How to Fly a Multirotor

by FliteTest | June 16, 2014 | (32) Posted in How To

We fly a ton of multirotors here on the show, so today Josh and Alex are going to share some tips on flying a multirotor for you newbies out there. 

Keep in mind that all of these tips are not ment to be mastered in one day. Don't move on to the next tip until you are 100% comfortable with the previous. Patience in the name of the game. 


The first thing you will want to learn how to do is the simple hover. This is the equivalent of a baby learning to stand before it can walk or run. 

Always keep the craft facing away from you when you start. You will constantly be making minor corrections with the right stick to keep it steady. You're goal here is start building up the confidence needed to keep the craft in the air. Spend enough time with the hover until you can take off, keep it in one spot, and land with no problem. 


After you can expertly hover you should move on to Walking the Dog. Remember, don't rush until you know you are ready!

Walking the Dog is pretty straight forward and exactly like it sounds. You walk behind your craft so that it is always facing away from you and this is were you start to work in the rudder. Imagine a leash between you and the craft. Wherever it goes you will be right behind it. "Walk" the craft around the location keeping in mind everything that you learned while you practiced hovering. You don't want it to get too far away from you but don't stay so close that it is unsafe. Nothing ruins your day faster then a few props to the face! 


After spending a few days walking the multirotor, your ready for The "S" Turn. 

Starting with the craft infront of you, fly away from yourself to to one side (right or left). Then you turn the craft 180°, fly it past yourself, then turn it 180° again, and repeat. This should be the first time you control the craft with it facing towards you. The trick is it will only be that way until it passes the point where you are standing. This will give you a taste of how the controls will feel with the nose coming towards you. This will be one of the harder goals to reach so take it slow and believe in yourself! Start with tiny, small "S" shapes and then work into bigger ones. 


Once you have conquered The "S" Turn, you are ready to start trying Pattern Flying.

This is it! The last hurdle. Pattern flying will be one of the more difficult challenges while learning and YOU ARE GOING TO CRASH! Just get over it now and save yourself the heartache. A simple circle pattern is the best one to start with and this is actually what most clubs will require you to fly at a field. Take everything that you have learned from Hovering, Walking the Dog, and The "S" Turn and this is where you will begin to put them all together. Again, this is not an easy task so just keep trying! 


If at ANY point you feel like you are losing control of the craft, chop the throttle. Throw that stick down as fast as you can. You will not be able to recover orientation after you lose it or get confused. By the time you try to correct the craft may already be heading straight at you or someone else!

Saftey is more important that trying to save the multirotor. It is much easier to fix a broken boom that go to the hospital to fix a broken body! 

We hope that these tips will help out all you newbie multirotor pilots out there. Just keep trying, don't move on until you feel confident, and BE SAFE! Also, don't forget to have fun :)


What tips would you give to someone learning to fly multirotors? Chat it up in the forums!


rollinolin on June 17, 2014
Could you be so kind to put motors..esc's and other electronics you used on this?
Also how long does it fly for?
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Fastlearner on June 17, 2014
Perfectly timed article. At this point all I have is an i86 board on Bixler's H-Quad build. I was starting to get discouraged until I saw this article.
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mipi on June 17, 2014
Can you tell us the your tricopter setup (motor/props)?
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ashbreeze on June 16, 2014
Do I smell a multiroter tuning guide coming up soon?
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Ultimate_Red on June 17, 2014
Hmm.. I think I might.... It will be nice though..
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donnyb on June 17, 2014
That is a great video. I got the hovering down, now it's time to walk the dog. Trying to learn patterns in the living room usually breaks a lot of props. Lol!
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Paulobrasil on June 17, 2014
Vary Nice Video, and just in time! I finished to built my tricopter (anycopter) and doing mi firsts flies!
Bom vĂ­deo eu acabei de construir meu tricoptero e estou nos primeiros voos!
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steadfast4life on June 16, 2014
I second that motion--multirotor tuning for the masses!
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Hookdriver on June 16, 2014
It is funny that I just got an email from the guys this weekend about this exact subject. VERY good advice in this episode. Keep up the good work guys!
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sleepy1956 on June 18, 2014
great show,would be nice to have a new one ever 30 day.the new one would be more adv. then the last.that so people could can go at there own pace. the show could end with ,how to do trick or fly fpv.
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Paulobrasil on June 18, 2014
I relay Like the video my any-copter already made flight! But there is a lot people who need setup their flight controller. I suggest a video about it in beginner view!
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GBDIVER on June 17, 2014
Thanks guys for doing this video on Quad Copters. I am just learning how to fly my 1SQ and ProtoX and this video it a GREAT starter. I am going to pass this information on to members of the my club how are getting intro ducted into the joy of Quads. Thanks again & see you at Flit Fest.
Greg Bowles
Spirits of St. Louis RC Flying Club
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petedotnl on June 28, 2014
thanks Flite Test for sharing this knowledge. it turned my Blade mQX from a lawnmower into an aircraft. oh yes i'm actually flying now. happiest man on earth. thanks so much.
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TEAJR66 on June 17, 2014
Is that Foam and Tape in the background? Again??? I smell a Flite Test T-Shirt in that young mans near future. Just sayin.
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Yogenh on June 19, 2014
This is a great help I will have to try it this way and I think that I will d a lot better
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Gantorin on June 17, 2014
Awesome tips... I have been trying to find ways to get better at my Huban X4 rudder, and not having much success. I have been walking the dog, but I did not know that was what I was doing or if it was helping me any. I will try to prefect my skills... Thank goodness for my 4 battery rotation... lol Time to burn my electrons.
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Billbo911 on June 17, 2014
Wow, I can't believe my luck. I just built (RCExplorer Tri) and started flying my first Multi a couple weeks ago. Prior to that, I had ZERO experience. It sounds like I kinda jumped in mid stream.
I have flown through 20-25 batteries, mostly hovering, but I have started flying up and down my street, which is way too narrow and lined with trees. (Yeah, I've stuffed it into them a few times now :) ),
Thanks for the exercises to use to get better control, I will start using them right away! As for flying without Auto level, that scares me to death! I understand your reasoning, but I'm not so sure. The Multiwii controller is amazing, but flying it in Acro mode??? I better stock up on props, arms and get the GoPro back into it's protective housing. I already had to replace the lens once.

Keep the awesome content coming, it is very inspirational!
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rccollecter on June 19, 2014
Great show. It would be good for one episode to be about the 600mw FPV transmitter and the HAM license
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Klinger RC on June 16, 2014
Electrohub??? Were do you have that? Is it in your store or is it a scratch build?
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ashbreeze on June 16, 2014
The Electrohub is a product from FliteTest. From what I understand it is essentially an anycopter hub that incorporates power distribution. As of right now it is not yet released in their store.
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ABQ Bobcat on June 17, 2014
Great safety tips that will keep us in good graces with the general public. If you think of your multi as a flying lawnmower and what that could do, that is a good start. It just bugs me when you see videos of people flying multis so close to others - some serious damage could occur.

I remember a video of two tech people trying to show how a AR Parrot could be disabled in flight when one of the hosts took a DJI Phantom within inches of the other host's face. Scary stuff.
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Sub_IT_Guy on April 3, 2015
Thank you for the "training". I would love to know what you think of the HK S500 FR4. I am considering this as my first build platform. It seems like a great item for the price but as a new builder I am hoping that it is worth the low price, I would hate to have to waste that $115 to learn it isn't worth it. Is this truly an add my (spektrum) receiver and get it trimmed item? Seems too good to be true. You guys are awesome and I have been re-excited about planes and copters because of your amazing youtube videos and site. Thank you!!!!
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giosico on March 5, 2015
Great stuff guys. As this is a beginner tip perhaps explain before you start, via a diagram, what each stick does relative to flight, before you jump straight into that during flight. Because as a beginner I was trying to watch for all the controls without any knowledge of what they are. Cheers.
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codger51 on January 14, 2015
Thanks for the great tutorial. My wife got me a quad-copter for Christmas and I have watched the video a few times and now I am looking for a large empty field to practice in. It will have to be some distance from my house as I live inside the 5 mile range of an airport.
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BigDaddy0004 on January 28, 2015
What a great video for those new to multirotors like me. Please tell us more about the camera mount used on Alex's transmitter to show the stick movements. That is an excellent teaching tool! Thanks!
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del_FlyinJack on June 7, 2016
Thanks for the great article. Just a couple of things I noticed while trying to learn to hover in expert mode.

I have the Alias by Latrax. Great little quad, does amazing things even when you are a beginner and I love it. I switched it into expert mode (no stabilization) and got it to hover pretty quickly. But that was just facing away from me. As soon as I turned it around to face me, of course everything was reversed. Better yet, I turned it sideways to the left and again the configuration changed, so I had to get used to that. Then changing it toward the right was like a whole new experience. I see why Alex said to burned 30 to 50 batteries on just hovering.

I figure that if you can get your quad to hover in a 5' x 5' area in all directions, your well on your way to being ready.

Thanks for those safety tips as well. Quads can be dangerous enough when you're a pro so when your're at a stage where controlling your aircraft is still a bit of a challenge, it's a good idea to be extra careful.

Keep up the good work guys!!!
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Rcdude on May 26, 2016
What is the best quad out there? Great job FT. Keep up the good work.
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How to Fly a Multirotor