You’ve decided that 2022 is the year you’re going to learn to fly a drone. You don’t know much about UAVs (yet), and you thought you’d change that by enrolling in an online school. One such school that caught your eye is the Pilot Institute. Is this online drone flight school worthwhile?
Pilot Institute is a great resource for learning to fly drones and airplanes alike. You can select the courses you’re interested in, pay for each one individually, and gain lifetime access to the video materials. You can even take practice quizzes or use a flashcard app.
We’ve just scratched the surface when it comes to what Pilot Institute offers. In this extensive guide, we’ll discuss the history of the organization, go over the available courses in-depth, and of course, talk about pricing. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll know whether the Pilot Institute is right for you!
What is Pilot Institute? Who’s the Founder?
Let’s start by lifting back the curtain and revealing some backstory about the Pilot Institute.
As we touched on in the intro, Pilot Institute specializes in drone flight and airplane flight instructional lessons that cover the fundamentals as well as areas you’ll naturally want to learn about next. For instance, you can take a course on how to make money with your drone.
For the sake of this article, we’re only going to talk about Pilot Institute’s drone courses, but there’s a whole other side to this coin.
All courses offered by Pilot Institute are taught by remote pilots, flight instructors, Federal Aviation Administration or FAA commercial pilots, and other certified professionals. The instructors have experience in education too so they can make your lessons fun, engaging, interesting, and informative.
Headquartered in Prescott, Arizona, the team at Pilot Institute is led by co-founders Johann Beishline and Greg Reverdiau.
Greg was born in France and has lived in the United States since 2002. All along, he was involved in aviation, with more than two decades of experience in the industry. He’s worked as a commercial airline pilot and was an FAA Safety Team Representative.
Further, he acted as the President of a large Part 141 flight school.
Johann came up with the idea for Pilot Institute after flying a hot air balloon with his grandfather. Together, Beishline and Reverdiau created a school that has attracted more than 100,000 students who live in nearly 100 different countries.
The Pilot Institute team follows four pillars: connected, current, capable, and confident.
The “connected” pillar is because Pilot Institute has an online network where students can connect and study together to share their knowledge.
The “current” pillar refers to the knowledge imparted in the courses, which is always up to the current FAA standards, especially when applying for your Part 107 license to legally fly a drone in the US.
The “capable” pillar means that the Pilot Institute team wants their students to become knowledgeable and capable after taking their courses. In reviewing metrics for information absorption and retainment, Pilot Institute can make that possible.
Finally, the “confident” pillar refers to a student’s confidence in flying their drone. They will walk into an FAA exam knowing they can do it. But Pilot Institute graduates also possess other useful drone knowledge that extends well beyond what’s on the exam.
What can you learn at Pilot Institute?
As of this writing, Pilot Institute offers 19 drone flight courses in all. Let’s take a closer look at most of the courses and the information therein.
Part 107 Commercial Drone License Course
Let’s start with what is probably the most popular Pilot Institute drone course, the Part 107 Commercial Drone License Course.
If you’re not already aware, the FAA issues Part 107 licenses to drone pilots ages 16 or over who prove their proficiency on a written exam. The exam tests whether you can safely fly a drone while sticking within FAA rules.
Commercial drone pilots must have a Part 107 license, so if you ever hope to make a dime from drone videography, photography, or flight, you’ll have to pass this exam yourself.
Pilot Institute has updated its Part 107 Commercial Drone License Course so it’s current with the FAA’s standards as of 2021. The course includes video instruction for 15 hours overall.
You will pass the Part 107 exam, Pilot Institute promises, or you’ll get your $175 back. That’s their guarantee to instill confidence in you to enroll in this course.
According to Pilot Institute, 99.8 percent of their students pass the Part 107 exam after taking the Part 107 Commercial Drone License Course.
Drone Business Made Easy
Once you earn your Part 107 exam through Pilot Institute, you might consider enrolling in the Drone Business Made Easy course.
This online course has all the information you need to establish a drone business or just to use your drone as a side hustle. The course includes seven hours of videos with step-by-step instructions for getting started making money flying your drone.
Included also are 25 assignments for making your own actionable business plan. Pilot Institute also includes a free business template you can use.
Commercial Drone Pilot Bundle: Part 107 + Drone Business
You can fast-track your success with the Commercial Drone Pilot Bundle. This cost-effective deal from Pilot Institute includes the above two courses in one, offering 20 hours of informative footage in all.
Drone Maneuvers Mastery
Do you want to show off using your drone to all your friends? Then Pilot Institute’s Drone Maneuvers Mastery course is a must.
The course will cover 50 drone flight maneuvers that are divided by difficulty. You can start with the easy ones and then work your way up. Watch live explanations from real drone pros and read the PDF guide to pull off these stunts yourself!
Drone Flying 101
If you’re brand new to the world of drones, then start with the Drone Flying 101 class. This Pilot Institute course includes nearly five hours of educational video content that will cover such information as how to fly, how to do basic drone maneuvers, what weather you should avoid when flying, and where you can legally fly.
Cinematic FPV Drone From Scratch
Creating the perfect first-person view or FPV drone doesn’t have to be hard when you take the Cinematic FPV Drone From Scratch class. For more advanced drone pilots, this Pilot Institute course provides three hours of video instruction for making an FPV drone.
DJI FPV Deep Dive
Pilot Institute offers a slew of courses that will make you a DJI master. Since DJI are among the most best-selling yet expensive drones on the market, it makes sense for Pilot Institute to focus on this manufacturer in particular.
The DJI FPV Deep Dive course is free yet still offers three hours of compelling content. For instance, you can glean more about Turtle Mode, Return to Home, Image Roll Correction, and EIS settings.
DJI Air 2S Deep Dive
Maybe you prefer the DJI Air 2S. In that case, then don’t miss the DJI Air 2S Deep Dive, which will teach you everything there is to know about this drone. Whether you want to improve in areas like videography, photography, or maneuvering, with three hours of video footage, you can!
Public Safety COA Made Easy
Some people want to learn to fly a drone to better serve public safety. The Public Safety COA Made Easy course from Pilot Institute is the first step to earning your Certificate of Authorization or COA.
The course teaches how to get a Tactical Beyond Visual Line of Sight waiver, the different types of COAs, and how to apply for a COA.
DRONERESPONDERS Part 107 and Public Safety COA Course
Emergency services professionals and first responders will get a lot out of the DRONERESPONDERS Part 107 and Public Safety COA Course. This two-in-one course will help you quickly earn your Part 107 exam. You also gain free membership to DRONERESPONDERS, a public safety community of drone users.
NIST UAS Made Easy
Do you have a UAS background and want to learn more about the National Institute of Science and Technology or NIST drone flight standards? Then the NIST UAS Made Easy course is tailor-made for you!
Recreational Flying Made Easy
The Recreational Flying Made Easy class is free and only takes two hours to complete, so you might as well put the time into it. Even aspiring commercial drone pilots can learn a thing or two from this Pilot Institute course, which discusses regulations and tells you everything you need to do to ready up for your first drone flight.
You can even pick the brains of a FAASTeam Drone Pro or FAA-certified flight instructor to get your most burning questions answered.
Part 107 Night Training Course
Flying a drone at night is a whole different ballgame. You’ll be ready for flying after dark once you take the Part 107 Night Training Course.
This short, hour-long course explains what you should do if you’re flying at night and an airplane approaches, how to respond when flying near an airport with a closed tower, and how you can obtain nighttime flight authorization.
Ultimate Drone Pilot Guide
How about a course that rolls up all the need-to-know drone knowledge into one convenient course? That’d be the Ultimate Drone Pilot Guide, a 75-minute course with fun, educational videos.
You’ll learn all the basics, such as what separates a registration from a drone flight license, what recreational drone pilots can do in the skies versus commercial drone pilots, and even how to earn some cash by flying your drone.
What are the other features of Pilot Institute?
You want more than just schooling when choosing an online drone school, so what else does Pilot Institute offer? Here’s an overview covering the full breadth of their services.
Short video lessons
With 210 video lessons across the entire 19 courses (and counting), Pilot Institute offers video learning because it’s an effective educational tool.
Although some of the courses are two or three hours long, that doesn’t mean each lesson in the course is that long. Instead, the average length of each video in a lesson is three minutes. Pilot Institute strives to make its content easily digestible so you’re not left suffering from information overload.
Although you pay for a Pilot Institute course only once, your money gives you access to the information in the course for life. You don’t have to cram in a half-dozen video lessons in a week because the lessons are going to expire. You can learn at a more relaxed pace that works with your lifestyle.
As a Part 107 license holder, you’ll really appreciate the lifetime lesson access, as you must retest for your license every two years. Being able to re-watch content comes in handy if you’re fuzzy on certain drone concepts or rules.
To prepare you for the Part 107 exam, Pilot Institute lets you take up to 20 quizzes as well as unlimited practice exams. The questions on the practice tests are lifted from real FAA exams. You’ll feel readier to pass your test than ever!
Lesson notes and cheat sheets
Make your study sessions more effective with cheat sheets and lesson notes courtesy of Pilot Institute. The notes include lecture slides.
As we talked about earlier, as a Pilot Institute student, you can connect with other current drone pilot students to form virtual study groups. In a study group, you can comment on lessons, and get instructor feedback.
If you need one-on-one support through Pilot Institute’s instructors, that’s available as well!
Certificate of Completion
You took the time and put in the work, so you’ll want to show that off. Passing Pilot Institute courses will earn you a certificate that you can add to your resume.
Don’t forget to download the free Flashcard app for Android and iPhone models. The Flashcard app has 110 cards that you can use to brush up on your knowledge or study before your Part 107 exam, and all from your smartphone.
How Much Do Pilot Institute’s Courses Cost?
As we’ve established, some of Pilot Institute’s courses are available for free, but not all. This list breaks down the prices in full:
- Part 107 Commercial Drone License Course – $249
- Drone Business Made Easy – $199
- Commercial Drone Pilot Bundle: Part 107 + Drone Business – $449
- Drone Maneuvers Mastery – $99
- Drone Flying 101 – $99
- Cinematic FPV Drone From Scratch – $99
- DJI FPV Deep Dive – $0
- DJI Air 2S Deep Dive – $0
- Public Safety COA Made Easy – $0
- DRONERESPONDERS Part 107 and Public Safety COA Course – $149
- NIST UAS Made Easy – $49
- Recreational Flying Made Easy – $0
- Part 107 Night Training Course – $0
- Ultimate Drone Pilot Guide – $0
- DJI Mavic Air 2 Deep Dive – $0
- DJI Mini 2 Deep Dive – $0
- DJI Mavic Mini Deep Dive – $0
- Parrot Anafi Thermal Deep Dive – $0
- Parrot Anafi USA – $0
How is Pilot Institute rated?
It doesn’t matter what you’re buying. You like to rely on reviews to influence your decision-making. This is smart on your part, and we recommend it too. So what are people saying about Pilot Institute?
The website has its own reviews section (link) with a collection of 11,375 reviews as compiled by Trustpilot. By the way, Trustpilot is a third-party service for general reviews.
Of the 11,375 reviews, Pilot Institute has amassed a score of 4.9/5. That’s not perfect, but it’s darn near close.
With both positive and negative reviews, Pilot Institute staff members will respond. The team is especially willing to work with those who left negative reviews to assuage the situation and help the paying user get the most of their Pilot Institute experience (well, if they paid for a lesson at all, that is).
Admittedly, on Pilot Institute’s website, you see mostly sterling five-star reviews. The only less-than-perfect review is one for three stars, and that’s not bad.
If you’d rather read some negative reviews and then work your way up to the positive ones, here (link) is Trustpilot’s page for Pilot Institute reviews, which you can access from the Pilot Institute website. You just have to click the name Trustpilot.
Is Pilot Institute worth it?
Okay, now it’s time to address that question that we’re sure we’ve had lingering in the back of your mind the whole time you’ve been reading this. Is Pilot Institute a good online drone flight school?
The answer is undoubtedly, yes, it is. Pilot Institute has the credentials through their talented team of FAA drone pilots as well as airline pilots (remember, they also offer airplane flight courses) and other professionals in these two industries.
The Pilot Institute lessons are divided into short video lessons that focus on fun so the information presented isn’t dry or boring. You’re not just enjoying yourself when watching the video lessons, of course, but you’re learning as well.
To supplement the videos, you can use templates, take practice tests, and even download the free Flashcard app to study whenever you have five minutes. You also gain access to online study groups as well as one-on-one instructor support if you need it.
If you’re worried about the cost, Pilot Institute is one of the best online ground schools out there in terms of bang for your buck. Many of the courses are free, especially those that are centered around specific drone models such as from Parrot or DJI.
The courses that aren’t free are affordable, and even the higher-cost courses have a price commensurate with the information you’re receiving. Plus, Pilot Institute sometimes offers sales that can slash the prices considerably.
Whatever you pay to learn at Pilot Institute, remember that the content is yours for life!
Pilot Institute is an online flight instructional resource that offers plane flight and drone flight lessons. You can pick and choose which drone courses you want to take, and some are completely free. The video lessons make it easy to learn at your pace, and you own the material once you enroll in the course.
Whether you’re a complete drone beginner, someone who’s reapplying for a Part 107 drone license, or a new drone business owner, there’s something for you to learn at Pilot Institute.