The Buckeye State creates a welcoming environment for drone pilots, as Ohio is home to spots like Innis Park, Horseshoe Lake Park, Scioto Grove Metro Park, Goodale Park, Bicentennial Park, and the Main Street Diamond at the Mill Stream Run Reservation.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg, by the way. If you continue exploring Ohio, you’ll find lots of legal spots ideal for hobbyist and commercial projects.
Best of all, you only need a drone certificate to get started.
How to get a drone license in Ohio?
Here’s how to get a drone license in Ohio:
- Meet the FAA’ s eligibility requirements
- Obtain an FAA Tracking Number
- Register at an Ohio FAA Knowledge Testing Center
- Pass the aeronautical knowledge exam
- Send in Form 8710-13 for your license
It’s probably a bit more involved than you realized, right? That was my same reaction when I first reviewed the requirements. It’s all a tad confusing.
I don’t want anything to keep you from achieving your goal of becoming a certified pilot, which is what inspired me to put together this guide.
I’ll demystify the steps required to obtain your commercial license so you can fly high!
To help, we’ve identified and reviewed the best drone courses for beginners and professionals.
Here’s how to obtain a commercial drone license in Ohio
First things first. Let me explain the difference between drone licenses, as you’ll need to know which to pursue as you plan your next steps.
There’s the recreational license or TRUST certificate. This one is good if you’re new to flying and don’t plan on enjoying drones as anything more than a hobby.
The license many more pilots choose is the Remote Pilot Certificate. This commercial license allows you to earn money from your drone. You also have more flight responsibilities and a greater allowance on where you go compared to recreational pilots (although you still have to follow FAA rules).
The process of obtaining a commercial versus recreational drone license is very different, so let’s dive into the steps for becoming a certified pro pilot.
Meet the FAA’s eligibility requirements
The first step is double-checking whether you’re eligible to get your commercial certificate.
The FAA requires you to be 16 or older and mentally and physically capable of drone operation. You also need strong English comprehension; as of this publication, the commercial drone exam isn’t administered in another language.
Then, of course, you have to pass the Part 107 test, but we’ll get to that, don’t you worry.
Obtain an FAA Tracking Number
Are you still with me? Cool.
Now that you’ve checked the first item off your list, it’s time to continue to the next one.
Since you’re a new pilot, the FAA requires you to have a tracking number for monitoring purposes. Appropriately enough, this is referred to as an FAA Tracking Number.
If you’re not new to the FAA by chance, you already have an FTN, so you can skip to the next section.
For everyone else, you will need an account on the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application or IACRA website. It’s an FAA resource with documentation, registry processing information, and certifications.
You’ll be glued to this website later on in the process, so familiarize yourself with its menus now.
That’s not to say the IACRA site is hard to navigate. Let’s review how to create an account, as you’ll need one to get any further.
First, go to the IACRA website via this link. You should see a box to log in, then, underneath that, a Register link. That’s what you need.
You’re now on your way to creating an account on IACRA. The two-page form is straightforward, but I’ll walk you through it anyway, as there are a few tricky parts.
On the first page, all you have to do is check your roles. You will probably only select Applicant, which is fine. If you have other responsibilities, make sure you check them. You can pick multiple roles.
Scroll to the bottom of the page, review the terms of service, and click the button when you agree and want to move on. Simple!
You’re on the second page already. This page starts with Certificate Information, which I want you to skip. You don’t have a Part 107 license yet, so you can’t add anything here anyway.
Stop at the Personal Information section, adding in all the info required. Fill in your Security Questions and the User Name/Password sections, then click Register.
Next, check your email. IACRA will send you a confirmation message. You should then be able to log in. You will see a unique FTN associated with your account.
Register at an Ohio FAA Knowledge Testing Center
You’ve made some real progress, so now it’s time to set up your testing date and location.
The FAA only administers the Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG) exam in person at approved Knowledge Testing Centers.
These are located nationwide, so you can surely find some near you in Ohio, from Cleveland to Toledo, Akron, and Cincinnati.
You need the PSI site to get started, as FAA partners with this organization for test planning and administration. The link for FAA pilots is here.
Click the Create an Account button, and PSI will ask for your name and FTN. They need both to verify that you’re eligible to register for the Part 107 exam.
Next, you can register. It’s a lot simpler to set up an account on PSI than it was on IACRA, so don’t sweat it. You just need to type your name, email address, and a unique username and password. That’s really all there is to it.
Just as you did when registering on IACRA, go to your email inbox after you submit your information to PSI. You will receive a confirmation email.
You can log in after that and use the PSI website freely.
Click the Find a Test Center menu on the site, then type in your Ohio zip code and the distance you’re willing to travel to a Knowledge Testing Center.
Choose Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG) for the exam.
Wait for results to populate, then select a Knowledge Testing Center nearest you. Choose a date and time to take the test, and you’re all set.
Here’s the thing about the Part 107 exam. Not only must you take it in person, but it’s also not free (unlike the recreational exam). It’s not a cheap test, either, costing more than $150.
Yeah, that’s not the not-so-fun part about becoming a commercial pilot. At least once you have your certificate, you don’t have to spend the money again.
Considering the cost, I think it makes sense to invest in your future. That means bypassing the free study guides that can leave holes in your knowledge and skipping right to the good stuff.
There are plenty of beginner courses out there that promise to help you learn the materials on the FAA commercial drone exam, but in my experience, only a handful of them live up to those promises.
The team at Droneblog assembled all those courses into a comprehensive list so you don’t have to go hunting.
These courses are brought to you by the expert minds at Drone Pilot Ground School, Pilot Institute, Drone Pro Academy, Drone Launch Academy, Altitude University, and others. You can’t go wrong no matter which you pick.
The courses are structured so the material is all available online. You can take your lessons with you on the go, learning on your phone, tablet, laptop, or home computer.
All the FAA aeronautic rules are broken down into small modules, and you can take practice tests with real FAA questions.
You’ll be ready for your exam in no time.
Pass the aeronautical knowledge exam
Stay calm, but it’s finally time to take the Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG) test. Here are some pointers to make test day less stressful:
- You must have a valid government-issued photo ID on you to take the test. A driver’s license suffices.
- The test has 60 questions. They’re all multiple-choice, with three answers to choose from.
- You need a score of 70 percent to pass the exam. That means answering 42 questions correctly.
- The test time is two and a half hours.
- You will be given all the materials you need for the exam. If you want to bring a math calculator, though, you can.
- Results will go live on IACRA but can take weeks to appear.
Yes, that last one is a major sticking point, I know. If you take the exam today, you will want to know tomorrow if you passed, but that’s just not how it works.
I always recommend putting it out of your mind, which I recognize is more easier said than done. However, it will help you maintain your sanity.
Send in Form 8710-13
You passed! Woohoo! All that hard work and studying paid off, and now you’re ready to operate your drone as a commercial pilot.
Request your license by logging into IACRA and sending in Form 8710-13. This simple, free form is accessible by choosing Start New Application, then Other Path Information and Start Application. You must select Pilot for the Application Type and Remote Pilot for Certifications.
You’ll need your Knowledge Test Exam ID, which you’ll find in your IACRA account. You also need to sign the form electronically before you submit it.
IACRA will get right to work processing the application, which requires forwarding your information to the TSA for a background check.
If all goes well, you will hear from IACRA through email. The message will contain a printout version of your license.
I’m sure this wasn’t what you were expecting, right? The real version of your license is on the way, but the FAA has to go through a lot more processing.
Use the printout version of your license, but keep checking your mailbox (your physical one, not your email). The permanent version of your license is coming!
I got my commercial drone license in Ohio – Now what?
First of all, congratulations on becoming a commercial drone license holder in Ohio. That’s a huge accomplishment.
While you might want to rest on your laurels for a bit, there’s more work to be done before you can launch your first flight.
Since you’re flying commercially, you have to register your drone with the FAA no matter how much it weighs, even if it’s less than 250 grams. That weight limit only applies to recreational pilots.
Familiarize yourself with Ohio’s state and local drone laws. Here’s a brief overview:
- In Cleveland, the police will apply all state and federal drone laws to citywide flights.
- The city of Celina prohibits drones from flying over city-owned property.
- In Cincinnati, drones cannot fly in parks without written permission from a board member.
- Cleveland bans drones in its park districts, including launching and landing.
- In Butler County, drones can’t fly in parks without a special permit from an Executive Director unless there’s a designated area.
- In Anderson Township, drones can’t fly in parks under the Park District Rule.
- Hamilton County prohibits drones in parks according to its Great Parks Rule.
- In Toledo, drones can’t fly outside of Westwinds Metropark in other area parks. You need a permit for Westwinds Metropark use.
- Lorain disallows drones in parks throughout the county unless you have a Director’s permit and pay a fee.
Oh, and do you have drone insurance? I always advise new pilots to get it, as it can be a lifesaver in a disastrous situation. You will have the assurance that you won’t have to pay all fees out-of-pocket.
Your commercial drone license will expire in two years after it’s issued. If you wish to keep flying commercially, you should recertify, ideally before expiry so there are no gaps in your commercial usage.
Check out this post for a full breakdown of what renewing your license looks like after the 2021 changes. Spoiler: it’s a lot easier, and it’s free!