What does it take to fly a drone?
Drones are considered aircraft, which requires a pilot with training and certification. The aircraft
must also be marked and registered. Small drones, also called “micro drones” (250 grams or
less) do not require registration or a pilot’s certificate for operation. Micro drones are still
considered aircraft, and we are advised to fly responsibly and in respect to other flying devices.
Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) are rules set out for drone pilots operating aircraft up to
25 kilograms in weight. You must also abide by the laws of your province/state in respect to air
Certificates: Basic and Advanced
If you have a basic pilot’s certificate, you have completed an online exam, and agree never to
fly near bystanders, and to only fly in uncontrolled airspaces.
An advanced pilot’s certificate requires you passing a flight review as well as an exam. In
advanced operations, you are certified to fly in controlled airspaces with permission (seek
permission from air traffic control), and fly near or over bystanders. Micro drones again are
given specific laws, not falling under these forms of operation. These aircraft are advised not to
fly in controlled airspaces, and never to endanger people.
If you look to fly outside of the rules or with heavier aircraft, you will need to be granted special
permission from Transport Canada or other air traffic control authorities.
Getting comfortable with flying
It is recommended you purchase a micro drone without a camera to test your flying skills.
Practicing with a smaller drone really helps to give you the idea of how a larger, heavier drone
would operate. Take-off, land, fly around and hover until you feel you’ve got a grip on handling.
What to know before take-off
Before operating a drone, you should first study the instructions and view tutorials on navigating
your aircraft. You will need to stay within your limits of distance, height and battery power, being
able to safely land at any given point. Plan your shots before take-off, as you will only have so
much time in the air, or as much as your surroundings/battery power grants you. The area
should be scanned for any obstructions or complications when keeping your drone in sight. If in
a controlled airspace, the pilot is required to seek permission from air traffic control, such as
NAV Canada. Weather should be accounted for, as it is not safe to fly electronics in the rain, nor
recommended for flying drones overall. The card recording the media you’ll be capturing while
in the air should be cleared and ready to fill up. After take off, let the drone hover at 15 feet and
observe if it is acting normally.
There are strict no-fly zones, and the company DJI has created a map of them. It is viewable
through their website, dji.com.
Depending on your drone, it may have multiple flight modes. You can fly with a fixed altitude,
auto levelling, among other actions. You can also adjust for gusts of wind, even hovering in
place. It is also important to have a person or relative object for the viewer to witness (if
available) to create a sense of scale in the frame.
McQuinn Media is RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft System) and UAV (Unmanned Aerial
Vehicle) certified. Our team offers drone videography and photography, in both basic and
advanced operation packages. If you are interested in our drone videography services, connect
with us and book a free strategy session.