Syma X5C

I knew I was going to buy the DJI Mavic Pro and even though I had read how easy it is to fly, I decided to buy a ‘practice’ drone first.  I figured if I was going to spend well over $1000 on a drone, even though it was computer and GPS controlled, I wanted to be able to fly it in the event that its sensors failed.  Based on favorable reviews and several videos, the first drone I picked up was the Syma X5C.   I found a good deal that included the drone, extra propellers, and 5 extra batteries all for about $65.  The X5C comes with prop guards, a small HD camera, and a remote.

The first time I took the drone out, I waited til the students left and flew in the parking lot at work.  Everything started well, but the wind grabbed the drone and took it toward trees.  The drone did not respond to the remote and it ended up at the very top of the highest tree imaginable.  I was very demoralized because my first thought was that maybe I was getting in over my head and this wasn’t for me.  The drone remained there for over 4 weeks and I figured it was a lost cause.  I would check on it periodically and students would regularly ask “Still up there Mr. Berta?”…Yup…still up there.

Finally, near the end of November, a very strong storm with wind gusts over 50 mph went through the area overnight.  I figured if that storm didn’t knock it down, nothing would.  The next morning I checked and to my delight, the drone had come down…into another tree, but only half as high as the first.  A good half hour’s worth of throwing sticks, rocks, and any object imaginable at the tree brought the drone down.  It was good to have it back so I could at least use it for spare parts. There was no way this was going to work again after spending 3 weeks in the elements…right?

Wrong!  I took the drone home, replaced the propellers (which were obviously dinged up) and put in a charged battery and it fired right up and flew stable and without issue.  I flew it several more times and improved each time I took it out.  Each battery lasts only about 5-6 minutes of flight time, but removing the prop guards and camera increases this to 7-9 minutes in my experience.  The drone also flies noticeably more stable without the extra weight.  The caveat is that if it does crash, you’re more likely to damage a propeller.  I would highly recommend the Syma X5C to anyone looking for a starter quadcopter.  My first flight aside, it is easy to fly on calm days and has very good range.  I flew it at a baseball field and it had no trouble getting to the other side of the park with strong reception and responsiveness.