(ATHENS, GA.) Drones are the flying technology in high demand from coast to coast. Architects, agriculturists, first responders and rescuers are just some of many who are utilizing the use of drones.
Journalists are also adopting small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS) for their work.
Al Tompkins, a senior faculty member at the Poynter Institute, spoke at a drone workshop at the University of Georgia on March 17-18. The National Press Photographers Association, Google News Lab, DJI, and the Drone Journalism Lab at the University of Nebraska joined with Poynter to sponsor the sold-out event that was the first of four workshops being held across the country.
“This is a new frontier,” Tompkins said. “I’m trying to be careful of not telling people to get a drone and start flying. Instead, what I’m trying to say is, if you are going to get a drone, this is how to do it safely, legally and ethically.”
The workshop focused specifically on The Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 107 Drone Pilot’s Certificate, the license for commercial operations that was put into effect late last year. The workshop included instruction on legal landscape for drone regulations, presented by NPPA legal counsel Mickey Osterreicher. Participants also had hands-on training, flying four different kinds of drones in Intramural Field 6 over the course of two days.
Matt Waite, a professor at the University of Nebraska, encourages everyone to register their drone as soon as it is purchased. He said that it costs $5 to register a drone the same as the cost to register any aircraft.
The certification depends on what you are flying and your purpose.
“The FAA divides flight into three categories: Government, which they call civil aircrafts, commercial, and hobbyists,” said Waite. “The rules change depending on who you are.”
Waite has received his drone license and broke down the exam into five sections with a total of 60 questions. Areas include regulations, airspace and requirements, weather, loading and performance, and operations. The multiple-choice exam costs around $130 and can be taken multiple times if you don’t initially pass the test.
Even if you have attended the workshop or plan on attending a future workshop, Waite said not to take the exam without reading the FAA document to study. Waite and Thompkins recommend at least 40 hours of studying in order to pass the exam. It is to everyone’s best interest to have safe drone pilots who are properly trained.
“We are one idiot away from being banned. I am here to eliminate the idiots,” said Waite.
The workshop at UGA was the first of four. The workshop April 21-23 in Syracuse University that is sold out. The workshop in Madison, Wisconsin June 16-1 is halfway sold-out and the last workshop is in Portland, Oregon on August 18-20. Workshop details are available on the Poynter Institute website.