers to get you started on your drone journey.

1. What Can Drones Do?

Drones are versatile and can capture stunning aerial shots, shoot high-quality videos, conduct video tours, showcase locations, measure aggregate stockpiles, and even record slow-motion and 4K footage.

2. What Can't Drones Do?

While drones are amazing, they have limitations.  At the entry-level price point, drones aren’t suitable for flying beyond their visible range, serving cost-conscious clients, executing time-lapse shots beyond 50 minutes, flying off boats without nearby land, or maneuvering under structures.

3. How Much Does it Cost to Get Into Drone Flying?

The cost varies, but you can likely find affordable options. Shopping around and considering second-hand equipment can help. However, if you’re investing in specialized sensors or advanced aircraft, be prepared for a higher price tag.

4. Should I Do It Myself or Hire a Contractor?

It depends on your needs. Assess how often you’ll use the drone, whether you require specialized features, and how crucial the data gathering is. Sometimes, doing it yourself is cost-effective, while other situations may call for a professional.

If you’re going with the do-it-yourself approach, consider the cost of acquiring hardware, training, and experience to do a professional job.

If you’re looking to hire a drone pilot, we can help with that.

5. What's the Best Drone for Beginners?

We recommend starting with an affordable micro-drone like the DJI Mini series.  They’re relatively affordable, ranging from $300-$500, and are great for building flight skills and feature an excellent camera system.

6. Do I Need a License to Fly a Drone?

In many places, yes. Check your country’s regulations.

In Canada, if you want to fly a drone that weighs 250 grams or more, you must at least get a Basic Pilot Certificate.  If you want to fly a 250g+ drone near people, certified aerodromes, or controlled airspace, you will need an Advanced Pilot Certificate.

In the United States, the FAA requires drone pilots to pass the Part 107 exam for commercial use. Hobbyists may have different requirements including the TRUST exam.  In the USA, these rules apply even to micro-drones.

7. Can I Fly Anywhere?

No, there are airspace regulations. Always check local laws, and be aware of restricted zones. Flying in controlled airspace or near airports is usually prohibited.

For example, if your house is located within 3NM of an international airport, there’s a good chance that your property is in controlled airspace and therefore you would need permission to fly a drone, even in your backyard.

Also, most Federal and Provincial parks prohibit the recreational use of drones, which means you’d need to apply for permission to fly.

8. How Long Can Drones Fly?

Flight time varies, but most consumer drones have around 20-30 minutes of flight time. Some of the newer aircraft are nearing an hour of endurance.  Factors like wind conditions and payload affect this duration, as well as ambient temperature and elevation.

9. How Do I Maintain My Drone?

Regular maintenance is crucial. Keep your drone clean, update software regularly, check for any damage, and store it properly. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for maintenance.  Here’s an article outlining the logbook and maintenance record requirements for Canadians.

10. How Can I Learn More About Drones?

For in-depth knowledge and hands-on experience, consider joining a drone pilot training program. It’s a fantastic way to understand the technology, regulations, and best practices.

Want to learn more?

This content and more is covered extensively in our five-star online drone pilot ground school. We offer both Basic and Advanced online training courses to help you get ready for the Transport Canada online exams at your own pace from the comfort of your home.

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