A different perspective.
Something dangerous happened to me in Vermont this May… I caught drone fever.
I go on a trip to help church plants with a group of creatives every May, and this year several friends brought their drones along. Now, I’ve messed around with a few cheap quadcopters before, but never anything like the units these guys were flying around. As I watched my friends get incredible sunset photos over the lake and stunning cinematic shots through the city streets, I knew I was looking at a gadget I would have to own.
After two weeks of wearing my wife down (joking… kind of…), I found an incredible deal on a Phantom 3 Advanced and haven’t looked back.
Our family has had a blast with mine, and I think your family would enjoy one too. Here are 10 reasons you should consider a drone as your next impulse purchase.
1) Drones Are Becoming More Affordable
Drones (at least quadcopters) have been affordable for a few years now, but the one’s you would actually want have just begun dropping in price. If you look at the extremely popular DJI Phantom lineup (which I purchased), you’ll find that what cost $900 last year can regularly be found for $399 or less if you know where to look. As long as you’re okay living without 4K video recording and the most advanced accident-avoidance sensors, you can pick up a drone that has most of the features from the more expensive models.
2) Drones Are *Easy to Fly
This is what pushed me over the edge; after watching videos and hearing horror stories for years, the last thing I wanted to do was to pick up a high-tech toy that I was likely to destroy on its maiden voyage. Thankfully, recent models from most manufacturers have made drone flight so easy that a third-grader can catch on pretty quick. My Phantom locks on to a bunch of satellites that keep it stable in the air and help it find its way home, and it can take off and land with the tap of a button on my iPad. Get scared while you’re flying? Let go of the sticks and let it hover precisely in the air while your regain your composure.
*There’s definitely a small learning curve to flying, but with just a few minutes of learning the controls, you’ll be zipping through the air and navigating obstacles in no time. You’ll have a blast!
3) Drones are Hard(er) to Crash
Along the lines of point number two, recent (good quality) drones are much more difficult to crash than the models that were available even just two years ago. My Phantom 3 is extremely precise in the air and has numerous warnings and fallbacks to keep you running out of battery or losing your drone over a confusing tree line; if it loses contact with you at any time, it’ll shoot straight up in the air and return to the exact point where it took off.
If you can afford it, the Phantom 4’s are even better, with sensors that detect obstacles in your flight path and even prevent you from running into yourself or others. As long as you have a decent model and keep an eye out for trees, power lines, and birds(!), you’ll easily avoid the most common accidents.
4) Drones Can Help Kids Connect Technology with Reality
I think millennial parents have a lot of “technology guilt.” Although we’re told that we should train our kids for nothing but STEM jobs in this economy, we’re constantly guilt-tripped about limiting screen time and “getting those kids outside.”
It may sound like hyperbole, but playful gadgets like drones can help your kids connect the dots between the world they enjoy exploring, and tools that help them experience it in a radically new way. Jovie (my 6-year-old daughter) and our nephews love watching the drone fly around, and are constantly suggesting new places to fly over and things to photograph. It’s fun to see those tiny gears turning in their minds.
5) Drones Are Useful for Emergencies
This probably isn’t a common use case, but drones can quickly cover a lot of ground in treacherous areas where humans have a hard time going. Whether you’re looking for a lost dog, or even checking for icy backroads after a snowstorm, drones have some creative uses that could help to keep you family safe.
6) Drones Are Fun for Family Photos and Videos
Does your family enjoy trips to the beach or regular excursions to new places? Ditch the selfie stick and get family drone photos and video clips on the side of cliffs, over the ocean, or anywhere else you can dream up. What mom doesn’t want to rule Instagram with the ultimate family photo?
7) Drones Can Help with Home Projects and Maintenance
Have a tall roof to check after a rough storm? Put your drone up in the air instead of a shaky ladder next time you’re checking the shingles. Planning your next landscaping project? Pop your drone a hundred feet up and take a photo of your yard to get the flower beds perfectly planned out. Need to trim back the shrubs? Attach a lightweight chainsaw… just kidding about that one 🙂
(Yes, wives, I can feel your eyeballs rolling firmly back in your head at this point in this article.)
8) Drones Can Make You Money
As more families develop a “side hustle” to pay off debt and save for the future, photography has always been a great hobby that can grow into a small business. If you’re in an active real estate market or a region with a lot of outdoor weddings, you might find that honing your drone skills makes you a sought after commodity for freelance gigs. It’s nice to own a gadget that can pay for itself!
9) Drones Can Satisfy Your Curiosity
Of everything listed on this page, this is the reason I wanted a drone so badly; I’m constantly wondering “what’s over that hill?” or “what’s the story on that old building?”
Case in point, there’s an unfinished castle (seriously!) in our town that is fascinating from the road, but hard to get a good look at. With my drone, I was able to do a quick fly by and get a good look at a formerly mysterious piece of local lore.
You can have a lot of fun with these little gadgets (within legal boundaries, of course).
10) Drones Can Do “Impossible” Things
I see YouTube clips every day of ridiculous “drone shots” of literally everything you can imagine. Want to take a family photo from an impossible spot? Done! Want to make your own “extreme sports” action movies with your kids? Done! Want to put a message on the roof of your business that planes can see when they fly over? A drone can help you pull that off.
As you’ve realized by now, a drone definitely isn’t a “need” for your family (in 2016 at least), but I think it’s a fun hobby purchase that you’ll have a lot of fun with if your family likes to be creative.
What’s the coolest drone project you’ve seen? Share it with us in the comments below.
(bonus .gif courtesy of me calibrating the compass in front of an opportunistic friend)