Alabama is a phenomenal place to fly a drone. The state features Lake Purdy, Lost Sink Falls, Railroad Park, Limestone Bay, and many other beloved spots for memorable, fun flights.
However, you need a license before you can legally launch a drone.
How to get a drone license in Alabama?
Here’s how to get a drone license in Alabama:
- Meet eligibility guidelines
- Register for your FAA Tracking Number
- Sign up for the Part 107 exam
- Study for the exam
- Take the exam and pass
- Apply for and receive your license
This beginner’s guide will explain all the steps required to earn your drone license in Alabama, including resources along the way to make it easier to realize your dream of flying a drone!
Here’s how to obtain a drone license in Alabama
The FAA dictates drone laws in the United States. Under the organization’s requirements, all drone pilots must have a license.
Commercial drone pilots can obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate by passing the Part 107 exam, and recreational pilots can get their TRUST certificate by successfully completing the TRUST exam.
This guide will focus on the commercial aspects of drone licensure. Without further ado, let’s jump into the steps.
Meet the eligibility guidelines
Becoming a registered, licensed drone pilot through the FAA starts with meeting the organization’s eligibility criteria.
You must be 16 or older to take the Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG) exam, better known as the Part 107 or commercial drone pilot exam.
Further, you must be deemed mentally and physically proficient to use a drone. You must also have a perfect comprehension of the English language, understanding, writing, speaking, and reading it.
English does not have to be your first language to take the FAA exam!
Sign up for an FAA Tracking Number
Once you’ve determined you meet the above criteria, you can move on to the next step, getting an FAA Tracking Number, referred to herein as an FTN.
You’ll need an Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application or IACRA profile to do this.
Visit the IACRA website here. You’ll see an area to input your username and password and underneath that, a link that says Register. Click that link.
You’ll have to check off some boxes, such as for instructors and certifying officers, and agree to the FAA’s terms of service.
You’re then brought to another page where you must input your Airman Certificate Number and when it was issued, your full name, and your email address.
You can also set up your username, password, and security questions here.
You’ll need your IACRA login later after you take the Part 107 exam, so make sure you keep your username and password information handy.
Once you complete these steps, you can request your FTN on the IACRA website.
Schedule your Part 107 exam
Now that your IACRA profile is active and you have your FTN, you’re ready to move on to the next part of the process, registering for the Part 107 exam.
This exam is an in-person test taken at a brick-and-mortar building, in this case, a Knowledge Testing Center. The FAA approves all Knowledge Testing Centers, which are scattered across the country.
The FAA now uses a platform called PSI to connect you to a Knowledge Testing Center and for test registration.
You’ll have to create an account with PSI if you don’t already have one. You can get started by clicking here.
Once you’ve created your account, you should see available testing dates and locations.
Select the Knowledge Testing Center most convenient for you, and carefully choose a date based on your availability. There’s no need to rush and take the test tomorrow!
Make sure you have a government-issued form of photo identification, as you’ll need it to take the Part 107 exam.
Study for the exam
You’ve officially registered for your upcoming Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG) exam. Hopefully, you gave yourself at least several weeks to prepare.
The Part 107 exam will challenge you in all areas of what it takes to be a drone pilot.
The FAA puts together the test material and leaves no stone unturned, covering everything from radio communication procedures to drone performance and loading, regulations, and operating requirements.
The questions on the test frequently change to reflect the current landscape of drones and updated FAA rules.
It behooves you to pass the first time, as it costs $175 (as of this writing) each time you take the FAA exam. Studying will prepare you for the questions on the exam so you’re not caught off-guard.
We put together a list of training resources for drone pilots. The resources include paid online schools, bootcamps, and courses aspiring pilots can take to prepare for the Part 107 exam.
Many of these courses include money-back guarantees that if you don’t pass the test the first time, you’ll receive a full refund and the $175 you spent so you can use it for your next test attempt.
You’ll very often have the study materials for life, you can digest them across short lessons, and you can take practice exams with real FAA questions.
Take the Part 107 exam and pass
Your testing date has finally arrived. We recommend waking up early, having a nutritious, filling meal (even though you’ll be nervous), and brushing up on your study materials.
Hopefully, you got a good night’s sleep before, as that will help you stay focused when you take the test.
Leave early so you can arrive at the testing center on time. Remember, you need a photo ID like a driver’s license, so make sure you have that.
You’ll receive all the testing materials you need when you arrive and the test itself. You’re given two and a half hours to complete the test, which is 60 multiple-choice questions in all.
Take your time, as you should have plenty of it to answer the questions. If you complete the exam with time to spare, go over the questions again and change any answers you wish.
When test time ends, hand in your test and go home.
You’ll then have to play the waiting game, as it takes upward of three weeks for your test results to be ready. When they are, they’ll be posted to PSI.
You must answer 70 percent of the questions correctly to pass, which means getting up to 18 incorrect answers.
If you pass, you can proceed to the next step. However, if you fail, it’s not the end of the world.
You can still become a drone pilot; you just have to go through the above steps again, including paying the testing fee.
If you didn’t utilize one of the recommended Part 107 prep courses from before, we highly recommend you do this next time around.
FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Test Prep
Peltier has quite the experience, making him qualified to teach about photography and drones in separate courses. He was a part of the U.S. Air Force as an F-15E flight instructor for a decade.
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Apply for your drone license
Remember that IACRA profile you created? Now it’s time to use it, as you must complete Form 8710-13.
After logging into the IACRA website, select the option Start New Application. Choose Pilot for your application type.
Next, navigate to Certifications “Remote Pilot,” Other Path Information, and Start Application. Go through the prompts.
You’ll have to input your Knowledge Test Exam ID, a 17-digit unique string of numbers you receive when you take the Part 107 exam.
You can find this information on the IACRA portal within 48 or more hours after taking the Part 107 exam.
The last step of the form is to electronically sign it. IACRA will process your application.
You don’t instantly receive your license, as your profile will next go to the TSA, who will perform a background check.
If you pass that, you’ll receive an email with a temporary IACRA remote pilot certificate. This certificate acts as a stand-in for a true drone license.
However, you won’t receive that license until the FAA can complete its internal processing.
I have my commercial drone license in Alabama – Now what?
You did it – you successfully applied for and received a drone license in Alabama.
So what should you do now? We recommend celebrating your accomplishment!
You’re now free to fly your drone within the parameters of the FAA’s rules. Those rules apply federally, but state and local laws and ordinances throughout the US dictate how and where you can use your drone.
We recommend brushing up on Alabama’s state and local drone laws with this handy guide.
A Remote Pilot Certificate doesn’t last forever. Your license will expire two years from when it’s issued to you.
Although the exam is free, you must answer all questions correctly to renew your license.
However, this isn’t as difficult as it sounds, considering you can see your wrong answers as you take the test and change them at any time before submitting it.