FAA officially published Part 107 in 2016 and published an ammended version in Jan 2021. Part 107 allows certificated remote pilots to operate a small drone less than 55 lbs. for commercial use and the operations can be conducted over people, at night and from moving vehicles.
The key requirements to obtain the remote pilot certificate are to take the Part 107 course, knowledge test and obtain a FAA tracking number (FTN). There are two options available depending on whether you are a first-time pilot or an existing Part 61 pilot. The steps for either option is similar with the only difference being that first time pilots have to use an FAA approved Knowledge Testing Center, while Part 61 pilots can complete the course and take the test online. One requirement for existing Part 61 pilots is to have a current flight review within the last 24 months. After successful course completion, Part 61 pilots can use one of the available 4 methods to complete the process: make an appointment with FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO), FAA designated Flight Examiner (DPE), airman certification representative (ACR) or FAA Certified Flight Instructor (CFI).
In order to fly a drone for recreational purposes, there is no requirement to get a Part 107 certificate. Instead, the FAA requires recreational flyers to take and pass the Recreational unmanned aircraft system (UAS) Safety Test (TRUST) and carry the proof of passage when flying. The rules for recreational flyers are coded in USC 44809 and key requirements include following the rules of a Community Based Organization (CBO), always keeping the drone in sight, not interfering with existing national airspace system (NAS) operations, flying at or below 400ft in uncontrolled airspace, and at or below authorized altitudes in controlled airspace, carry proof of test passage, current registration (for Part 107), remote ID (for registered drones after Sept 2023), and to always ensure safety.
I have been thinking about getting my remote pilot certificate for some time now. Although, owing to not being current, I delayed getting the certificate. Now that I am current again, as a first milestone, I completed both my Part 107 remote pilot certificate as well as the recreational flyer TRUST course. The Part 107 course takes two solid hours to review the material and take the test, and the required a trip to the FSDO to submit and get a temporary certificate. The final one will be mailed within 6 months. The TRUST course on the other hand was fairly concise and can be completed in 30-40 minutes. Both Part 107 remote pilots and recreational flyers need to review the corresponding courses every 24 months.
It was just after I got my private pilot license, one of the first airshows I attended was the Salinas International Air Show. The biggest attraction was the Sean Tucker and Team Oracle. Local news was abuzz that year:
“Tucker returns with the excitement and enthusiasm of a kid who”s back to play before his hometown crowd. Having won the Championship Air Show Pilots Association (CASPA) Challenge for the fourth straight year this past July, he also brings the very best that the world of aerobatics has to offer.”
After watching him fly and see my very first airshow, I came away with excitement too. Aerobatics was on my mind. Tucker School of Aerobatics was a mere short drive away from my airport homebase and I even made the trek up there to checkout the school and aerobatics training opportunities.
Oracle Challenger III, the aircraft now graces the Thomas Haas We All Fly exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum. Since that first airshow, I have seen the Oracle Challenger at many airshows around the country, so excited to see it displayed at NASM.
No pilot ever forgets his first airplane ride – Bill Kershner
Coming across this quote recently brought back some fond memories of my very first flight in a small airplane. Seems almost another life time ago. but oh so true… a pilot never forgets!
It was back during my college days that I had the good fortune to go for my very first ride in a glider, ably piloted by my friend, a glider pilot and fellow class mate. It was a short and sweet flight. An introduction into the wonderful world of flying. Until then even though I had thought of it, it seemed beyond reach, not only in terms of access but also in terms of cost and effort needed. I had attended the local glider flying club meeting with him and considering the cost and options offered by the club, it almost seemed possible. I was excited and enthusiastic and ready to try.
Despite the excitement of my first flight, it’s my second flight though that overshadows my first one. Who can forget the adventure of an emergency landing on a street, the long day and process of dismantling the glider and towing it back to the airport?
Gliding? Hmm… maybe. While that episode caused a brief pause in pursuing my pilot license, it certainly did not deter me and a few years later, I did obtain my private pilot license. The joy of flying knows no bounds. It has to be experienced!
The National Air and Space Museum in DC is going through a complete transformation. The renovations in progress have added several new galleries. It is exciting to see a new General Aviation gallery. If it has been a while since you visited NMB, be sure to check it out if you are in the area. It might almost seem like a brand new museum!