Becoming a licensed Drone Pilot – Journal Entry 1

I have fond childhood memories of building RC cars. Several years ago, I picked up a re-release of one of my favorite cars, the Tamaya Hotshot. It was amazing to “step back in time” and build this car again! When I finished, I let my 6-year-old daughter drive it right down a storm drain… I was able to pry off the man hole cover and we rescued the car… She and I still laugh about it!

Two years ago, my wife and I bought our daughter a drone for Christmas. I know what you are thinking, and she crashed it a lot, but I did not have to pry off a man hole cover… with that said, we found it difficult to fly this drone, and we quickly lost interest.

Recently, I made up my mind, that I wanted to fly drones for my business. I went back and tried the old stunt drone, but it didn’t work, so I searched YouTube for beginner drones and found this video. I ordered the SYMA drone from Amazon here.

Before the drone arrived, I reached out to a friend that is extremely knowledgeable about drones. He recommended I pick up a $25 indoor drone and chase the cat around the house with it! Fortunately, we don’t have a cat! All joking aside, I jumped back on Amazon and ordered a Potensic A20 RC Nano Quadcopter for $30. You can find it here.

The SYMA arrived first. I took it out for a flight in the front yard. It was much easier to fly than the previous drone, but it was a bit windy and that made it a little challenging to fly. I focused on keeping the drone steady in one area, then on flying it forward, back, left and right. I ignored rotating the drone and just got comfortable with the basics. I had bought 7 batteries, which got me about 7 minutes of flight time per battery. I did that for a few days, until the Nano drone arrived.

The Nano drone arrived, and I began flying in the house… It was a bit easier to fly than the SYMA, and it was FUN!!! The A20 Nano had a red light on the back and a white light on the front, which made it simpler to tell the direction the craft was facing, and that made it easier  to get used to controlling the unit. My skills improved quickly, and I decided to get my FAA 107 License.  I purchased and started the Online option of the Part 107 Test Prep course from

I will say, I am happy with both beginner drones, and plan to fly the SYMA more as the weather permits.

Please stay tuned for my next entry, where I will journal my experiences with the online class and getting my commercial drone license.

A little about me:

I’m a Cinematographer and a Director, who is based in the Maryland, Washington DC area. I am the chief attendant at PulseCinema, which is a video production company working on documentary films, non-profit videos, TV commercials, shows, music videos, corporate videos, and other creative video projects. I’m always happy to work with new companies and people, so reach out and let’s work together!

Chris McGuinness