Like It or Not, Drone Licensing Is Coming


By Stephen Mann

What an outrageous proposal. How dare you propose drone hobbyists be licensed before they start flying?

This is the only way to save the hobby of personal drone flight. It’s the only way to protect the hobby from overreaching, confusing, conflicting and almost always illegal attempts by the government to regulate flight.

Licensing is going to happen. Just look at all the hysteria that surrounds every drone sighting. No sensation-seeking journalist or politician can pass that opportunity for grandstanding. This is why we should get ahead of them and propose reasonable licensing now before the politicians force very unreasonable licensing terms on us.

Ham radio is a good example of how this can work. Amateur Radio operators have been operating in an environment regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for decades using volunteer examiners (VE) to administer the tests for various Amateur Radio classes of licenses. 

The VE forwards the test materials to the FCC and, if the applicant passes, they receive their Amateur Radio license. VEs usually are members of ham radio clubs who also provide classes in radio theory and FCC rules. The FCC does not collect any fees for the Amateur Radio license, but the VE may charge a small fee for preparing and administering the test.

Read more here:

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of diydrones to add comments!

Join diydrones


  • You're right. I do think the gun laws are fine, in fact there are too many. Unfortunately, politicians would rather hide behind their desk and write more useless laws rather than deal with the criminals who don't care about their laws.  The problem isn't the laws.  The problem is the lawless people who don't care about the laws.  And those people are coddled by politicians and the media while they go about robbing and killing.  New laws to be ignored don't change anything.  It's not different with drones.

    I'm the first one to explain how the hobby grew faster than anyone has been able to keep up with. And obviously something needs to be done to help the average consumer understand what they're getting into. Writing new laws that overlap existing laws isn't going to do it. That is nothing more than political blabber and inaction like it is with any other issue.

    I'm not angry.  I'm annoyed.  I'm annoyed by your insistence that removing the rights and freedoms from good law abiding people a little more each day will somehow effect people who don't actually give a crap about law and order.  It does indeed lead me to believe you've never left your mother's basement if you actually think these things.  I'm sorry if my tone offends you. Leaving your basement would also help you develop thicker skin :)

  • Pedals, not sure why you're so angry. I have no idea what the solution is. If I did, I wouldn't be posting in a forum. I'm sure you think the gun laws in this country are just fine and dandy, too. Nothing could be done there to tighten things up. It sucks that a few bad eggs are creating a bad image for drone hobbyists who fly responsibly. But people like yourself don't help the situation either. Arrogant, long-time drone flyers who can't admit the industry's facing growing pains. But you're right, if I got out of my mom's basement more often maybe I wouldn't be so oblivious to the world.

  • What about having to register the drone to buy it or activate it? Can't buy or fly otherwise. Don't tell me that's not possible. Now for the DIYers out there, that's a different ballgame.

    That's even more impossible than the other impractical non-sense you've been suggesting. Registration to purchase??  So you think the thousands of different online retailers and hundreds of manufacturers operating out of numerous different countries (some of which are our adversaries) are going to just magically cooperate and use a non-existent system to verify you're a registered and trained purchaser??  Do you actually think that is feasible? If you legitimately think that is the solution, you literally have no clue how life outside the 4 walls of your home works.  The government doesn't have that authority, and even if they did, it is completely impractical to implement.

  • OK, just got back from a forum in Seattle on this very issue. First off, how dare they? That one is easy, from the "surface" up to 80,000 the FAA controls the air, period. It is law. Second, the number of reported near misses with aircraft tripled from the year before, not good. They announced last week that regulation, enforcement and penalties are ALL coming and I would say by next year. The reason for this is obvious, too many people flying over 400 AGL. That was the first rule that was put on radio control anything and it happened a long time ago. Theory is that since aircraft must be 500 AGL or better unless landing or departing, The 2 should never meet, that also explains the 5 mile circle around ANY airport. That is where they can fly under 500. It looks like to be able to fly under the revised regs you will probably be required to take some sort of test, probably on line showing mainly that you understand the rules of engagement. This is tentative. We got the first COA from the FAA by going to DC and getting the FAA to move off dead center, not easy. That certificate allows us to charge for flying. Commercial in other words. The requirements are pretty steep however including insurance and a pilots license and a medical. Not to mention a "N" number for my UAS. The license once again is not because it is necessary, but because they want to make dang sure you understand the FAR's. Right now, anyone can buy the parts and build a UAS. Most of the electronics are made in China, it will be interesting to see how they try and control that. They have decided that FPV is line of sight, good and bad. It comes down to no requirements to just haul off and fly. The violations of the Federal Air Regs are all over you tube. None of these people came up through the AMA or anything else, they just think it is neat, and it is, but it requires a modicum of common sense and knowledge of the rules. All of this has been worked out over the last 55 years and some of it even before that. There has always been rules to fly, since the war anyway, and they have been agreed on for a long time. It would be a start to put the regs in kits and built UAS's. There aren't that many regs. DJI and some of the other bigs could go along ways toward this but why? They don't give a hoot about our laws. Regulation is coming and all of the folks that refuse to fly responsibly are why. They brought this on us, not the government. We don't own or control the air, we have no rights to fly as we please. You must yield no matter what to other aircraft, and that 400 Above Ground Level is not a suggestion. The other one that seems to get slammed is flying over densely populated areas, get a section chart and look where they are. There are also restricted airspace and military airspace that needs to be looked at. Again, a sectional chart will show where they are, may save you a lot of grief. Accidently fly over the sub base at Bangor and see what happens. Just what we don't want. The point is, know the rules and follow them. Otherwise this is liable to come to a screeching halt and that would be a real shame. 

  • Not really so far-fetched.  Take a look at the Transport Canada's "NOTICE OF PROPOSED AMENDMENT (NPA):

    The proposals would remove the distinction between recreational and non-recreational operations and require a pilot permit for any flights within 5 nm of an aerodrome.


  • Developer

    The hobby was doing fine, and has been doing so for 40+ years. That is until suddenly a lot of people with zero experience thought it was perfectly fine to fly wherever and whenever they wanted.

  • FYI. If interested, another forum discussion on air safety issues and new regulations can be found here

  • When drones are outlawed, only outlaws will have drones. (Sorry, couldn't help myself)

  • Note : don't take this seriously :)

    Idea : Every retail drone comes with an electric dog collar. It won't fly if you are not wearing the collar. If you fly too high, too far away, in a restricted area or below a low battery safety point, you get periodic shocks, growing in severity until you land.

    Wait.... that won't work; just put the collar on the spotter, the dog is probably smart enough to not hang about.


  • I normally enjoy the posts on DIY drones, but, this was one of the worst I've seen. Pure speculation.

This reply was deleted.