For students looking to become drone pilots, two new workshops at Virginia Tech Drone Park will connect them with the resources and expertise needed to take the certification test.
The workshops, led by Drone Fleet Manager Sarah Macey, cover the subject matter of the FAA Remote Pilot Certificate Exam. This certificate allows drone pilots to operate under Part 107, the federal regulations that govern commercial and non-profit drone flights. The certificate is also required to fly a drone on the Virginia Tech campus, regardless of the purpose of the flight, under the drone policy adopted by the university in 2017.
Both workshops will be offered in person, in the small classroom adjacent to the drone park, and broadcast on Zoom. The first session will take place from 5 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. on October 20. âThis will be an introduction to the basics of Part 107 – things like flight restrictions, basic rules, tips for taking the exam,â Macey said.
The second workshop, on November 3, will focus on a single topic: airspace characterization. The Part 107 exam includes questions on how the FAA classifies different types of airspace, the flight rules in each, and how to interpret dense and cryptic aeronautical charts whose symbols provide a flood of detail about things like airports, restricted areas, radio frequencies, and military training routes. For many people who take the test, Macey said, this is the most intimidating part.
âThe information is very complicated and I have found it much easier to learn it in person, where someone can be in the room with you to answer questions and point out the differences, than to watch a online video and try to memorize everything. “
Macey speaks from experience: She has helped prepare dozens of future drone pilots for the exam through her work leading training courses with the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, a designated drone test site. the FAA. And while many online study guides and tutorials theoretically allow anyone to prepare for the test on their own, she saw great benefits in reviewing the material in person with an experienced instructor.
âPeople have different learning styles, on the one hand,â she said. “And in an environment where everyone is talking and thinking about the material together, you answer questions that you wouldn’t have thought of until you got to the exam and you realize” Oh, I don’t know that too although I thought so. You are able to fill in gaps that you didn’t realize existed.
She also pointed out that major changes to drone regulations – and the test itself – over the past year mean that a significant portion of these online resources are outdated. For students who are not yet familiar with the material, distinguishing the current from the old is tricky.
Macey initially developed the workshops as an extension of one of his other new initiatives – a grant program that makes it easier for undergraduates to obtain their Part 107 licenses by reimbursing the $ 175 test fee – but they are open to everyone on campus.
âThe first time I took the exam, I didn’t know anyone else who had already taken it, so I couldn’t ask about the material or what the test would look like,â a- she declared. âI hope the workshops can reduce some of this uncertainty and make the process a little less intimidating. “
Building a community is integral to Macey’s vision for the drone park. Groups from across campus – and beyond – pass through the park for drone activities of one type or another. The 85-foot-tall mesh structure – essentially a football-pitch-sized outdoor classroom and research facility – provides students from a growing array of departments with a place to learn how drones are used in their discipline and how to manage them. Researchers come to the park to test the experimental technology under real conditions in an enclosed environment. It’s a training ground for the drone racing team and a site for awareness events for everyone from Girl Scouts to federal officials. Macey also worked with Honors College students to develop a custom Canvas site that houses training and educational materials specific to Virginia Tech. She hopes the park can become a place where many of these groups can connect with each other and share information and ideas.
Macey is committed to finding more and more ways to make the drone fleet a versatile and valuable resource for the Virginia Tech community. These workshops are two other pieces of the puzzle.
Register for both workshops at this link.
Workshop 1: Part 107 Basics
Wednesday, October 20, 5 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Workshop 2: Characterization of airspace
Wednesday November 3 5 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.