Maintaining mental orientation
Orientation – Line of Sight Flying Skills (i.e. not using goggles or a screen in a First Person View).
If you are not flying with a first person view (FPV) then you are going to have to get used to controlling your drone when it flies in directions that are not just away from you – unless you have very low ambitions for your flying life and like walking :).
When your drone flies away from you it is simply like driving a car – you push the control sticks to go left or right and it moves left or right in relation to the way you are facing. However, as soon as it is flying back towards you and you make those same stick movements the drone will move in the opposite directions. To overcome this issue, you need to constantly imagine you are inside the drone looking out the front. There are some things you can do to help with maintaining this mental orientation:
- Make sure you have some lights or markings on your drone so you can see which way it is facing. Note carefully what the back end of the drone looks like as that is the end you want to be looking at for control from your own, on the ground, orientation point of view.
- Practice flying in a figure of 8. Importantly practice looping round this figure of 8 in both directions. This is probably the single most effective exercise you can do to learn this orientation control.
- Complete this practice in GPS mode so that if you get confused you can simply take your hands off the sticks and it will hover in place until you can be sure, using the markings on the quad, which way it is facing. Use small stick movements from this recovery position to test that you are guiding it correctly and continue with your practice.
- If you get really stuck in the air then orient the quad so it is facing away from you (make sure you are familiar with its markings of its back side) and then you can then just pull the stick back to bring it towards you so you can rest and proceed with the exercise.
- You can also use a flight simulator that will take controls from your actual controller to practice this activity in a completely safe simulated environment. An example. See the lecture titled “General flying movements to master to help…..”, for more recommendations around flight simulators and a real life alternative.
You should practice the above even if you are planning on flying FPV all the time as it is possible that, for instance, your video transmitter may fail whilst you are in the air and you may not have Return To Home working due to a poor satellite signal. If that is the situation, then assuming you can still see your machine (your spotter should be able to point it out to you) you will need to use your Line Of Sight flying skills to bring it home.