Preparing to fly: the ultimate drone flight checklist

Whether you’re engaged in a fun hobby or a business venture, a day of drone flying requires thorough preparation and planning. The Drone Girl team has crafted a comprehensive guide to ensure your flying experience is smooth and enjoyable. So with that, here’s your ultimate drone flight checklist.

Use this guide and checklist to avoid common mishaps, like driving 30 minutes to your flight site only to realize you’ve forgotten your memory card (a mistake I’ve unfortunately made myself, inspiring this guide).

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And here’s the text version of our checklist, below:

3 Days Before Your Drone Flight

  • Schedule Time: Reserve 3 to 4 hours in your calendar. Depending on your schedule’s flexibility, this may need to be done well over 3 days before the flight. Remember to factor in travel time to your site.
  • Flight Authorization: Ensure you’re authorized to fly in your chosen airspace during your flight time. Recreational drone pilots can use an FAA-endorsed B4UFLY app, powered by approved service providers.
  • Location Scouting Using Google Maps: If unfamiliar with the location, scout it using Google Maps. Look for a flat takeoff area and plan your shoots, being mindful of obstacles like telephone wires and trees.
  • Weather Check: Repeatedly appearing on the checklist, it’s crucial to check the forecast for rain, wind, clouds, and temperature, as these will impact your flight.

1 Day Before Your Drone Flight

  • Software and Firmware Updates: Check for updates, which typically enhance your flying experience but may be time-consuming. Most updates take 5-15 minutes.
  • Charge Everything: Ensure all drone batteries, your controller, and phone are fully charged to avoid shortened flights. Check out our guide on LiPo battery ownership and use.
  • Format Your SD Card: It’s best practice to reformat your memory card before every flight, allowing more efficient data writing.
  • Inspect Your Drone: Examine your drone for readiness. Check propellers for damage, ensure the gimbal is correctly aligned, and clean the lens with a microfiber cloth.
  • Weather Check (Again): Weather can change rapidly, so keep an eye on the forecast.

The Day of Your Drone Flight

  • Pack Your Drone Bag: Adopt the habit of repeating “drone, batteries, SD card” as you prepare to leave. Double, or even triple-checking never hurts.
  • Enjoy Your Flight: Now that you’re fully prepared, it’s time to enjoy your drone and capture those beautiful shots.

Want this as a printable to carry in your own drone bag or to hang in your office? Click the file below to download the full version:

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