If FPV drones are interesting and you and want to learn how to fly one, this article was written for you!
Learning how to fly a drone is a fun and rewarding experience and it is kind of like learning to ride a bike. At first, it is going to be hard and feel unnatural, but eventually, something clicks in your brain and flying becomes second nature.
Here’s everything you need to know to learn how to fly an FPV drone, from simulators, flying skills and fundamentals, and what you need to know before your first flight. Keep reading and you’ll be flying FPV drones like a pro in no time!
What do I Need to Learn to Fly an FPV Drone?
It can be really tempting to go out and try flying a drone right away, but we’d recommend learning on a simulator first! When you learn how to fly a FPV drone, you’re going to crash many times and crashing on a simulator instead of crashing your brand new drone will save you a lot of money!
In order to learn how to fly, the two most important things to get are an FPV drone radio, and a computer or console that can run an FPV simulator. I personally use a Mac and Velocidrone with my Jumper T-lite, and it works fantastic!
Best Starter Radios and Simulators
In the tables below are some decent radios and simulators you can use to learn FPV.
When you choose a radio you will see they are either Mode 1 or Mode 2. We recommend going with a Mode 2 radio, which has the throttle on the left-hand side
For more information, we’ve written full guides on the five best fpv controllers and the best simulators for learning FPV!
Radio for FPV Simulator
All three radios can be used to fly real FPV drones as well as being used with a simulator. If you have a smaller budget go with something like the BetaFPV radio, but if you can afford to spend a little more the Jumper T-Pro is a nice upgrade.
|Radio for Sim||Price (USD)||Protocol|
|BetaFPV Lite Radio 3||$80||ELRS or FRSKY/MULTI|
|Jumper T-Pro||$135||ELRS or FRSKY/MULTI|
Simulator Choices for PC, Xbox and PS4
Liftoff and Velocidrone are the best option if you don’t have a PC, and can run on almost any computer platform.
If you’re getting a simulator for your console, make sure you can use the radio you buy on your Xbox or PS4.
We’d recommend trying one of the free simulators on the list before paying for one! The free versions are more than good enough to learn how to fly on.
I have a Radio and a Simulator, What Next?
This is the fun part. Once your radio is working on your PC/Console you can start putting time into learning how to fly.
Flying is all about building up muscle memory and it takes most people between 20-50 hours to build up the skills needed to fly a real FPV drone.
The two skills that are important to learn first are throttle control and learning how to turn. Once you have these two things mastered, other skills will be easier to learn.
Understanding the Controls of an FPV Drone
Let’s start off by defining the terms pilots use.
- Pitch = Controls the tilt forwards and backward
- Roll = Controls the tilt side to side
- Throttle = Controls the motor speed
- Yaw = Controls the orientation of the drone and spins it around
Let’s start off with the left joystick, which controls throttle and yaw. Push it up and down to control how much throttle you use, and left and right to control the orientation of the drone.
The right joystick controls your pitch and your roll. Push it up and down to tilt the drone forwards and backward, and push it left and right to tilt the drone left and right.
What Are the Different FPV Drone Flight Modes?
There are three different flight modes for FPV drones: Angle, Acro, and Horizon. Horizon mode is fairly useless and never used, but we’ll still explain it briefly.
All of the different modes only affect the right joystick. The left joystick with the throttle and yaw controls stays the same.
This mode is considered the easiest to learn and is always working to keep the drone level. If you leave the right joystick perfectly in the middle, the drone will always remain level.
Angle mode locks the maximum angle your drone can tilt (let’s say 30° for this article). If you push your right joystick from the center to halfway to the top, your drone will tilt forwards at 15°. If you push the right joystick all the way to the top, it will tilt the drone forwards at 30°.
As soon as you release the stick back to the center in Angle mode, the drone will return to a level position.
There are three main differences between acro mode and angle mode.
The first difference is that the maximum angle is not locked, and you can flip the drone completely upside down if you want to!
Secondly, in angle mode stick position relates to rotational speed, not the angle of the drone. In angle mode, if you have a 30° max tilt and you hold the pitch stick from the center to halfway to the top, it will keep the drone at 15°.
Since there isn’t a maximum angle lock in acro mode, holding the pitch stick in the same position will just constantly rotate the drone, and pushing the pitch stick all the way forwards will just make it rotate faster.
The final difference is that releasing your right joystick will not return the drone to level, but will leave the drone facing in whatever direction it’s currently facing. To get the drone back to level, if it’s facing upside down you’ll need to tilt the drone 180 degrees in any direction by pushing your right joystick in, holding it, and releasing it when level.
Horizon mode uses the majority of your joystick range for angle mode and will lock your maximum angle, but if you push the joystick all the way to the edge it allows you to enter acro mode and do a full rotation.
This mode is impossible to fully master and makes for inconsistent flights, so it’s fairly useless and we’d recommend avoiding this mode.
Three Steps to Learn to Fly Fly your FPV Drone in Angle Mode
Now that you know what all the controls and modes on an FPV drone do, here are all the steps you should walk through when you’re learning to fly your FPV drone, whether in the simulator or out in a big open field!
Learning Throttle Control by Hovering in Angle Mode
Learning throttle control is the most essential skill to master if you want to be a good pilot.
The Throttle stick on an FPV drone is very sensitive and most new pilots will experience bunny hopping in the air when they first start. This means you will gain and lose height over and over again and probably end up crashing or bouncing around on the ground.
The easiest way to learn throttle control is the start out in Angle mode. Angle mode will keep your drone level and won’t allow you to flip or roll it over. This way you can concentrate on trying to keep the throttle steady.
Select Angle mode and then try to hover the drone in one place using the Throttle stick. If the drone is drifting to one side, you may have to correct its course slightly by pushing your right joystick to the opposite side of the drift.
Learning throttle control just takes time, and the more you do this the easier it will become to keep the drone at a stable height and maintain a hover.
Learning How to Fly Around in Angle Mode
Once you can keep the drone somewhat level, try flying forwards, backward, and side to side with your right joystick. Don’t change the orientation with your Yaw stick yet, this is saved for the next step!
When you are moving around, you will have to adjust your Throttle stick to maintain height depending on how tilted your drone is. If you keep the throttle at the same height you’ll crash into the ground, but if you throttle too high you will just fly straight up.
After a couple of hours, you should be able to confidently fly around and maintain a stable height. Next, you’re going to learn to turn!
Learning How to Turn in Angle Mode
Turning your drone is a lot easier in angle mode than it is in acro mode because angle mode is always working to keep your drone level!
To learn how to turn your drone, hover in one spot and try moving your yaw stick side to side. The yaw stick is always in acro mode, and will continue to turn your drone at a speed that depends on how far you push your joystick!
You can fly in a circle by flying forwards by tilting your drone forwards with your pitch stick, and then pushing your yaw stick left or right until your drone completes a full circle!
Learning how to turn with yaw in FPV mode is easy, but if you’re trying to learn line-of-sight it can be difficult because once your drone is facing you, all of your pitch and roll controls are reversed!
Three Steps to Learn to Fly your FPV Drone in Acro Mode
Thankfully, the throttle and yaw joysticks work the same in acro as they do in angle mode, but the way you hover, move around and turn all change slightly because your pitch and roll joysticks work differently in acro mode.
Learning acro mode takes a bit more trial and error, so we recommend starting off in a simulator!
Learn to Fly Around in Acro Mode
If you started off in Angle mode, you’ve already learned throttle control. You’ll need to re-learn how to fly around in acro mode though.
Since there is no maximum angle lock in acro mode, you get to pick at what angle the drone will fly. If you want to fly forwards with a 15° tilt, push your right joystick forwards and move it back to the center once the drone reaches 15°.
To get the drone back to level, you’ll need to reverse your original action and move your joystick backward until the drone reaches level again.
Learn How to Turn in Acro Mode
Since there is no angle locking in acro mode, when you yaw left or right, you will also need to adjust your roll left and right to keep the drone from just rotating the camera.
If you’re turning with your yaw to the right, you’ll also need to roll to the right.
Again, this is a lot easier to learn through FPV, and not through line of sight flying.
How to Get Better at FPV Drone Flying
Once you’ve learned how to fly your FPV drone, there’s always room for improvement!
To get better at flying, the best way is to practice a lot and push yourself to do whatever’s hard for you.
For example, if you crash every time you try to fly close to a tree, figure out what you’re doing wrong and keep trying until you fly close to the tree successfully! Each new struggle you overcome as a pilot will build on your skills, and make you better and better at flying.
Here’s a method that I advise beginners who just learned how to fly to progress their skills.
Use Racing Gates in the Simulator
To avoid crashing a lot in real life when you’re pushing yourself, fly on the simulator!
Flying on a map in the simulator with low race gates or a racing track and forcing yourself to fly through every gate is a great way to get better.
You are probably not going to be able to go through even one gate when you first start, but eventually, your skills will get better and you will notice an improvement.
Angle mode is really only to be used when you first start flying. You don’t want to spend too much time in this mode because it makes it harder to learn the full flying mode that makes FPV so fun – Acro Mode
Fly, fly, fly
The final step to learning and progressing at FPV drone flying is to continue flying, whether on the simulator or in real life.
Learning how to fly is all about developing muscle memory. There is no substitute for ‘time on the sticks’ as it’s known in FPV and the only way you will get better is by putting in hours whenever you can.
See How to Fly!
Video tutorials are super helpful for learning how to fly, so make sure to check out the video below for more information.
When you’re learning, try to keep the experience fun and give yourself a break to give your brain a chance to process what you are learning.
When Josh from the EasyDrone team flew a simulator for the first time, he was horrible! When he woke up the next day, his brain had processed all the information learned overnight, and he was a lot better. If he had kept trying and trying on that first day, it would have just been a very frustrating experience.
We also suggest watching some freestyle and racing FPV videos to give you inspiration in your learning to fly journey.
If you put in enough time and effort your first real drone flight is going to be a breeze!
We’d recommend picking up a small indoor drone to learn the basics on, since they’re really cheap and durable, and you can fly them inside your house at any time.
Comment below and let us know how your first flight goes!