How to improve your drone skills – without taking off!

It’s normal to have frustrating days as a drone pilot. You might struggle to find the time to fly as much as you want. Maybe you live in a place with weather that keeps you grounded, or flight restrictions that make it tough to practice in your own backyard.

It might even be that your local area doesn’t offer much in terms of scenery; a full-on road trip is needed to get to spots worth shooting.

All of these reasons can cut down your time behind the controls, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still improve as a drone pilot. There are plenty of things you can do in your spare time to get more confident and develop your skills behind the controls…

Flight simulators

One of the hardest things to master is the coordination needed to move the drone exactly where you want it. Motion needs to be smooth for professional-looking shots, but all of our thumbs are pretty clumsy to begin with.

A great way to get up to speed and perfect those skills is to take a drone flight simulator for a spin.

There are plenty available, but the Zephyr Sim, from Little Arms Studios is a great example. All you have to do is download the software and plug a compatible controller into your PC or Mac. There are a range of modules and training exercises to help you add some cinematic quality to your flights.

Looking for something with more of a competitive edge? The Drone Racing League simulator is a lot of fun. You can challenge friends and get to grips with FPV racing, improving your skills at the same time.

Who knows, if you get good enough, you can take part in DRL’s annual eSports event to see which pilot will win a professional contract and compete against the world’s best racers.

Mastering the basics of photography

Most aerial photographers are either converted pilots or converted photographers. For those who started flying before they started thinking about taking photos and videos, mastering the basics of photography is a good way to spend that downtime.

So take the time to get to grips with ISO, shutter speed and aperture. Having a solid understanding of these and setting your drone’s camera up according to the conditions will make a big difference to the quality of your shots. The results will speak for themselves.

Don’t want to buy a book or learn from a professional? Have a look for online tutorials and other free resources.

Online courses

Part of becoming a better drone pilot is learning your craft, understanding the rules and regulations and getting to grips with all of the little things that collectively make a big difference.

The best way to master all of those details is to take a training course. Our favorite is Drone Pilot Ground School, from UAV Coach.

Drone Pilot Ground School has been designed to help pilots pass the Part 107 certification. For more information, you can check out the entire Drone Pilot Ground School curriculum here. There’s also a bunch of free resources covering everything from nighttime flight waivers to getting airspace authorization.


We’ve recently  partnered with UAV Coach to gives members of the DroneBase community a discounted rate for the course. Interested? Just use the code DRONEBASE50 to get $50 off the enrollment cost of $299 when you sign up!

Malek Murison

Malek Murison is a freelance tech journalist working closely with clients in the drone industry.

2 thoughts on “How to improve your drone skills – without taking off!

  1. If you are looking for a good racing drone simulator try Rotor Rush – a very accurate one with proper circuits with gates. If you can fly there in accro mode (stabilised is an option) then your average Phantom will be a piece of cake!

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