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My first unmanned aerial vehicle.

I’m finally a drone pilot — in the most unofficial sense, ever.

Like thousands of others, I opened up a drone for Christmas on Thursday morning. “I thought you needed one for reporting,” my father told me. While I didn’t run around the house like a madman after finding a Nintendo Gamecube under the tree 10 years ago, the idea of flying a drone for the first time every was pretty damn exciting.

This is not a good place for a drone.

After charging up the battery, I stepped outside and set the unmanned aerial vehicle on my driveway, eagerly ready to take flight. I cranked the throttle forward and just like that, my new drone was airborne. This was awesome.

Then, two minutes later, I was standing on a ladder, arms outstretched, window cleaning pole in hand  — this, in fact, was not so awesome.

As you can see to the right, I immediately lost control of the quadcopter and the Drone Gods punished me by resting the device in a tree branch 50 feet up in the air.

Yes, probably should have opted for an open field for my first drone experience — turns out many other first-time flyers on Thursday would probably agree.

I tried heaving a basketball and soccer ball at the drone, in hopes that it would nudge off the branch and come back to its owner. No luck.

The window washer ended up doing the trick, and somehow, my drone survived the fall. Phew.

We decided that the elementary school field up the street was a better place to test this thing out. Maybe I should have watched the “Know Before You Fly” drone video that the FAA put out earlier this week — they posted that for a good reason, it seems.

I felt much more nervous and wary when trying to fly the drone again up at the school, even though there weren’t many people around in a wide-open area. Knowing how badly I lost control of the flying machine just minutes earlier created an uneasy feeling.

A view from the drone, with the operators below.

I proceeded with caution this time around, and actually spent a few minutes reading the instructional booklet. Slowly but surely, I became more comfortable with the drone.

At one point, I took the drone up about 100 feet in the air — those nervous feelings quickly came back, as it felt that the higher the drone went, the less control I had.

The UDI U818A certainly is no DJ Phantom — from a flying, camera-quality, and cost standpoint — but as far as I can tell, it’s definitely a great starter kit for drone noobs like myself that need to learn the basics of flying these machines.

Aside from the initial tree mishap, my initial drone experience was really awesome. I kind of feel addicted to flying drones already  — in fact, I went back up to the school to try again, one hour after the inaugural flight.

Now, I’m seriously thinking about how GeekWire could use drones effectively for reporting, or what sweet aerial vantage points I could film with my own drone. Taking one of these bad boys up high above a city skyline would be sweet — but as we learned last week, the FAA probably wouldn’t be too thrilled about that.

Maybe I’ll take this out to a golf course instead.

Related: My first time piloting a drone: A little fear, no crash landings

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