Part 107 Certification
Drones have become extremely popular these days. The technology is amazing, capable of remote control up to four miles away, high definition down link so you see what the drone sees, simple to fly, and they open up a completely new perspective of our landscape. Of course with innovation like this comes regulation too.
Here in the United States, pretty much anyone can buy a drone and fly it for their personal enjoyment. They do have to register the aircraft with the FAA, but for $5 you essentially register yourself and as many drones as you like. There are guidelines on how to fly safely, some of those include staying under 400′ above the ground and notifying any and every little airport if you are operating within five miles of them. Naturally, you cannot fly close to major airports. You are welcome to take photos and enjoy them yourself…but…here’s where it gets muddy. If you or someone or some entity benefit from the photos or videos you take, that is considered a commercial activity.
You can’t take photos of your house, then use them in the listing to sell it…you can’t take pics of your church and have them use it on their Facebook page…you can’t sell your images or videos….things like that, the FAA considers commercial activities. If you want to do that, you need to become Part 107 certified. Part 107 is just a reference to the code of law about commercial drone activities.
As a photographer, I want the ability to sell my images and video. So I had to become certified. The material you need to know to take the exam is readily available online, though not in any really organized fashion. I decided to purchase a training course that compiled the information I needed and presented it in a fashion I could easily absorb. I chose Gold Seal UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) Ground School. The course was $150. You can take it at your own pace and your have access to it forever, even as it updated when rules change. Gold Seal also guarantees you will pass the test or they will reimburse you for the test fee…which, incidentally, is also $150. The material is challenging if you aren’t in the aviation field or a meteorologist. But it is learnable. I took the exam – 60 questions, multiple choice in two hours – and passed with a 93%.
As a Part 107 Certified Remote Pilot, you no longer have to call every little podunk airport that you are within a five mile radius of. Now you understand airspace and airport operations, so you have many more areas that you can just fly in. And as a Part 107 pilot, you can fly in controlled airspace areas – like in the proximity of major airports – with a proper FAA Authorization. Authorizations are not available to hobbyists.
I am proud and excited to be a certified pilot! This opens a lot of opportunity for me to offer aerial services and imagery to clients and is a complimentary service to my other photography endeavors.