I'm completely new for flying. I've read the guidelines at DIYDrones/Arducopter google/code site.
Could someone please answer following questions.
- Is it legally okay to fly my quad in a safe open area found in my apartment complex?
- Is buying AMA membership is a must or an optional thing? usually does most people buy that?
AMA is totally up to you. The biggest benefit is insurance. If you crash into someone else's property or person and cause damage they will help you with insurance. It is also dependent on following their safety codes and such, so where you fly and whether they will cover you or not at that location are something worth looking into.
AMA will be required at most official rc club flying fields however, so if you fly there, it's a good idea.
As for ok to fly in an open area? Well that's tricky. I fly mine in my backyard all the time. It's a proven machine that has never tried to just fly off on it's own. Some other quads that I have seen on different flight controllers seem to just lose their mind and fly off on their own. I would hate for that to happen and crash into a person/property. So once you trust your machine, and your abilities, yeah I would fly it in an area like you describe. First few flights might be best done in a larger, more unpopulated area though.
I've been in the AMA for a few years. This gets me insurance when I fly it, and means I can take my helicopter down to the local flying field and meet fellow enthusiasts/play with the other kids. Not heard any unusual whining about a "drone"/quadcopter versus a "real plane", other than the usual "planes are better than helicopters/no they're not" debate which has been going on since Sikorsky was a boy.
There may be local ordinances against what you are doing; check with the apartment building office or (if you are flying in a town park/school playing field) the town hall or the police beforehand.
If you are flying in public (open area in your apartment complex or a nearby park), my advice would watch out for a few things:
Stay far away from the general public until you are good at it.
People will come and watch you, or will come over to see what the noise is, or will yell at you for endangering them.
Children, dogs and other animals will try to catch your helicopter when it is on the ground/not very far off the ground.
Have a plan in your head for how to dump the 'copter (bring it down with minimum grace) if it gets away from you.
Be very aware of what is around you and your helicopter, and what is between you and it.