The lowdown on drones

drone with cameraDrones are becoming a regular part of life. We hear about them being used by the military, the police, for pizza deliveries and more. They appear regularly in movies, and they are currently one of the most aspirational tech toys on the market, particularly for dads and their children.

Some come with their own remote control while others are controlled by a smart phone or tablet. Children and adults have conquered the ground with remote control vehicles, and now they can conquer the air with drones.

For the most part, children want to master how to control an object that flies. The older they get the more functionality they want their drone to have, such as having a camera so that they can film their drone escapades and replay the footage later, or being able to carry a payload to make deliveries.

Rules for flying drones

While drones are fun and entertaining, we need to make our children aware that even toy drones may infringe on other people’s right to privacy if the ‘pilot’ doesn’t adhere to the following rules that apply to drone flying (including toy drones), no matter how sophisticated or simple one’s drone may be (Source: South African Civil Aviation Authority):

  • You may not fly a drone within 50m or a person or groups of people (think sports fields, road races, schools, social events etc)
  • You may not fly a drone within 50m of any property without permission of the owner.
  • You may not fly a drone near manned aircraft
  • You may not fly a drone 10km or closer to an aerodrome (airport, helipad, airfield etc)
  • You may not fly a drone weighing more than 7kg
  • You may not fly a drone higher than 150ft from the ground

Commonsense guidelines for flying drones

While simple entry level toy drones can cost about R300 and up into the thousands, sophisticated adult devices can cost upwards of R25 000. Bearing this in mind as well as the rules mentioned above, here are some commonsense guidelines to help children to get the most out of their drones:

  • Fly drones on a windless day to avoid losing them
  • Fly drones in parks, on beaches, unoccupied sports fields and other areas where there is a lot of room and where the drone won’t irritate other people
  • Treat flying drones much like you would flying a kite
  • Fly drones where there are few people around to avoid upsetting anyone
  • Go for some drone flying lessons

If you are an adult drone enthusiast or hobbyist (16 years and up) you should do a Drone Competency Course through Drone Racing Africa. Click here for more info.

Skills that will be sharpened by flying drones

  • Eye-hand co-ordination
  • Quick reflexes
  • Judgement of speed, space and distance

Toy drone shopping checklist

There is a wide range of entry level Syma drones and quadrocopters available at Toy Kingdom that vary from R499 to R1999 depending on the size and functionality you are looking for. Here is a short checklist to discuss when drone shopping:

  • Able to do stunts
  • Can do 360 degree flip stunts
  • Can do free tumbling around and fancy rotation
  • Has hover function
  • One key for taking off and landing that would be easier to control for a younger child
  • A built-in gyro for greater stability and wind resistance
  • Wifi camera/video function
  • Smart phone control function
  • What’s the controlling distance?
  • What’s the flying time?
  • What’s the charge time?

Some drones to consider

The Syma range of drones and quadrocopters below are available at Toy Kingdom stores and from their online store.

CODE DESCRIPTION APPROXIMATE RETAIL PRICE
X20-WHITE X20- SYMA QUADCOPTER 2.4G R499.99
S5-RED S5-HELI RED W/GYRO 3 CHANNEL R349.99
S5-WHITE S5-HELI WHITE W/GYRO 3 CHANNEL R349.99
S39-WHITE SYMA S39 CENTRINO 2.4G HELI WHITE R599.99
S39-RED SYMA S39 CENTRINO 2.4G HELI RED R599.99
X5UW-720P QUADCOPTER 2.4G WITH WIFI CAMERA R1999.99
X5UC- WHITE FPV QUADCOPTER 2.4G WITH CAMERA R1499.99
X20-BLACK X20- SYMA QUADCOPTER 2.4G R499.99
X5HW-BLUE X5HW QUADCOPTER 2.4G WITH WIFI CAM R1499.99

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