Sponsored by Sporty’s —
While the FAA’s rules and regulations may be giving both commercial drone operators and hobbyists fits, they have to be addressed if you want to fly a drone. For start ups or businesses looking to exploit drone technology to build revenue streams, established flight training programs can help fulfill FAA regulations. Sporty’s Pilot Shop just outside of Cincinnati is one such outfit that is embracing the growth of drones and looking to share their knowledge of manned flight and apply it in the area of unmanned flight (UAS).
Sporty’s was founded 54 years ago by a flight instructor. It has grown substantially over the years and has a solid team that has bonded together through their passion for flying.
Sporty’s offers a range of aviation products, but their core stock in trade is flight training. John Zimmerman, a pilot and vice-president at Sporty’s, said in a phone conversation that some pilots are afraid or distrustful of drones and have concerns that they might steal jobs. Others, he said, “see the promise and value – a lot of pilots get it.” Zimmerman sees an opportunity in expanding Sporty’s flight training programs to offer world class training for unmanned aircraft.
Zimmerman told us that Sporty’s is developing a course specifically tailored for UAS to be released later this spring. But their current course offerings already benefit those looking to enter the commercial drone space.
To fly a drone commercially in the United States, the FAA mandates that you have:
- a Section 333 grant of exemption,
- a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA),
- an aircraft registered with the FAA, and
- a pilot with an FAA airman certificate
(View FAA FAQs re: 333 exemptions here.)
Sporty’s can help. Zimmerman described three types of licenses: private pilot, recreational pilot, and sport pilot. Being licensed as a private pilot is the most popular. However, you can meet the 333 exemption requirement with a sport pilot’s license, which does not require a medical exam and requires only 30 hours of in-flight training (the estimated cost is ~$5000 and takes about 2 weeks if you put in dedicated flight time).
Sporty’s flight preparation course includes practice tests that prepare students for their tests. “It’s a big help, and it’ll also save you tons of flying time,” according to Zimmerman.
Sporty’s “Learn to Fly” course is their most popular and covers all three aforementioned licenses. It is offered online and has a free online demo, so you can try before you buy. You can find it here.