Common drone myths busted

AIRBORNE: West Coast Multirotor Club president Terry Johnson tackles common myths about drones. Photo: Justin Rake.
AIRBORNE: West Coast Multirotor Club president Terry Johnson tackles common myths about drones. Photo: Justin Rake.

We caught up with the president of the West Coast Multiroter Club Terry Johnson, who told us some common misconceptions people hold about drones. 

Terry has been racing for three years and owns 12 drones, all of which he has built by himself. 

“Three years is a bit like dog years in drone racing. It feels like it has been seven," he said. 

“When I started it was unheard of in Australia.”

West Coast Multiroter Club member Simon Emery with a Phantom 3.

People are using drones to spy on me 

Terry recently expressed his frustration about this idea on Facebook group Mandurah Q and A. 

“No one flying a drone is spying on you, you’re not that interesting,” he wrote. 

“I talk to hundreds of drone users in the local area and the pilots are not interested in people, some want to fly fast, some want that perfect picture of the landscape and some do it for a living.”

Terry told The Mandurah Mail that he had friends who are contracted to work for the real estate industry and use drones to get property pictures from a distance. 

He said there is a rule that drones must stay 30 metres away from a building. 

“They cop a lot of flack when they’re on the job because people think they’re being spied on,” Terry said.

Most drones can’t zoom

Terry Johnson and Owen Littleton flew in the Australian Drone Racing Nationals in Queensland. Photo: Justin Rake.

Terry Johnson and Owen Littleton flew in the Australian Drone Racing Nationals in Queensland. Photo: Justin Rake.

“You can’t zoom on the average drone,” Terry said.

He said standard drone types include the Mavic and Phantom.

“I suppose if you spent $30,000 on a drone and put an SLR camera on it, then you could, but otherwise you can’t,” he said. 

Racing drones are completely different 

“There should be different laws for racing drones and normal drones,” Terry said. 

“They’re both completely different.”

Terry said when a person is racing they wear goggles and the drone flies only 1.5m off the ground. 

“Also, racing drones don’t carry high definition cameras,” he said. 

Cody Steel raced the fastest lap at the Mandurah Buzz Cup Finals in December, 2017.

Harder than they look 

Terry said that using a drone is a lot harder to operate than it might look. 

“You have to spend money,” he said. 

“If you buy a $200 drone, you are going to lose it on the first day. The cheaper ones don’t have a GPS.”

He said it was easy to get disorientated when flying a drone. 

“I recommend if you are learning how to fly a drone, to buy one with a GPS,” Terry said. 

“The Spark is $700 from JB Hi-Fi. 

‘You can pick up a second hand Phantom 3 for $400 from Gumtree or eBay.”

The West Coast Multiroter Club is based in Madora Bay. Visit their Facebook Page for more information; https://www.facebook.com/groups/westcoastmultirotorclub/.