Teaching Son to Fly a Drone not as a Toy

The drone was the most expensive toy he had purchased for his son. Being big for a 10-year old meant Austin was still getting used to his strength, and the idea of this new gift being broken after only a couple of days made Chuck sweat a little.

The Ghost had four brushless rotors and came with its 1080p action camera. The camera was removable, and the specs were well beyond anything that Austin would need at the moment, but Chuck hoped his boy would be a professional athlete someday. The drone could be used to record games and wow recruiters.

It won’t work!” Austin said, pulling Chuck from his musing.

See that flashing red light?” Chuck said, pointing to the black square remote in his son’s hands. Austin nodded. “That means it still needs to be paired with the drone before it will fly.”

Chuck accepted the outstretched remote from his son and paired it with the drone. The camera linked up with an app on his smartphone, and he pulled it out after the remote and drone were linked. Austin took back the remote and started pushing buttons, and the drone went up for a second before it dropped right back down to the pavement.

Here, give me that,” Chuck said, regretting the fact that he’d assumed his son would take the time to read the instruction manual. “The left side is to control height, and the right side controls the pitch.”

What’s pitch?”

If you want to dip down apart, like the front or the back, you push the joystick forward or back or left and right.”

What about all these?” Austin said, pointing to a pair of buttons below the joystick.

Those are to make minor adjustments, but let’s stick to the basics for now.” Austin nodded, the smile on his face continually big enough to show his teeth that were still too big for his face. “If you move the left joystick, the one that makes you go higher or lower, to the right or left, it will make the drone spin in that direction. But it will stay horizontal.” Chuck held up his hand to demonstrate.”

Cool!” Austin said, reaching out to grab the controller again.

Chuck laughed. He could tell Austin was barely paying attention, only listening for keywords that would allow him to start flying without crashing. He picked up what he needed to form the brief discussion, lifting the copter straight up and watching it go. It kept going until it was out of sight.

Don’t send it too far,” Chuck said.

Why not?”

It’ll reach space and float away, and you’ll never see it again.”

Austin looked worried for a second as he started bringing the quadcopter back down, but upon hearing his dad’s chuckle, he laughed as well. Bringing the drone down low enough to see again, he spun to the right for much longer than Chuck thought he should, but he stayed quiet. He had to remind himself that it was his son’s toy, and not his.

Looks like he’s got the hang of it,” Sarah, Chuck’s wife and Austin’s mother said.

Chuck backed up and folded his arms, standing next to his wife but keeping an eye on Austin.

Yeah, I think we’ll be able to get a few good shots of the fireworks when they start,” Chuck said with a grin.

Sarah nodded. “Good. Food’s here. It’s getting dark, so we better eat before they start.”


Chuck agreed and convinced Austin to take a break until after they ate. They lived in Heath, Ohio, and there wasn’t much to do aside from attending city-sponsored events for holidays, and the Fourth of July was the biggest one.

They always returned to the same parking lot spot, and they always came early to ensure they would get their spot. This time had been no different, though cousins and aunts and uncles usually joined them. This time everyone had other plans, so it was just Chuck, Austin, and Sarah.

In true form, Austin scarfed down the Pizza they had ordered. When Austin finished, he ran out to fly the drone again, but Chuck pulled him back and made him wait until his parents had finished their food as well. Even though they were in a parking lot with few moving cars, there was still a chance someone would drive out and fail to see Austin.


In his excitement, he would undoubtedly do the same, and that was a risk Chuck was not willing to take.

Austin groaned and moaned the whole time Chuck ate, but when he was finally done Austin was all laughter and smiles. He started flying the drone again, and a few moments later the first of the fireworks shot up into the sky and boomed a flash of brilliant sparkles through the darkness.

Go ahead and see if you can get close enough for a few good shots,” Chuck said. “That button on the top there is to snap a picture. Hold it down for three seconds, and it’ll start recording.” Chuck pointed to the button and pulled out his phone as Austin maneuvered up toward where the last firework had reported.


Another flash sparkled red and blue across the sky, and Austin got even closer. The next boom was close enough to rattle the drone and vibrate the camera, and Chuck told Austin to back off a little.

Austin complied, and Chuck kept a watchful eye on his son, his heartwarming with each smile that popped into Austin’s face as the fireworks continued to boom and dazzle the sky.

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