Flying 101

This topic explains the basics of flying a vehicle using an RC Transmitter in a manual or autopilot-assisted flight mode (for autonomous flight see: Missions).

Before you fly for the first time you should read our First Flight Guidelines.

Arm the Vehicle

Before you can fly the vehicle it must first be armed (this will start the propellers rotating).

The vehicle will not arm until it is calibrated/configured and have a position lock. Vehicle Status Notifications (including on-vehicle LEDs, audio notifications and QGroundControl updates) can tell you when the vehicle is ready to fly (and help you work out the cause when it is not ready to fly).

To arm the drone, put the throttle stick in the bottom right corner. This will start the propellers on a multicopter.

To disarm, put the throttle stick in the bottom left corner. Alternatively arming and disarming can also be performed in QGroundControl (PX4 does not require a radio control for flying autonomously).

Takeoff and Landing

The easiest way to takeoff is to use the automatic Takeoff mode (remembering that you need to arm the vehicle before you can engage the vehicle motors). To land again automatically you can use Land or Return modes.

The automatic takeoff/landing modes are highly recommended, in particular for Fixed Wing vehicles.

For multicopter (and VTOL in multicopter mode) pilots can:

  • Take off manually by enabling position mode, arming the vehicle, and then raising the throttle stick above 62.5%. Above this value all controllers are enabled and the vehicle goes to the throttle level required for hovering (MPC_THR_HOVER).
  • Land manually by pressing the throttle stick down until the vehicle lands and disarms (or set COM_DISARM_LAND > 0 to disarm automatically on landing).

If you see the vehicle "twitch" during landing (turn down the motors, and then immediately turn them back up) this is probably caused by a poor Land Detector Configuration (specifically, a poorly set MPC_THR_HOVER).

Flight Controls/Commands

All flying, including takeoff and landing, is controlled using the 4 basic commands: roll, yaw, pitch and throttle.

RC Basic Commands

In order to control your aircraft you need to understand how the basic Roll, Pitch, Yaw and Throttle commands affect movement in 3D space. This differs depending on whether you're controlling a forward-flying aircraft like a plane, or a "hover aircraft" like a multicopter.

Hover Aircraft

Hover aircraft (Copter, VTOL in hover mode) respond to the movement commands as shown below:

Basic Movements Multicopter

  • Pitch => Forward/Back.
  • Roll => Left/right.
  • Yaw => Left/right rotation around the centre of the frame.
  • Throttle => Changed altitude/speed.

Forward-flying Aircraft

Forward-flying aircraft (planes, VTOL in forward flight) respond to the movement commands as shown below:

Basic Movements Forward

  • Pitch => Up/down.
  • Roll => Left/right and a turn.
  • Yaw => Left/right tail rotation and turn.
  • Throttle => Changed forward speed.

The best turn for airplanes is called a coordinated turn, and is performed using roll and little yaw at the same time. This maneuver requires experience!

Assisted Flight

Even with an understanding of how the vehicle is controlled, flight in fully manual mode can be quite unforgiving. New users should configure their transmitter to use flight modes where the autopilot automatically compensates for erratic user input or environmental factors.

The following three modes are highly recommended for new users:

  • Stabilized - Vehicle hard to flip, and will level-out if the sticks are released (but not hold position)
  • Altitude - Climb and drop are controlled to have a maximum rate.
  • Position - When sticks are released the vehicle will stop (and hold position against wind drift)

You can also access automatic modes through the buttons on the bottom of the QGroundControl main flight screen.

© PX4 Dev Team. License: CC BY 4.0            Updated: 2020-10-28 22:06:47

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