How To Fly a Drone

Transitioning from military to commercial availability has increased the drone’s usage in various industries and sparked public debate over privacy and safety concerns.

As drone-related legislation continues to evolve rapidly, stay up to date with federal and state laws by consulting the FAA’s fact sheet which includes contact information for your region.

Take a flight with The Beacon as we introduce various quadcopter aviation techniques, drone use-cases, and the regulatory landscape.


  • Up and down controls altitude or elevation from takeoff. Right to left controls yaw, the clockwise and counterclockwise rotation when viewing the spin from above.


  • Up and down controls pitch, the forward and backward motion when viewed from above. Right to left controls roll, the sideways motion right to left.

Take Off

  • Start engines with arming switch or throttle
  • Slowly move throttle up while maintaining a balanced aileron


  • Begin to push down on the throttle to reduce RPMs
  • Land safely and shut down the engines completely

Left to Right

  • Maintain a level throttle
  • Left or right on the aileron stick


  • Maintain the aileron stick level
  • Yaw left or right on the throttle stick to spin 360 degrees

Barrel Roll

  • Maintain a level throttle
  • Left or right on the aileron stick

Applications of Drones


Drones are revolutionizing agricultural field surveillance and maintenance, decreasing labor costs and increasing yields. Thermal imaging, for example, detects under-watered versus oversaturated crops, increasing watering efficiency.

Firefighting and Policing:

Drones are effective for surveillance, mapping, delivery of supplies and situational intelligence. Privacy and safety concerns have forced municipalities to seek federal approval to use drones within the public sector. 3


High-resolution cameras are a standard feature on most commercially available drones. These quadcopters are enabling amazing photos and videos from a viewpoint humans would never see.17

Safety & Regulation


In 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration outlined rules for non-hobby drones weighing less than 55 pounds. The regulatory requirements are different for commercial and recreational usage. Law mandates all aircraft remain in pilot’s line of sight and restricts certain airspace.


In the 2017 legislative session, at least 38 states are discussing drone-related regulation. Five states have already been successful in passing eight pieces of legislation.

Most states have mirrored regulation for recreational drones as the FAA has for commercial. Common regulations prohibit flight near airports4 and other protected air space6. Other states have addressed concerns over privacy, law enforcement, weaponization and wildlife harassment.4

Fun Facts

  • In 2014, military usage encompassed 89% of the drone market 3.
  • The common commercial drone "Phantom" from DJI can fly over 44 mph.
  • 770,000 drones were registered with the FAA within 15 months of law passing14 .
  • The FAA expects the hobbyist fleet to reach 3.55 million drones by 2021 3 .
  • The U.S. comprises 35% of the global drone market.17
  • Life-threatening construction site accidents declined by 91% after adopting drones.16
  • Only 9% of drone operators hold a pilot’s license 3 .
  • Real estate photography accounts for 26% of the commercial drone industry15 .
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