You’ve heard the term, now let’s go under the hood of a drone for a moment, let’s explore the bits that make up our favorite flying machines in this science of flight entry: What is a drone?

Inside, outside and the entire concept, we want to consider what makes a drone a drone and then look at how they work. We’ll explore in more detail some of the individual pieces of a drone as we continue our series, today we’re looking at a fairly high level concept. Click the big button below for the rest of our Science of Flight series, otherwise, let’s get started.

First up, what is a drone? If we use a general definition of the word, we’re looking at anything that is remotely controlled. In my part of the world, for those that are not involved in the hobby of flying, the word “drone” usually refers to the large military craft that fly our skies.

As I am sure you are aware, “drone” has come to represent a small flying craft that you can control via remote – at least that is our main usage of the word in the name of our site. However, I often open to the proper use of the word so I can include things like the Sphero BB-8 toy, it’s a drone, after all, it just can’t fly.

I personally like the FAA phrase to define the machines we talk about around here, small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. sUAS closes the scope to the, you know, small machines that fly. They do not specify anything further than that, and so we try to cover anything that falls into their description of being lighter than 55 lbs and having no on-board pilot.

All the other fun stuff aside, the vast majority of drones we discuss on the site are quadcopters. Four propellers with the bulk of the machine weighted in the middle. We have not specifically discussed any single rotor machines on the site to date, and the largest we’ve touched in the consumer market is eight, but again, what we’ve covered historically matters little to what is out there.

If you are flying for pay, or any other form of compensation, you must operate under a different set of rules and possess a commercial drone license. We call it the Part 107, it’s not too hard to get, but it will take some time to learn all the rules. We want to help you learn the rules and get your commercial license, check out our drone pilot training material.

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