Filming with the new, Mavic Air drone

Some past history

You’ll recall that I had tried working with a Drone Clone, produce in china, and sold for about $60, shipping included.  For $60, the drone was pretty incredible, and while it had a great many flaws, it allowed me to understand drones enough, so that I would give up on these clones, and get myself a proper drone.  The SG700 was unreliable, and so if I turned on the drone, and wanted to simply launch and record, I was often forced to deal with a drone that would not calibrate properly, which caused very erratic flight patterns.

As I mentioned, I had had enough with the other drone, and I sent away for a new drone, which was released in April 2018, is manufactured by DJI (The worldwide leader in drones), and is stuffed with numerous features which will prove to be really important on the tour.

The first flight

It took about an hour to put the drone together, assemble the battery charger, and get the drone, controller and iPhone app updated.  I had previously watched a few YouTube videos, so I figured I would just run out onto the front lawn, and give it a try.

First of all, this drone is aware of it’s location to within a few inches.  Using visual cues through the cameras, and using the GPS receiver, it is able to capture it’s starting location as part of the startup process, and at any point during the flight you can get the drone to return to you by pressing a button.  My last drone also had a “Return Home” button, but the one time that I pressed it, the drone had not been properly calibrated, and the drone sped off in the opposite direction of home.  So, I feared that using that feature might cause me to lose, or wreck the drone, so I focused my energy elsewhere.  But the Mavic Air’s “Return Home” feature worked great, and each time I pressed it, the drone returned home and landed within a foot of the landing pad, sometimes landing on the pad, in the exact location that it launched from.

How far will this thing go

I know that we’ve all see drone footage of a drone that seems to travel miles, always recording video, and always sending it’s signal back to the pilot.  But I have to tell you, when you launch your drone, and you’re flying it through the Point of View (POV) camera, you tend to get kinda nervous about how far the drone can fly, without losing it’s signal.  I’m told that the drone can fly further than a mile away without having any problems, and so my next videos will be long distance recording, and a really cool follow-me shot of me riding the bike around the neighborhood.  But for now, I just sent the drone up the street a few hundred yards, turned it around, passed my house, and ended the recording at a cul-de-sac that’s about 200 yards down the road.

I did some minor editing on the video, cutting out waste, but I also added some narration, as well as music.  So, if you watch the video, be mindful that this is what I was able to produce after 1 hour practice with the drone, and about 30 hours of practice with Adobe Elements Premiere 2018.


About the Author

Cliff Musante

Cliff Musante is a technologist, business leader, motorcycle enthusiast, father, grandfather, and more. In June, 2013 his passion for motorcycles was revitalized, and he set out to ride across Patagonia. Since then, he's logged thousands of miles, ridden across the US, and on July 10, 2019, he began a 120 day trip through Europe, and then on to Russia, China, and parts East. This 'Blog is the story of all of his adventures.


  1. How much was the new drone? I am thinking of getting one, but am more than willing to let you work out the kinks…

  2. Hi Lee,
    The drone is about $800, but since it only comes with 1 battery, and one set of propellers, etc, I opted for an accessory kit that provides 2 extra batteries, a quad charger, landing pad, and several other important items. In total, the quad copter cost me about $1050 delivered from Amazon.
    And by the way, there are definitely a number of things that need to be figured out. So, you’re wise to wait until I play with it for a few weeks.

  3. Cliff once you learn everything about Drones and realize you should have purchased something else then I’ll buy yours really cheap with all the flaws and the crashes into the trees and that car.

    I loved the flight around your neighborhood. Nice homes. Do you miss belmont?


    1. Hi Dave,
      Great to hear from you. Well, if you want to buy a Chinese clone, simply called the SG700, I’ve got one for sale. But, this new Mavic Air drone is a pretty remarkable piece of technology. It’s almost idiot proof, and it has some of the most advanced features available on any drone built. So, it looks like you’ll need to buy your own, but, the model that I purchased is only $800. As for missing Belmont, I would have to say yes. The new place is very spacious, and the neighborhood is clean and calm, but it lacks the edginess of NORCAL.
      I’m glad to see that you’re rooting me on as I prepare for the trip. Still, lots more to do, many problems to solve, but I’m slowly getting through them.

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