FAA Drone Test - What You Need to Know

Jacob Shipley 

Owner, Unveiled Media 

 

If you’re reading this, props to you! You’re taking the first step to becoming a certified Part 107 drone pilot. Sweet drone videos that make you some cash will be here before you know it. The process of studying for and taking the exam can be daunting, but the peace-of-mind, knowing that you are well within the law far outweighs the struggle.

 

WHY YOU NEED TO TAKE THE TEST

If you have any intention at all to fly a drone to further your business, you NEED to take the test. The way the rules are written means that even if you don’t make money off of your drone footage, but you use it to promote you or your company’s services, the pilot needs to be Part 107 certified. Yes, it is a huge pain to study for an exam, drive to the nearest FAA testing center and fork over $150, but it’s a small price to pay to give both you and your clients assurance that you won’t get into any trouble.

 

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HOW TO STUDY FOR THE TEST

I’m not going to guarantee that you’ll pass the test when using these resources, but I will say that these are the documents and videos that I used prior to passing the test on the first try.

The FAA Study Guide:

I know, this book is thick, but it is the only document that the FAA assures will completely prepare you for the exam. I wouldn’t devote a ton of time to studying this, but it a great idea to start here and get a base understanding before switching to the practice quizzes. The maps in this book are also the same maps that will appear on the real exam. Try and get familiar with them! Also, if you are ever taking a practice quiz and don’t understand something, you can always turn back to this document to get clarification.

FAA Sample Exam and Rupprecht Law Study Guide:

I have absolutely no idea who Rupprecht is or why he created a study guide, but I can tell you that I relied heavily on his explanations of the official FAA Sample Exam. Unfortunately the FAA only offers a 40-question practice test, but Rupprecht’s explanations help you understand the correct answers and more importantly, the reason behind the answer.

3DR Practice Test:

According to 3DR, the test questions are broken down as follows: Regulations (15-25%), Airspace (15-25%), Weather Data and Theory (11-16%), Loading and Performance (7-11%), Operations: Airport Procedures, Emergencies and Maintenance (35-45%). I wasn’t keeping track of the question categories when taking the exam, but this seems roughly correct. The 3DR practice exam is based off of these numbers and has 130 questions to try out. If you can get these questions down and understand the WHY behind the questions, you’ve got a great shot at passing the real deal.

Matt Johnson:

Matt Johnson is easily my favorite wedding filmmaker. In this video he talks about his personal favorite resources and how he recommends preparing for the exam. Note that his resources tend to be paid rather than free.

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TAKING THE TEST

Here is a list of FAA testing centers. You simply need to find the location closest to you and schedule a time to take the exam. Ensure that you give yourself at least two weeks to study.

On the day of the test, be sure to bring your drivers license or your passport. You will need proof of identification prior to taking the exam. Your test is going to be 60 multiple choice questions and you’ll have two hours to complete the test. A 70% is required to pass. Try to get your practice quiz scores to at least 80% to provide some room in case you get thrown a real curveball in the exam room.

 

YOU PASSED!! WHAT’S NEXT?

Provided that you studied right and took the test seriously, you should be a Part 107 drone pilot! The next step is the FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application (IACRA). It’s all online and the paperwork you get after passing the test should walk you through the process. Don’t wait to get this done so that you can your license as soon as possible. Within 10 days, you will then get a temporary certificate that is valid for 120 days. During this time, you will get your permanent card mailed to you. Your license will last two years, but nobody really knows what happens next. Since this system is fairly new the FAA has not announced what the recertification process will look like.

 

FURTHER RESOURCES

AirMap:

This app is super useful for planning your flights. It gives you insights into what rules, regulations and recommendations stand in the way of your flight. More importantly, this app lets you submit waivers to get airspace approval. If you are filming an event within 5 miles of an airport (Class D Airspace), this app is incredibly handy!

Verifly:

Insurance is never fun, but sometimes clients and event venues require it. This little app is incredibly helpful for those situations. Starting at only $10/hour you can insure your company for up to $1,000,000 in damages to people and property. We use this almost every time we film and have no complaints!

Missouri Drone Journalism:

As a grad of the University of Missouri, I had to throw this one in. My old professor, Judd Slivka, now the director of aerial journalism at the Reynolds Journalism Institute, is a great thought leader in the field and is constantly posting great information. Check out their website for the latest news and tips.

Unveiled Media:

Selfish plug, I know, but as the field of drone videos keeps changing, we hope to continue creating useful content. Keep an eye on our blog page for a post on picking out your next drone. If you find yourself in need of a drone video in the Kansas City or Mid-Missouri area, please contact us and let us know how we can help!