Coastal Drone Operations (AV 102)

Before being allowed into Coastal Drone Operations (AV 102), beginning students must be interviewed by our director, instructors, collaborators and pilots, and then once accepted must complete “Drone Boot Camp” (Introduction to Unmanned Aerial Systems (AV 101)), that requires 50-100 hours of ground school and flight arena training using a trainer drone assigned to each student (below is our indoor flight facility at the Oregon National Guard armory and the Hubsan X4 Spider (far right below)).

In addition, each pilot is required to complete a Red Cross/CPR course. Students are recommended to have 20/40 corrected vision, be physically fit, in academic good-standing, and express a desire to advance in the aviation field of endeavor (expressing advancing levels of work ethic and maturity) to advance to operations. This is the curriculum of AV 101.2:

  • Phantom Flight School School
    • Phantom and Mavic editing school
    • How to tell aerial stories
    • Killer shots & 360 panoramas
    • Stunning aerial videography and photography
    • Start an aerial photography drone business

Once they survive Intro to UAS (about 1/2 do) they move on to Coastal Drone Operations course which introduces students to unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and surveys current UAS platforms and sensors (visible, near infrared and Lidar):


Students then learn terminology, challenges to integrating UAS to the national airspace system and operations under FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) regulations for small unmanned aircraft (Part 107). Field trips are taken to an airport, a flight museum, and a flight service center. Operations students are required to join the AMA to promote professional drone flying activities and activities within the school and community.

I then focus on building and executing drone field operations. The first step is assisting pilots with field efforts including placing ground control points. Then students fly a quad copter

used to create photo mosaics, topographic, vegetation, and 3D aerial maps while following lesson plans in radio communications, performance, physiological factors, decision making, airport operations, maintenance and pre-flight procedures. In addition students experience flying a fixed wing drone over larger areas (below is a sample plan for a flight to map a large seagrass bed (shown in a dark green).

Students test and gain the following areas of proficiency in operations.

  • Ground school (Part 107 and USI Safety)
    • Foundations of unmanned aircraft
    • Robotic aircraft
    • Datalinks
    • Control stations
    • Payloads
    • Applications of unmanned aircraft
    • Elements of UAS applications
    • Professionalism
  • Map Making
    • Drone Deploy
  • Part 107 Test Preparation (Passing not required to pass, but this or USI Safety certification is required to advance to Missions (AV 103))
    • ASA knowledge testing workbook

Published by

Dr. Chuck Getter

Teaching marine biology with drones

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