This page was last updated in March 2022.
Please use the Chapter navigation to learn more about company policies and training guidelines, and you use the quick link below to let us know how each training goes.
Quick Link: Let us know how your training went!
UAV Coach is an industry-leading sUAS training company that reports on drone industry news to a community of over 75,000 drone enthusiasts around the world each Saturday morning. We track global regulations and product launches, we promote organizations doing remarkable things in the drone industry, and we publish a ton of content for folks looking to fly commercially — whether it’s building their own aerial service company, working for a public safety organization, doing research or being part of an enterprise-level drone program.
Here are some links to a few of our top resources:
Back in 2016 when the Part 107 regulations went into effect, we launched Drone Pilot Ground School, an online test prep course for U.S. commercial drone pilots looking to pass the FAA Aeronautical Knowledge Test. Since then, more than 45,000 students have used Drone Pilot Ground School to get their FAA Remote Pilot Certificate—from solo drone operators and small teams to police and fire departments and enterprise organizations like Intel, GE, and PrecisionHawk. We’re proud of our 3,000+ 4 and 5-star reviews and do our best to stay on top of regulations and FAA standards.
In 2018, we started to offer in-person training. We offer 1:1 and small-group training through our network of drone flight instructors — that’s you! We also offer enterprise and custom training. To date, we have trained over 1,500 students.
Equipment. You will provide your own sUAS — either a DJI Mavic, Phantom, or Inspire series — and 3 batteries. If the student brings his or her own sUAS, it is your responsibility to ensure that the use of that sUAS complies with all applicable laws and regulations and will not have a negative impact on safety or on the course of instruction.
Location. Please choose a training location in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. You are responsible for personal travel to and from the training location. Occasionally, a student or larger group might request you to travel to them directly — in this case, we’ll work with you and the student on additional compensation to account for your travel.
Customer Recruiting and Scheduling. We have the primary responsibility for recruiting students and scheduling instructional sessions in consultation with you and as permitted by your availability. After initial scheduling, it shall be your responsibility to maintain communication with prospective students to address changes or cancellations due to weather or other contingencies.
Course of Instruction. The course of instruction shall be determined by your professional judgment in consultation with the student(s), environmental conditions, aircraft limitation, time constraints, and reference to a recommended outline provided by us. It is your ultimate responsibility to tailor the instruction with safety as the first priority while ensuring that the student is a better and safer pilot at the conclusion of training.
Independent Contractor Relationship. Your relationship with UAV Coach is that of an independent contractor. You have full responsibility for the payment of all federal, state and local taxes and contributions, including penalties and interest, imposed pursuant to unemployment insurance, social security, income tax, workmen’s compensation or any other similar statute or regulation. Here’s a link to the Independent Contractor Agreement.
Liability Insurance. Here’s a link to our $1 million liability insurance policy. It covers both you AND the student, flying your aircraft OR the student’s aircraft. It’s a custom and flexible policy designed to protect both you and the student in the unfortunate event of an incident. No need for you to purchase Verifly / SkyWatch / DroneInsurance.com for your training classes.
Aircraft Hull Damage. You’ll exercise due care to avoid damage to aircraft involved in flight training. In the event that your aircraft is damaged while providing instruction, UAV Coach will assist in repair and replacement costs pursuant to the following schedule (per occurrence):
Damage to Student Aircraft. Should Contractor fly the student’s aircraft during training or choose to permit a student to fly the student’s aircraft during training, and if this results in an incident causing damage to the student’s aircraft, Contractor shall file an incident report with Company. Company will be responsible for communication with the student after the incident. Contractor will work with Company to determine an appropriate course of action in response to the incident. We do not insure any damage to the student’s aircraft.
Getting Paid. Coaches are compensated:
The majority of flight training classes will be 1-3 students. In the event that we have a larger group, we do our best to set expectations with customers that 1) the larger the group, the less flight time students will get, and 2) that we don’t typically like to train longer than a half-day (4 hours).
Of course, there are exceptions and edge cases, and we will work with both you and the students to ensure expectations are being met prior to commitment.
If you worked with a student who requested help setting up their drone (as in, directly from the box) prior to or following a scheduled training session, please let Judy know by adding comments in the notes field of the Training Complete form so you can be compensated accordingly.
Inclement Weather. Instructors are responsible for looking at local weather forecasts and messaging the student to reschedule the class. Use good judgment here. If the winds are going to be greater than 15-20 mph, we’d recommend rescheduling. If there’s more than a 50% chance of precipitation forecasted 1-2 days before your training, we’d also recommend rescheduling. More info on the rescheduling process below.
Advice Regarding Laws and Regulations: UAV Coach and its instructors do not provide legal advice. Our training material related to laws and regulations has been prepared for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal advice. You should consult your own legal advisor with any legal questions.
Clothing: Instructors should wear a UAV Coach polo shirt (that we provide) or clothing suitable for spending several hours outside in an unprotected environment and are urged to check the weather forecast prior to attending class. We also ask our instructors to wear closed-toed shoes and the UAV Coach lanyard we provide.
Late Policy: If the student is more than 15 minutes late and not responding to your texts / calls, we ask that you head home. Please let us know so that we can 1) compensate you for your lost time; and 2) reach out to the student to find out what happened.
During the course of your training class, if you are encountered by a law enforcement officer, park official or other security personnel asking questions, we ask you to loop us in ASAP over phone and in a written email.
And if there’s an accident to either your or your student’s sUAS, please fill out this incident report with as many details as possible and we’ll then hop on the phone to discuss.
Students learn about our flight training program on our primary sales page, and when they are ready to book will select a location, and then the date and time on your calendar as managed in Calendly, the booking software we use.
Here’s a 10-minute screencast that walks through how to set up and manage your availability in Calendly:
When a student books time with you, you’ll be sent an email from Calendly that looks like this.
You’ll also be sent a calendar invite that looks like this:
The student will receive an email and calendar invite as well.
48 hours before the class, the student receives a text message that looks like this:
And 24 hours before the class, the student gets an email reminder that looks like this:
As an instructor, you’ll just get the initial email and calendar invite.
At any time, you’re able to log into your Calendly account to get a list of your upcoming training classes.
We ask that you be responsible for making a go or no-go decision due to inclement weather. More on that in the next section!
Here’s a video that walks through the rescheduling or cancellation process, either on your end or on the student’s end:
One thing not mentioned in the video — both the Reschedule and Cancel links are unique to that particular training session. So you’ll need to go directly into the calendar invite for the session you’re trying to find those links for.
Here are a few instances in which classes might be booked outside of the more streamlined and automated Calendly system:
If any of these apply, the student will contact Judy via phone or email to coordinate the details. Specifically, with large group or on-location training requests, Judy will reach out to you directly to inquire about your level of comfort with the proposed training. It’s okay to say no! We know that we cannot be everything to everyone.
Once the training session is coordinated and payment has been made, Judy will send a confirmation email to both you and the student(s) to include contact information, details about the training session, and our terms and conditions.
After a student books a class (either through Judy or Calendly), there’s no need to follow-up with the student. We’ll take care of all the reminders, just show up to the training and deliver a kick-butt experience for the student!
You’re welcome to connect with the student prior to training if you have specific questions based on the student’s intake form, such as questions about their stated training goals/intentions, or if you’d just like to introduce yourself. As a best practice, we do not provide your contact information to anyone until after a student has booked a flight training session.
Should a student become unresponsive, please let us know.
Should you need to brush up on a particular model prior to a training session, check out the resource links below.
We have included some of our own YouTube videos when available and have removed models that are no longer in production like the Mavic 1 Pro or Phantom 3 series — it’s rare that students would show up to a training class with one of these models, but if you need guidance on any of those systems, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Mavic 2 Pro & Zoom
Mavic 2 Enterprise
Phantom 4 Advanced
Phantom 4 Pro
Phantom 4 Pro v2.0
Phantom 4 RTK
Due to the more complicated nature of setting up a Matrice, we only allow instructors who have had prior experience and expertise with the Matrice to help the student get set up with this model. Be sure to let Judy know if you are willing to train on a Matrice, as corporate customers are often willing to travel in order to receive training.
We have not publicized training on the FPV drone but have received inquiries. At this time we are not rolling out FPV training as part of our standard curriculum. As an instructor, if a student brings along an FPV drone to training, please proceed to your comfort level. Let Judy know if you are willing to train more in-depth on FPV, as students seem willing to travel in order to receive training.
In advance of your training class:
Before you leave, make sure that you’ve packed:
Regulations & Airspace
To support our flight instructors, we thought it might be helpful to develop a set of training standards, so that’s what this section is all about.
Here’s a one-page training checklist you might find helpful to print out and to bring with you to your training classes.
Please budget time for traffic and plan to arrive at your training site 5-10 minutes early. Look the student in the eyes with a big smile and introduce yourself!
It’d be great to be set up before the student arrives, but that might not be practical if you’re meeting at a parking lot that requires a short walk to the take-off location and don’t want to leave your gear unattended. Use good judgment. As you’re walking to the take-off location and getting everything out of packaging / bags, here are some things I’d consider:
Make sure to introduce yourself.
Tell them about your experience with sUAS and why you like to teach. Build some credibility and show the student that you know what you’re doing, but more importantly that you’re excited to dive deep into some drone training over the next couple of hours 🙂 Students can feel that energy and passion, and it starts with a kind of formal, “Hey, this is who I am and what I’m excited to teach you about today.”
It’s really important to set an agenda for the training session. This is an outdoor flight training session, so there won’t be PowerPoint slides with bullet points, but try to set some expectations about how the next couple of hours will go. You’ll fly and talk and fly and talk. You’ll be performing beginning AND advanced moves. And you’re not just practicing flight proficiency, but operations management and what to do before and after your flights as well.
This is also a great opportunity to reinforce the student’s primary goal for the training.
Ask them to clarify their biggest challenges / goals for the training, and let them know you’ll be going over exactly that during the class.
There are infinite ways to successfully conduct a two-hour flight training session.
We’re not here to be prescriptive. At the same time, we recognize that it might be helpful to have some general guidelines or an outline of how an ideal class might look.
That’s the goal of this section.
Over time, as we get more students and learn more about what’s working for each of you as flight coach, we’ll improve our training guidelines and set of resources below.
We’d advise using our one-page training checklist to manage your pacing.
Here are some added comments:
Here’s an outline of core training topics and guidelines:
This is a legacy app and a bit clunkier than the DJI Fly app, but if the drone your student brings is using this app, this section share some thoughts on how to train on it.
When teaching this app, I like to start at the top left of the app screen (the DJI logo), and work my way clockwise around the screen, from the logo, to the green / yellow / red status indicator, to the top icons and General Settings menu, to the Photo / Video settings, to the map and telemetry data on the bottom part of the screen, to the take-off, Return-to-Home and Intelligent Flight mode buttons on the left side of the screen. There’s a lot to teach here.
While there’s no one catch-all pre-flight checklist that’ll work for every pilot and every sUAS model, hopefully the below bullet points help you better understand the best practices around powering up your aircraft and taking to the skies. First, let’s assume:
You’ve just rolled up to the site location and are getting out of your car.
Here’s a checklist of things to consider as part of your pre-flight ritual. Again, these are not exhaustive and might change depending on the specific model you’re operating and type of flight missions you’re conducting. Some of these are captured in our one-page training checklist, and below is some added context and more specifics around weather/site safety.
Okay, let’s dive in:
WEATHER & SITE SAFETY CHECK
VISUAL AIRCRAFT / SYSTEM INSPECTION
See Chapter 9, Training Maneuvers, for specific exercises to use with students.
As you wrap up the training, thank the student for their time and let them know that they’ll receive an email from UAV Coach after class providing some helpful links, as well as an opportunity to provide feedback on the class and that if they aren’t already getting our weekly industry update emails, they’ll start to get those on Saturday mornings.
This can also be a great time to mention TRUST (The Recreational UAS Safety Test), a free online training required for U.S. recreational flyers of drones. UAV Coach is an FAA-approved test administrator of TRUST so this training is available on our website and takes less than 30 minutes to complete.
This is the crux of the training! Actually getting up in the air and flying. Use good judgment when it comes to assessing the comfort level and skill of the student, and try to strike a balance between being safe / conservative and pushing the student outside his or her comfort zone.
Here are some sound bites that we’ve heard from our coaches:
And here’s a list of flight patterns and challenges you can do with the student, from the most basic to the more advanced:
You can also check out our YouTube video for more ideas:
After your class, please fill out this short Training Complete Form.
Completing this form accomplishes a few things:
Best practice is that you fill out this form the same day you do the training.
You’re welcome to follow up directly with your student following a training session, especially if you spoke to specific apps or links during the training. Or you can let the student know they’ll receive the following email from UAV Coach.
We couldn’t run our flight training program without you! Although our network of flight instructors are throughout the U.S., we make every effort to keep you connected.
We encourage our instructors to take photos and videos from each of your training classes!
We host meetings (via Zoom) with our instructors on a quarterly basis to discuss a variety of topics and general team building. Attendance at these meetings is not mandatory, as we understand that you have obligations outside of UAV Coach. We’ll always provide a link to view the recorded meeting so you can keep up-to-date with content.
Information about the quarterly meetings will be published within the monthly newsletter.
The first week of each month, an email newsletter is sent to you containing items such as upcoming events (like a quarterly meeting), photos from previous training sessions, pro tips, feedback from students and statistics on flight training students and classes.
If you come up with topics you’d like to share/highlight in an upcoming newsletter, you can send them to email@example.com.
We offer a mentorship program to help support new flight instructors as they begin training with UAV Coach. As part of the onboarding process, a mentor (current flight instructor) will be made available to you to provide assistance and guidance. A mentor would be available to walk through the training outline prior to your early training sessions, debrief after a training session or just provide a few pro tips along the way.
The mentorship is intended to last your first 90 days as a flight instructor, or after you’ve trained your first 3 students, whatever happens later.
Reach out to Judy for more information on how you can volunteer as a mentor with this program.
If you’re traveling within the U.S. and would like to connect with another instructor, or just inquire about their favorite places to fly, here’s a list of our current instructors by location. If you’d like specific contact information, just let Judy know!
Mobile, AL – John
Phoenix, AZ – Robert
Tucson, AZ – Joey
Jonesboro, AR – Mike
Los Angeles (Glendale), CA – Jim B
Los Angeles (Inland Empire), CA – Jim G
San Diego, CA – Steve
San Francisco (Oakland), CA – Roger
Denver, CO – Leo
Miami Beach, FL – Andy
Cape Coral, FL – Terry
Atlanta, GA – Martin
Chicago, IL – Erik
Minonk, IL – Jeff
Baltimore, MD – Seth
Dudley/Shrewsbury, MA – Brad
Long Island (Hempstead), NY – Christian
Central Jersey/Parlin, NJ – Jason
NYC Metro/Demarest, NJ – Shac
Asheville/Charlotte, NC – Pete
Wilmington, NC – Phil
Cleveland, OH – Nik
Portland, OR – Adam
Philadelphia, PA – Seth
Nashville, TN – Matt (& Alan!)
Dallas/Fort Worth, TX – George
Houston (The Woodlands), TX – Michael
San Marcos/Houston, TX – Tom
Northern Virginia/Gainesville VA – James
Seattle, WA – Ken
As mentioned, we handle the marketing efforts and student recruitment for our flight training program. However, if you are interested in doing more to promote your training sessions, here are some tips to better market yourself (and the program)!
If you are interested in creating long-form content for YouTube or short-form content for Reels on Instagram, please reach out to Liz at firstname.lastname@example.org.