Drone (UAV/UAS) Operator Certificate

Drone (UAV/UAS) Operator Certificate

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.

All students completing the UNH Drone Operator workshop will receive a certificate of course completion, and a UNH Drone Academy hat. Students who sign up for the four-day UNH Drone Operator workshop also have the option of requesting UNH Drone Academy certification after meeting the following requirements:

  • FAA Part 107 Certification

  • UNH’s four-day Drone Operator workshop

  • One of UNH’s two-day drone workshops in the following content areas: (1) emergency response, (2) GIS/engineering/agriculture, or (3) photography

  • A proficiency test demonstrating operational skill (no-cost option administered at the end of the Drone Operator workshop)

Students completing these requirements will receive the UNH Drone Operator course completion and a transcript detailing skills learned. In addition, students seeking the UNH Drone Academy certification will receive a certificate of completion signed by UNH and the New Hampshire Department of Transportation and a UNH Drone Academy pin. There is no additional charge for students seeking the UNH Drone Academy certification.

Students do not need to bring their own UAS to this course. Several different UAS platforms will be available to students for hands-on exercises. The age requirement for this program is 15. Please note that this course caps at 24 students to allow for a low flight assistant to student ratio.

For kids and teens interested in drones, science, technology, flight, racing, math, robotics, engineering, business, photography, videography, aerial mapping, and entrepreneurship - Check out our Drobots Drone STEM Camps.

What You Will Learn


Drone (UAV/UAS) Operator Certificate

Day 1 – Introductions, Regulations & Unmanned Aviation Systems (UAS) Operating Systems
Instructor: NH DOT Speaker
Location: Browne Center

8:30-9:00         Registration
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

11:45-12:15     Lunch

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

2:30-2:45         Break

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

8:30-8:45         Check-in/Breakfast
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
10:00-10:15     Break

10:15-11:30     Flight Scenario 1

  • Power-on passwords (instructors set up devices and demo)
  • Pre-flight checklist
  • Review roles
  • (Beginner mode) Taking off/landing
  • Joystick control (pitch, yaw) – take off, forward/backward, left/right
  • Altitude – go to maximum height and use camera when hovering at maximum height
  • (For Spark) – switch to Sport Mode and repeat movements
  • Return to home with low battery (accept RTO)
    • Repeat, but abort RTO and land manually

11:30-12:30     Lunch (Mini drone competition)

12:30-2:00      Flight Scenario 2

  • Pre-flight checklist
  • Students power on UAS and connect components
  • Circle at 30 feet, 75 feet, 100 feet
  • Fly to maximum altitude and use DJI app compass to move 100 feet in 3 different directions; drop back under 150 feet for additional exercises
  • Low altitude figure 8
  • Square at 50 feet, 150 feet
  • Gimble manipulation: Find 2 colored circles (instructor will let you know). Relay the number on the 2 colored circles
  • Switch to sport mode and repeat exercises

2:00-3:30         Flight Scenario 3

  • Exercise 1: Close fly over of box with info that needs to be identified--gimble control
  • Exercise 2: Accident Scavenger Hunt (crowded airspace exercise)
    • Non-sport mode
    • Each team of 4-6 flies 2 drones towards a staged accident. Information visible in different parts of accident. Students rely on their assistant and safety guide to manage airspace safely. Use of gimble and fine-tuned joystick movement help with identification of objects and text/numbers on objects.
    • Team that identifies the most objects/information after burning three batteries wins.
    • Prize for winning team. 


  • Debrief after flight time

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 to the right moves the quadcopter to the right (roll)
  •  Pushing the right stick forward moves the quadcopter forward (pitch)
  • 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
11:30-12:00    Lunch
12:00-1:30      Flight scenarios

1:30-1:45         Break
1:45-2:30         Advanced optics and payload capabilities (FLIR, etc.); demo drone deploy
2:30-4:00         Flight scenarios

4:00-4:30         Debrief                      

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


  • Fly to 3 different locations 50-100 feet off the ground and mark 5 waypoints. Return to home and fly the same path using your marked waypoints.
  • Mark waypoint above 3 colored circles on one flight at 3 feet above each circle. Return to home and fly using the waypoints. Use the camera/gimble to record the flight when over the colored circles.
  • Can they fly to a specific area using GPS coordinates? Any other creative way to use waypoints? 

Landing at a Distance

  • Use the colored circles or folding landing pads to land at a distance. Take off from the remote landing pad and return to home.

 Accident Assessment & Eye in the Sky (camera control)

  • Stage an accident in several parts of the field with a few dummies. Record the location of each dummy and find the ingress point to rescue them (mark with a circle or some other creative way). The thought is to help them assess a crash site.
    Record accident area (using our guidelines) and then download footage to laptop to review and made additional decisions.

 Drone Bingo

  • Each team locates 12 numbers and identifies the color of each number. First team to find all 12 numbers and communicate which number matches with each color wins.

 Station with a Mavic or Phantom 3 (4 units)

  • Group connects Goggles to Mavic and tests
  • Group records video of crash site using Mavic. One observer, one camera person using the Goggles and one pilot. Download the video later and evaluate quality of video, angles, distance, etc.
  • Record shots of class using Mavic. Determine where best locations are to shoot, appropriate elevations, how to protect students, panning, etc.

Day 4 – Program Setup, Advanced Flight Skills and UAS Applications

1 day, 4 hours classroom and 4 hours flight time

8:30-9:00              Overview
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
11:30-12:00         Lunch

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)

Instructor Bios


Drone (UAV/UAS) Operator Certificate

  • 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.

09:00am - 03:30pm
09:00am - 03:30pm
09:00am - 03:30pm
09:00am - 03:30pm
Browne Center
James Cloutier
USNH Tuition Waiver Discount
PDT - 10% Alumni Discount