This is Part 1 of “How to Pass the Part 107 Test.” Look for DRONELIFE’s extensive reference list of free study guides, groups, and resources later this week.
In yesterday’s press conference, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said that over 3,000 people had registered to take the Part 107 test – the Aeronautical Knowledge Test – on the first day that the new rule was effective. Kim Wheeler of 2Drone_Gals, a photography and videography team based in Florida, was the first person to take the exam – and pass it! – at her local testing center. DRONELIFE caught up with Kim yesterday about her experience in taking the Part 107 test, and what she’d recommend to other drone operators.
DL: Given that you are already an experienced drone operator, was the test harder or easier than you expected?
KW: The test was harder than I expected. I had heard that the FAA exams pull from the sample questions published but I did not find that to be the case.
DL: How did you prepare for the test?
KW: I studied part-time (a few hours a day, several days a week) over the past month as I am not one to cram. I began reading the FAA Advisory Circular, AC 107-2, then pertinent sections of the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge. After that I went through Sarah Nilsson’s UAG Test Prep, which is free on-line; I first learned of this through the “Amelia Droneharts” Facebook group. [A Facebook group for women in the drone industry.] Then I watched a YouTube video by Commercial Drones FM, entitled “FAA Part 107 Test Prep” which went over all 35 questions on the FAA online training course/exam for existing pilots. As a final review this past week, I read the FAA Remote Pilot – sUAS Study Guide, dated August 2016.
DL: Was there anything that surprised you about the test?
KW: I was surprised that most of the questions were not ones I’d seen before from the 40 sample UAG exam questions or the Part 107 sUAS online training course/exam for existing pilots. Some were similar, but only a few were identical. The majority of the test was flight ground school, which the test proctor said is pulled from a bank of over 900 possible questions; the emphasis was on airspace classification and airport operations. I was expecting more Part 107 drone operation questions since I am being certified to fly a drone not an aircraft.
DL: What advice would you give other people taking the test?
KW: There are plenty of free study resources out there if you have the discipline to create your own study schedule and stick to it. If you have a pilot’s background, then the FAA Remote Pilot – sUAS Study Guide is a good refresher. The FAA online training course/exam for existing pilots is pretty straightforward if you’ve studied the Part 107 Advisory Circular, AC 107-2. If you do not have a pilot’s background like me, then you should devote more time to familiarizing yourself with the ground school topics especially the Aeronautical Charts and Airport Classifications. In either case, a costly study course is not necessary in my opinion.
*DL Note: See “How to Pass the Part 107 Test, Part 2” later this week for an extensive list of study guides, groups, and resources.
DL: Any other thoughts about the Part 107 test?
KW: Our national airspace is very complex and heavily regulated. It is obvious from this exam that the FAA wants drone pilots to know exactly what they might encounter in the skies when launching their drone in order to fly safely and responsibly. This certification has helped me appreciate that and will enable me to move forward with confidence anywhere I may be asked to fly.
You can see some of the 2Drone_Gals phenomenal work on Instagram or Facebook; or catch up with Kim and Makayla in a few weeks when they’ll be appearing at the InterDrone Conference in Las Vegas.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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