Man flying drone

Drone (UAS) Operator Certification for Public Safety, Emergency Response & Disaster Management

This certificate program offers hands-on flight instruction that draws on the basic skills and flight proficiencies required to safely operate unmanned aerial vehicles. While flight instruction is a key area of focus, this certificate is not a Part 107 preparation class. 

In addition to operational proficiency, participants will gain a more thorough understanding of UAS regulations, policies, airspace considerations and licensing requirements. At the end of the workshop, students will be more equipped to fly UAS safely and with a deeper understanding of how UAS can be used in public for emergency response. This 5-day certification is offered over a five-week period--see scheduled dates for each specific section.

Students do not need to bring their own UAV to this course. Several different UAV models will be available for students during hands-on exercises and demonstrations.

*Created in partnership with NH Department of Transportation

What You Will Learn


Drone (UAS) Operator Certification for Public Safety, Emergency Response & Disaster Management


Students will learn about the following topics:

  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations and requirements that govern, and define, safe and lawful UAS operations within the United States
  • Hands-on experience operating UAVs with particular focus on managing UAS emergencies, first response scenarios, surveying geography, remote sensing, photography, and GIS
  • Information about regional regulatory bodies who govern UAS permissions and permits.
  • Resources that help students prepare for the Part 107 Remote Pilot License test
  • Setting up an effective UAS program in a public or private domain
  • Creating flight plans and using pre-flight checklists
  • Procuring and managing UAS components
  • Federal and state laws pertaining to privacy laws as well as civil rights and civil liberties associated with data gathering and data management


The course will consist of lectures, labs and student unmanned aircraft flight operations.

Day 1 – Introductions, Regulations & Unmanned Aviation Systems (UAS) Operating Systems

8 hours lecture/discussion

  • Pilot Operating Handbook (POH); documenting flight plans, maintenance, logs
  • Identify 3-4 case uses to help instantiate principles discussed in workshop
  • Licensing, permits and working with NH DOT/FAA
  • Overview of different UAV careers and applications
  • Risk, liability and insurance
  • UAS as a remote sensing platform; overview of available sensors
  • Discussion of UAS data and uses
  • Matching the right airframe and sensors to the data needs
  • Fundamentals of map and chart reading
  • Basic spectral image classification
  • Pre-workshop exam and student input form (what are students looking for with class?)

Day 2 – UAS Components & Systems

4 hours classroom and 4 hours flight time

  • Flight training 101; review of aeronautical principles in relation to UAS
  • Roles and responsibilities. (PIC, VO, etc.)
  • What’s needed for flight plan (check list, dependencies)?
  • Prepping for flight and airspace permissions

Day 3 – Regulations, Weather & Decision Making

4 hours classroom and 4 hours flight time

  • FAA UAS rules and regulations
  • FAA defined airspace and weather interpretations and definitions.
  • FAA Part 107 – Licensing discussion and preparation to take the FAA Part 107 examination
  • Determining needed weather accommodations and limitations
  • Managing complex flights

Day 4 – Program Setup

4 hours classroom and 4 hours flight time

  • Common UAS stakeholders
  • Legal requirements
  • Equipment, capital expense, management of resources
  • Case studies and resources for creating or adapting a UAS program
  • 2 hours of fixed-wing demo by JBI and/or Air Shark. Demonstrate image processing of the data collected during the flights, talk about overlap, ground control points,

Day 5 – Summary/Review

 8 hours classroom time

  • Summarize key concepts
  • Setting up sUAS program (in-house)
  • Review student flight plans with focus on peer-to-peer input
  • Post course evaluation and exam

Instructor Bios


Drone (UAS) Operator Certification for Public Safety, Emergency Response & Disaster Management

  • David Kovar

    David Kovar

    David Kovar has been active in search and rescue since 1995 when he joined CalESAR, one of California’s few independent search and rescue teams. He participated in SAR missions all over California in ground, swift water, and high angle rescue roles. He also participated in SAR management on a wide variety of searches, including HRD canine, wilderness, and abducted children. While in California he helped found and manage 1SRG, an international response, all volunteer SAR organization. With 1SRG he deployed to Mexico, Fiji, Australia and Tajikistan and managed deployments to Peru and Japan. In Illinois he volunteered with Tazewell County Emergency Management Agency where he participated in SAR, storm spotting, and damage assessment. He ran the county EOC for ten days after a tornado struck Washington, IL in 2013.

    Mr. Kovar is now a volunteer New England K9 SAR as their communications officer.

    Mr. Kovar is well versed in ICS, has attended Inland SAR School twice, and instructed for Illinois Search and Rescue Council. He learned tracking from Joel Hardin, Rescue Systems 1 from Dallas Fire Department, and Swift water and Animal Rescue from Rescue 3 to name a few of his certifications.

    On the UAV side, Mr. Kovar founded the practice of UAV forensics, consults on cybersecurity and computer forensics, operates a commercial UAV firm in New England, and works with a variety of SAR organizations on integrating UAVs into search & rescue and disaster response operations. He is also a rated pilot (single engine land and rotorcraft), sUAS pilot (fixed wing and quad copter) and ham radio operator.


    Mr. Kovar is the Advocacy Director for NASAR and has written UAV policy papers for the FAA, developed and given presentations on UAVs in SAR for various audiences, and is working on SAR UAV standards for ASTM.

  • Rita Hunt

    Rita Castonguay

    Rita Castonguay Hunt is an Aviation Planner for the NH Department of Transportation’s Aeronautics Bureau and specializes in both manned and unmanned aviation operations, standardization, procedures, and safety.

    Rita is responsible for aviation related project planning, airport development, and improving the overall safety of aviation in the state.  Rita is an FAA-certified airport safety inspector and inspects 23 public-use airports annually; responds to aviation related accidents as a subject matter expert on behalf of the State Police; and acts as state liaison to both the FAA and NTSB. 

    Rita is the NHDOT’s subject matter expert on UAS and UAS regulations.  She is an instructor for FEMA teaching the Unmanned Aircraft Systems in Disaster Management (AWR-345) course.  She was selected to join the USDOT Remote Sensing Adoption Working Group; is currently leading a research project with the University of Vermont Spatial Orientation Lab to determine ways to integrate UAS use into upcoming NHDOT projects; and is assisting other state agencies in creating their own UAS programs.  

    Rita graduated from Daniel Webster College with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Aviation Flight Operations and a Master's in Business Administration.  She is a certificated commercial pilot and flight instructor (fixed-wing, single and multi-engine, instrument rated), as well as, certificated remote pilot.  

  • Jim Cloutier

    Jim Cloutier is the President of Red Dog Aerial Media a UAS service provider that specializes in training and consulting for companies interested in starting UAS programs in house. Red Dog Aerial also offers aerial photography, videography, infrastructure inspection and mapping services for engineering, construction, commercial real estate and insurance companies. Jim has over 10 years building, designing and flying UAS platforms and holds his FAA Remote Pilot Certification.

    Jim graduated from Northeastern University with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Electrical Engineering Technology. His electrical engineering career in the manufacturing industry included electrical design and programing for brewing and packaging systems, project management, information technology infrastructure design and deployment, software and hardware lifecycle analysis and technical training.  Jim is currently the Information Technology Manager at Anheuser-Busch in Merrimack, NH.

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