Recently, I obtained my Remote Pilot’s Certification and have been getting a lot of questions from people in the FPV and general aviation community about this. As such I thought I would write a question and answer post about my experience with this. Most importantly I tell you how I prepared for the exam and how I recommend to prepare for others.
Why do you need to get your Remote Pilot’s Certification?
As a pure hobbyist you do not need to get a Remote Pilot’s Certificate. You can operate your RC aircraft and drones within the guidelines of the FAA. You you want to operate a drone for some kind of commercial activity (aerial photography, surveying, mapping, etc) you DO require the remote pilot’s certification.
I recently purchased a Phantom 3 Standard and have ambitions of using this commercially in 2017 for photography and videography.
How do you obtain the Remote Pilot’s Certification?
Check out this link on the FAA website which list all of the requirements for the certification. There you will find out about the basic age requirements you will also find out how to register for the aeronautical knowledge test. This test covers the following topics from the FAA website:
- Applicable regulations relating to small unmanned aircraft system rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation
- Airspace classification and operating requirements, and flight restrictions affecting small unmanned aircraft operation
- Aviation weather sources and effects of weather on small unmanned aircraft performance
- Small unmanned aircraft loading and performance
- Emergency procedures
- Crew resource management
- Radio communication procedures
- Determining the performance of small unmanned aircraft
- Physiological effects of drugs and alcohol
- Aeronautical decision-making and judgment
- Airport operations
- Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures
How did I prepare for the exam?
There are a number of options out there for preparing for the exams including in person courses and paid for online video courses. I choose not to take either of these are prepare on my own. I spent about 5 hours studying for the exam focusing on the following materials:
- The online FAA course. This gives you a good overview of the regulations specific to drone operation like how and when you can fly, requirements of the drone, airspace classes. Check it out here.
- The pilot’s handbook of aeronautical knowledge. This is a great resource not just for the test, but also as a general guide on aviation. Read it over as you have time.
- My main focus for preparing for the exam was taking the practice exam and really understanding the answers. The exam can be found here. Take the exam and REALLY understand the answer and the theory behind the answers. There aren’t really any surprises on the exam if you know this question set.
Test taking tips
You are given 2 hours to take the test and it is 61 questions. There are a lot of questions about charts. This is the one topic which unless you come from an aviation background you really have to study for. One tip I have for you is to know ahead of time you will be given a book of charts to take the test with and in that book is a very detailed legend of the charts. I found a few answers to questions in that book as I was taking it. Beyond that – take your time going through the questions. You have the ability to mark a question so that you can return to it later. Run through the questions initially answering the obvious one and then come back to the others later.
Ok, that’s it for now. Please post any comments and questions you have about the test here on the blog.