"Stop Being a Wimp and Take Your FAA Part 107 Test"
This is what I had to tell myself. I needed to take this test for my job as a photographer. I was scared out of my mind.
“What? I didn’t know you needed to be certified to fly a drone commercially?”
Seriously? Don’t play dumb. You do know. Everyone with internet access knows. And the FAA doesn’t play games. Have you seen the $200,000 civil fine that the Chicago-based business SkyPane has to pay? No? You can read about it here: https://petapixel.com/2017/01/18/drone-operator-will-pay-200000-fine-violating-faa-regulations/
Let’s think about this logically… $200,000 fine or $150 test? Hmmmmm… should be an easy decision.
I can completely relate to your concerns. Before starting this crazy journey, I had never seen a sectional chart. TAF reports meant nothing to me. Hyperventilation was the only thing that sounded familiar - but what did that have to do with flying?
The FAA Part 107 Test is made up of a bunch of crazy stuff. Some of it is completely relevant to drone flying. The rest is to help you appreciate the complexity and historical value of the FAA and the tools involved with a successful flight.
Want to know how I passed? I’ll tell you…
1. The test is Pass or Fail… your grade doesn’t matter.
I scored a 92%. I scored a 88%. I scored a 97%.
Blah, blah, blah.
Even the “drone experts” teaching the study courses didn’t score 100% on their tests. The test is a mashed-up mess of randomness. You’ll be asked basic questions about drone laws. Questions about sectional charts. Questions about air traffic laws at an airport (even though you can’t fly at an airport). And random questions that aren’t on any study guides. But again, the point isn’t to get an A+. All you need to do is pass.
2. Don’t memorize the sectional charts. They give you the map legend.
I heard this a few times during my studying, but I was still paranoid. They really do give you a map legend. The testing center will give you an entire book filled with charts and the map legend. You just need to know how to read it. Easy.
Map Via SkyVector (https://skyvector.com/?ll=44.258083333,-88.519083333&chart=301&zoom=3)
3. What did I use to study?
Everyone wants to sell you their secrets. You can pay a company upwards of $400 to guarantee you pass the test. One program I purchased online was very confusing and a waste of money. There are TONS of programs to choose from - but I found these the most helpful and cost effective!
I used the online video study by Tony Northrup. It’s long. But watch it. Take a day off, and watch it again. Then repeat. And repeat. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_ucCKFJUCU
I also downloaded the Remote Pilot App from the app store (around $5). Their study questions and practice test is set up very closely to the real test. They don’t give you a map legend to use, but you can print one out to study with. This is the link to the app: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/prepware-remote-pilot/id1135991142?mt=8
All said and done, here’s what I wish I would have studied/memorized…
1. TAF/METAR Reports
The test booklet does not give you the abbreviations for the codes or a legend to decipher the reports. I wish I would have spent more time memorizing the layout of the reports. Being able to quickly find the correct time and knowing the basic codes for forecast conditions would have been helpful.
2. Airspace Classifications
The airspace charts were not included during the test (the book with the map legend and charts). Study it. Cram the information before you walk in the testing center. As soon as you sit down for the test - draw it out on the paper provided. Knowing the airspace classifications would have helped me on a few questions.
Chart via FAA: https://www.faasafety.gov/gslac/ALC/course_content.aspx?cID=42&sID=505&preview=true
3. No really, that’s it.
No test is identical. There are 250+ sample questions to study for. Do what you can to study and stop stressing… The goal is to pass.
In case you're still freaking out, I'll leave you with this:
Do what you can to study. Don't freak out. You've got this.