Welcome back to the IFW Drone Discovery Discussion. Many of you are considering adding Drone/sUAS operations to your extensive tool kit for fighting fires. As you see from my last article, I am a proponent of “drones for good,” using this important technology marvel to help modern-day firefighters make more effective decisions with a set of eyes in the sky!
Users manipulate basic intuitive controls, like a game controller for an Xbox or PlayStation, to fly drones. These controls take practice to use. And, as I touched on in the last article, the FAA requires a Part 107 license to use a drone commercially.
So where is an aspiring firefighter supposed to begin? We will discuss the answer to this question in today’s IFW Drone Discovery Discussion.
PREP FOR CERTIFICATION
Let’s start with prepping for FAA sUAS Part 107 Certification. Getting your Part 107 Commercial License sets a foundation for successful drone operation. This certification demonstrates your understanding of air space/flight operations, fundamental aircraft dynamics, and weather conditions. The certification shows that the Part 107-certified Commercial pilot understands flight safety operations and the proverbial “rules of the road.”
But many prospective commercial drone pilots feel intimated by certification requirements. A glance at FAA Sectional Charts (think of them as airspace maps) or METARS (think of them as pilot weather reports) intimidates. Look up these terms on Google and read the examples. It appears far more complicated than reading a GPS Map or listening to a local weather report.
But never fear. There are many wonderful resources that can help prospective pilots prepare for the FAA Part 107 Certification Test.
With COVID-19 impacting in person learning, more courses are available for learning online. The classes range from video conference-style classes to true online learning (at your own pace). Let’s discuss the two options.
SUNDANCE MEDIA GROUP
I spoke with my long-time colleague Douglas Spotted Eagle of Sundance Media Group (SMG), a well-respected and professional training company with over 27 years of teaching experience. Eagle has worked with unmanned aircraft since 2010, before Part 107 Certification existed.
He says many public safety professionals take SMG’s two-day intensive (7-hours per day) video conference class. SMG keeps the classes small so participants can quickly meet the requirements of FAA Part 107 Prep. The interactive setting allows SMG instructors to direct class participation and monitor participant understanding of the material.
Since classes can comprise public safety professionals like firefighters and police officers, instructors customize the material to concentrate on situations that participants are most likely to encounter in the field when illustrating concepts found on the FAA Part 107 Knowledge Test.
SMG’s Eagle recommends students prepare for the test with about two weeks of self-study, culminating with SMG’s two-day FAA 107 prep class. To find out more, contact Eagle and Sundance Media Group at www.sundancemediagroup.com.
DRONE PILOT GROUND SCHOOL
Not every agency or prospective pilot can devote two seven-hour days to intensive video training. What’s a pilot to do when they don’t have that kind of time?
Enter Drone Pilot Ground School. Drone enthusiast Alan Perlman founded UAV Coach and has offered pilots online training since 2014—before the FAA required Part 107 certification. In 2016, Perlman introduced the training when he identified a need for formalized online training to help perspective pilots achieve Part 107 Certification. Perlman’s company has since taught over 30,000 students.
The self-paced class consists of an intuitive combination of videos, linked charts and diagrams that immerse students in the concepts needed to earn Part 107 Certification. I tried it myself and found it effective in communicating complex information in easily digestible chunks. For more on Perlman’s innovative approach to prepping for the Part 107 Certification exam, head over to www.dronepilotgroundschool.com.
I found this online course to be comprehensive with several added benefits. For example, Perlman is so sure of his students’ success rate, that he will refund the cost of the course and pay for you to take the test again if you are unsuccessful the first time.
Sundance Media Group and Drone Pilot Ground School approach teaching and prepping prospective Commercial Drone Pilots differently. But their goal is the same: to help pilots become FAA certified. I recommend both schools with confidence. Both schools have amazing success rates of a near-perfect percentage of students to certification rate.
Let me hear from you with questions and feedback, happy flying, Mike @drone2mike (Twitter).