Last Public Drone Pilot Short Class Offered

The unmanned aircraft systems program on the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus in Salina is providing professionals one last opportunity in 2016 to obtain a remote pilot in command certification.

In response to the Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 107 rule instituted in August for commercial use of small UAS, Kansas State Polytechnic has been offering a five-day training course throughout the fall to prepare future unmanned pilots for those requirements. The final UAS commercial pilot training course of the year will take place Monday, Dec. 5, through Friday, Dec. 9, and will focus on FAA guidelines proficiency, flight safety and development of standard operating procedures.

“Under the FAA’s Part 107 mandate, anyone who wants to fly for commercial operations without obtaining a manned certification must demonstrate, through a written test, the ability to safely conduct those operations; however much of the material in the test is complex and covers topics those outside the aviation industry might not understand. We believe in offering a personalized experience to help with that,” said Kurt Carraway, executive director of Kansas State Polytechnic’s UAS program.

During the first three days of the course, participants receive in-class instruction specifically on elements covered in the written FAA exam, such as different classes of airspace, meteorology, UAS performance, loading and center of gravity, and Part 107 itself. On the fourth day, students take the required exam in the campus’s FAA test center. The remaining day and a half is spent conducting flight training on campus in one of the nation’s largest enclosed unmanned flight facilities and creating essential documents for safe operations, like standard operating procedures, a preflight checklist and flight logs. After students successfully complete the FAA exam and the course, they will receive a remote pilot in command, or RPIC, certificate from the FAA.

In a survey taken by participants of the previous training courses, 100 percent of the attendees would recommend the instructional class and say they are extremely confident now in their ability to adhere to FAA regulations pertinent to small UAS. Mark Derome, a technical assistant in a research station for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was a part of the September course and said because of his lack of aeronautical experience, he was daunted by the task of studying on his own.

“The regulations, weather and airport operations as well as the visual flight rules chart interpretation for UAS operations seemed like a lot to absorb,” said Derome. “But during the course, I thoroughly enjoyed the instruction. The teachers were knowledgeable and obviously knew the material. And being in an immersive environment for a week with people sharing the same interest and goal was very helpful.”

The cost of the commercial pilot training course is $1,400 for individuals, with a discounted rate for companies sending multiple attendees. The cost of the FAA exam is an additional charge. More information on the course, including registration and travel arrangements can be found at

Kansas State Polytechnic received the country’s first Section 333 exemption for flight training in November 2015, allowing the UAS program to create and conduct an extensive flight-training program for students and outside entities before the FAA-agreed upon Part 107. Along with the upcoming commercial pilot training course, Kansas State Polytechnic has been providing companies with multirotor flight training; has been offering a UAS multirotor hobbyist course; and has implemented structured flight training curriculum for students in Kansas State Polytechnic’s UAS bachelor’s degree program.

To learn more about Kansas State Polytechnic’s UAS training offerings, including customizable courses, contact the campus’s professional education and outreach department at 785-826-2633 or [email protected]. To inquire about UAS research opportunities, contact Carraway at 785-826-2624 or [email protected].

Story by Julee Cobb / Kansas State University