Directional Control for Your Drone

By Mark LaFay

Becoming an expert level drone pilot requires a little extra flight training. By design, multi-rotor aircraft have great navigational control, but that control takes time to master. Airplanes, unlike multi-rotor aircraft, can only fly nose forward which means that if you want to go a particular direction, you need to steer that direction much like you would in a boat.

Quadcopters, however, have the ability to go forward and backward, move left and right, and move vertically. Directional control is achieved by adjusting the roll, pitch, yaw, and throttle of your quadcopter.

  • Roll: Tilts your quadcopter to the left or the right by speeding up the rotors on one side of your quadcopter and slowing them down on the other side. By doing so, one side of the drone will sag, or tilt downward, causing the drone to strafe to the left or the right.

  • Pitch: Tilts your quadcopter forward and backward in the same manner as rolling. By adjusting the pitch, your drone will sag down in the front causing it to go forward, or sag in the back causing it to go backwards.

  • Yaw: Rotates the nose of your aircraft left to right. Quadcopter propellers do not tall spin in the same direction. If they did, the centrifugal force would cause them to just spin out of control. In order to combat that, diagonally opposing propellers spin in the same direction. This picture details the directions in which propellers spin. To rotate your quadcopter the rotors that spin in the same direction will speed up to rotate the air craft to the left or the right.

    Propellers do not all spin the same direction. [Credit: Source: Grabriel Hoffmann/ Creative Commons
    Credit: Source: Grabriel Hoffmann/ Creative Commons.
    Propellers do not all spin the same direction.
  • Throttle: Controls the motion of your drone up and down by speeding up or slowing down all of the propellers.