Students do not need to bring their own UAS to this course. Several different UAS platforms will be made available to students for hands-on exercises. Please note that this course caps at 24 students to allow for a low flight assistant to student ratio.
Offered in partnership with the NH Department of Transportation, this program is designed for current or future UAS pilots based in New England. Familiarize yourself with UAS equipment and safety protocol while learning more about how UAS technology is being used in different contexts. After completing this program, deep dive into these content areas by signing up for one of our content-specific 2-day workshops focused on emergency response, GIS/engineering and photography. This four-day Drone Operator program focuses primarily on hands-on flight activities that are appropriate for the beginner or intermediate drone pilot. Approximately half of the class time will focus on outdoor flight exercises that introduce students to progressively more difficult navigational tasks and scenarios. This four-day program is unique in that flight time will always occur in a small group of 2 to 3 students with one dedicated flight instructor. This allows each student to remain highly engaged with field-based activities as they rotate through each role: pilot, flight assistant or safety guide.
Drawing on recent case studies and knowledge gleaned from the NH DOT and FAA, our instructors will focus on operational laws, airspace, insurance, equipment, system operation, flight roles, role coordination and many other topics. The UNH Drone Operator workshop and follow up courses provide the highest quality experience for the most affordable price. Case in point: Our largest competitor charges $580 for a one-day operator workshop compared to our $1250 four-day program. Perhaps most importantly, UNH’s programs prioritize flight time, support from Part 107-certified flight instructors and frequent interaction with regional UAS experts who are familiar with the nuances of UAS operation in New England. See our program agenda, student testimonies and FAQ section for more details.
Students completing the UNH Drone Operator workshops will receive a certificate of course completion.
Students seeking more rigor and content-specific training can request UNH Drone Academy certification after meeting the following requirements:
Day 1 – Introductions, Regulations & Unmanned Aviation Systems (UAS) Operating Systems
Instructor: Rita Hunt
Location: Browne Center
9:00-9:30 Introductions and review of course schedule; review Part 107 test prep resources
9:30-9:45 Review pre-workshop exam and student input form (what are students looking for with class?)
9:45-11:30 Pilot Operating Handbook (POH); documenting flight plans, maintenance considerations, logs
11:30-11:45 Risk, liability and insurance, commercial versus recreational
12:15-1:30 Flight training 101; review of aeronautical principles in relation to UAS
1:30-2:30 What is a flight plan? What’s needed for flight plan (check list, dependencies); Prepping for flight and airspace permissions, licensing, permits and working with the state, FAA UAS rules and regulations
2:45-4:30 Review of operational flight book for class (at Browne Center); review maps, roles, pre-flight checklist details, safety protocol, managing equipment, flight etiquette (use of radios/communication), equipment overview, end-of-course assessment for certificate students
Day 2 – UAS Equipment & Basic Flight Training
Instructor: Jim Cloutier
Location: Browne Center
8:45-9:30 Review of DJI dashboard and most important factors when flying; review roles, flight locations, assign students to teams/locations
9:30-10:00 Walk students through flight scenario 1; release to their group
10:15-11:30 Flight Scenario 1
11:30-12:30 Lunch (Mini drone competition)
12:30-2:00 Flight Scenario 2
2:00-3:30 Flight Scenario 3
Concepts and Terminology
Roll – Done by pushing the right stick to the left or right.
Pitch – Done by pushing the right stick forwards or backwards. Tilts the quadcopter, which maneuvers the quadcopter forwards or backwards.
Yaw – Done by pushing the left stick to the left or to the right. Rotates the quadcopter left or right. Points the front of the copter different directions and helps with changing directions while flying.
Throttle – To increase, push the left stick forwards. To decrease, pull the left stick backwards. This adjusts the altitude, or height, of the quadcopter.
Pushing the right stick backward moves the quadcopter backward (pitch)
Day 3 – Regulations, UAS Software, Cameras, Weather & Decision Making
Instructor: Jim Cloutier
Location: Browne Center
8:30-9:00 Breakfast, welcome, Overview of the day
9:00-9:15 Review pre-flight checklist, review kit content, flight etiquette, ground rules and flight scenarios
9:15-10:30 Review DJI App; Overview of Drone Deploy, Autopilot, Pix4D, Airmap, DJI App, Quacopter FX Simulator, DJI Ground Station
10:30-10:45 Weather considerations and decision making
10:45-11:30 Photography (techniques, tools, 2nd person controlling camera); show examples
12:00-1:30 Flight scenarios
1:45-2:30 Advanced optics and payload capabilities (FLIR, etc.); demo drone deploy
2:30-4:00 Flight scenarios
Note: The DJI Store app mainly exists to sell you stuff, but it also has another useful feature: a map of flying hotspots. This helps you find who is flying in your neighborhood by letting you know of any user-submitted flying spots in your neighborhood, and the profiles of the people who fly there. You can also post a profile yourself and share any inspiring photos of popular spots with other fliers.
Day 3 Flight Exercises
1. (Before touching equipment) Review pre-flight checklist and safety procedures; review space and no-fly zones in area. Review the 30% battery return to home rule. Review battery management rules (use boxes)
2. Pre-flight checklist (checks, GPS connection, kill engine); setting up your flight area (cones, space, using B4UFly/Airmap, checking dashboard stats)
3. Go/no go decisions (workflow)
4. Lifting off – let hover for 20 seconds to check for any issues
Landing at a Distance
Accident Assessment & Eye in the Sky (camera control)
Station with a Mavic or Phantom 3 (4 units)
Day 4 – Program Setup, Advanced Flight Skills and UAS Applications
1 day, 4 hours classroom and 4 hours flight time
9:00-10:00 Equipment, capital expense, management of UAS resources; case studies and resources for creating or adapting a UAS program
10:00-11:30 Discuss relevance of UAS to different areas: engineering, GIS, emergency response, photography, real estate, new career opportunities
12:00-2:00 Flight scenarios (advanced)
2:00-4:00 Track 1: Flight assessments (for certification)
2:00-4:00 Track 2: Flight scenarios (advanced)
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.
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.