Aspiring sUAS pilot in Virginia
Answered By AOPA
Hi, I am new to the community. I am planning on retiring at the end of next year and I my goal is to become a Part 107 certificated remote pilot for my retirement years. I took private pilot training in 2000-2001 and completed my first solo in September 2001, but had to stop after the 9-11 attacks. I passed my knowledge test, but never went back to complete my flight training. With the introduction of affordable vehicles, I am looking to become a commercial sUAS pilot to combine my interests in flying and photography. I look forward to further discussions with the community members and welcome any advice you have to offer.

5 Replies
AOPA Staff Answer
Hi Rick,

Trying to revive/add to the topic brought up by Mr.Gallaher . While the FAA is still restrictive around airports, with the release of the LAANC system it has gotten a lot easier and faster to get permission to fly in those areas. The LAANC system can be accessed from many of the consumer planning outlets (Airmap, etc) and is faster and more convenient then in years past.

The process of getting your part 107 certificate is outlined on the FAA's page here, and does a good job of identifying the steps. You may also want to look at one of the third-party training providers like DartDrones for prep for the knowledge test and they even put practical/hands-on classes. There's tons of information out there and this is a quickly developing field, far outpacing the FAA's regulatory ability, so there will be growing pains as this newest sector of General Aviation settles in.
Hi Rick!
If you still need some guidance please feel free to reach out!
Not sure what good it really is these days. I have a drone and a license but never use either. It is extremely hard to find places that will even let you fly. I can't fly in my own yard without a waiver...
If you know someone that has land, without livestock etc... and they will let you fly then it may be worth the trouble to get proficient with a drone and maybe do some work after you get really good. For now the public doesn't like drones and people are turning back to helicopters for photo work unless they are not close to airports.

Another good training provider is Pilot Institute. He's using software that makes it easy for him to update the content (I'm a software developer), a phone app called 'Teachable' (I'm not assoc with them). So his lessons have been updated April 2021, which is after some relevant changes,  and you'll see text-notes/updates with the videos.

I am also one of those sitting during a lecture thinking, "Yea, I already know that..", I was an Air Force navigator. Pilot Institute presents it quickly, and tells you where the CFR is located so you can get info if you want it...

in nice quick bite sized chunks,


Hi, Rick. I'm a FAA Commercial Pilot with a FAA Remote Pilot certificate and State Government and Commercial Pilot permits in North Carolina. As Hoss said, the LAANC system makes flying within 5 miles of an airport much easier. I use the AirMap app on my phone, which is compatible with LAANC. Since I'm a FAA pilot, I was able to take the training on the FAA's website without attending another facility. That's also true of the more recent training that allows night flight. The challenge for me was drumming up enough local business to make it worthwhile. You should have insurance and data privacy policies. I think the premium for a minimum insurance policy was around $300 per year. North Carolina law prohibits taking off or landing on private or public property without authorization. Trying to find someone who will give you permission by email is a challenge. I ended up just using a public street for Part 107 takeoffs and landings. You have to be very careful about publishing photos or videos since there are hefty fines in NC for doing so without the permission of the people in them or property owners. You also have to be careful not to fly the UAS in such a way that it might be interpreted as intruding on someone's privacy. In other words, don't linger around a house or car and don't fly over people. I gave up on creating videos for weddings and other events with a lot of people since it's just about impossible to get permission from everyone. Real estate companies will sometimes pay for photos and videos depending on how familiar they are with the value of UAS. It's a lot less expensive for them compared to helicopter photos/videos not to mention a lot quieter. You should do some market research before spending any money on insurance or drone equipment to make sure there's enough business to justify the fixed costs.