“I fly drones for fun. Do I need a Part 107 drone license to fly for recreational purposes?”
While you don’t need a Part 107 drone license, you do need to pass a different test, called TRUST, in order to fly drones recreationally. The Part 107 drone license test is admittedly quite challenging, and will require loads of studying and taking an exam in person.
Luckily, the steps to fly drones recreationally are much simpler. You simply must take an online course, which takes about 30 minutes to an hour to complete. At the end, there’s an online quiz that you must pass. The test is called TRUST, and it can be taken online for free via one of the FAA-approved partner organizations (there are 16 to start). Those range everywhere from existing online Part 107 course providers to The Boy Scouts of America. See the full list of TRUST administrators here.
Learn more about the FAA recreational drone test.
The rules of whether or not you need a license to fly your drone often seem like they change every few months. (Seriously, sometimes they do!) But the latest is that, as of June 2021, the FAA made it a requirement that all operators of drones must either have a Part 107 certificate if flying commercially, or have passed the TRUST if flying recreationally.
(The Part 107 drone license is in reference to the “Remote Pilot Certificate with a small UAS rating) that all commercial drone operators must attain before operating drones for business purposes. To get the certificate, you must pass a written test, as required under the Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 107.) The TRUST must be taken by anyone flying under Section 44809, which is those who are recreationally flying drones (so you aren’t flying for commercial purposes or otherwise making money off your flight).
In addition, there are other rules you need to follow to fly drones recreationally:
- Register your drone: Register on the official FAA website here. Then mark your drone registration number on the outside of the aircraft, and carry proof of registration with you.
- Fly your drone at or below 400 feet in uncontrolled or “Class G” airspace. Do NOT fly in controlled airspace (this is areas such as near Washington DC and near many airports) or other airspace where drone flight is prohibited, such as areas with temporary flight restrictions. Not sure whether you’re in controlled or uncontrolled airspace? This map can tell you.
- Keep your drone within your line of sight, or within the visual line-of-sight of your visual observer.
- Never fly near other aircraft, over groups of people or public events, or near emergencies such as accident response scenes, law enforcement activities, firefighting, or natural disaster recovery efforts.
- Never fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
That said, if you have the time, it’s absolutely worth studying for and taking the test to earning your full Remote Pilot Certificate. Check out this guide running through everything you need to know when taking the Part 107 test, or read through my personal account of taking the test!