There are really two kinds of pilots when it comes down to it: those who pilot manufactured aircraft and those who prefer to build their own quads. There’s actually kind of a third category, and I’m in it.
My first build was a tricopter, back in about 2011. The scene was still pretty new back then, and I was struck by a design Sweden’s David Windestål wrote about on his RCExplorer website. There was a lot to learn because I’d never really done anything like this before. Back then, there were little gadgets for flashing your ESCs, and the flight control boards were about the size of a small waffle iron, which made soldering a little less challenging than it is today. But if I wanted to understand how drones truly work, I theorized, I’d better learn to build one.
And so I did. It was a steep learning curve but a tremendously satisfying experience. I followed that model with a quad (and quads were big then) and tinkered with basic video transmission.