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CAP Drone Program

Q: How do I become a CAP drone pilot?

A: The CAP drone program has two different opportunities and tracks you can choose to follow to become a drone pilot: 

  • Recreational/Aerospace Education - Flying for fun and learning.

  • Emergency Services - Training and flying to help others in situations such as search and rescue disaster response.

Both paths start in the same place, which is passing one of the FAA tests.  If you are only interested in Recreational/Aerospace Education flying, then the FAA’s TRUST test is quick and so easy that you cannot fail.  If you are interested in being a part of CAP’s Emergency Services, you will likely want to study and take the Part 107 exam to become an FAA certificated Remote Pilot.  For someone who is not already an aircraft pilot, the study likely requires 4-5 days and the test costs $175 (Feb 2024) at a regional testing center.  Someone that is already a pilot can generally study and pass an online version of the test in 2 hours for free.  The TRUST test is a great place to start and you can take the Part 107 at any time if you decide you need it.

The final step is to meet the prerequisites for and take a CAPF 70-5U checkride with a CAP sUAS Check Airman to show that you are competent and safe to fly in the CAP program.  Pretty much everything you need to know is well explained in full detail in the CAPF 70-5U Ground School on the Civil Air Patrol Drone Wiki.

If you want to continue on into the Emergency Services part of the CAP drone program, read on.

 

Q: What are the roles for Cadets in the CAP sUAS program?

A: CAPR 70-4 does not limit Cadet participation.  Cadets can fill any role including sUAS Mission Pilot.

 

Q: What are the FAA age requirements for being a drone pilot?

A: Recreational Pilot (TRUST) - No age requirement; FAA certificated Remote Pilot (Part 107) - 16 years

 

Q: What role do drones play in CAP’s Emergency Services Mission?

A: This varies significantly by wing. In New Hampshire (February 2024) we are developing our capabilities with a focus toward being able to support various state and federal agencies with aerial survey and photogrammetry for disaster response, with future possibilities in search and rescue and forest fire thermal survey.  In February 2024 we were able to field one aircrew and performed our first drone sortie as part of a wing TRAINEX.   Our goal is to expand the number of aircrews both in numbers and geographically so that we can offer these capabilities across the state and for the duration of whatever mission that needs it.

 

Q: What does a UAS Mission Pilot (UASMP) do?

A: The UASMP is the PIC (Pilot In Charge) and responsible for the overall conduct of the UAS sortie including safety and compliance with laws and regulations.

 

Q: What does a UAS Technician (UAST) do?

A: UASTs support the UAS sortie in every aspect of the operation including mission planning, flight safety, technology support, objective scanning, and data collection and analysis.

 

Q: Why should you become part of CAP’s Emergency Services drone program?

A: Many possible reasons:

  • You want to help other people in need.

  • You enjoy learning new skills and new technologies.

  • You like flying drones but need a mission to make it more fun.

  • You want to add something impressive to your resume, maybe to go further into aviation as a career.

 

Q: How do I become part of CAP sUAS aircrew?

A: All UAS sorties require a minimum of one UASMP and one UAST.  Both are equally needed and equally respected.  The qualifications for both roles have a lot of overlap, so even if your goal is to become a UASMP, you should start out as a UAST.

 

UAST (Technician) Training and Qualification

Prerequisite Classes for sUAST

Complete the following in Learning Management System (AXIS):

  • GES - General Emergency Services

  • Aircrew Professionalism Course

  • CAPT 117 ES Continuing Education Exam Part 1

  • CAPT 117 ES Continuing Education Exam Part 2

  • ICUT - Introductory Communications User Training

Sign up for a FEMA Student Identification Number (SID) here.

Access the EMI student portal on FEMA here.

Complete the following FEMA classes:

eServices - Operations Qualifications/SQTR Tasks

Follow the online Drone Wiki Version of the Mission sUAS Task Guide and work with an appropriate Skill Evaluator to approve requirements.

Familiarization and Preparatory Training (Fam & Prep)

  1. Attend sUAST Fam & Prep training, offered online several times per year.

  2. Attend sUAS mission aircrew school or multiple training events to complete advanced training and mission participation exercises.

 

UASMP (Mission Pilot) Training and Qualification

Before starting advanced training for UASMP rating:

  1. Get access to a drone

  2. Log 4 hours of flying time

  3. Pass the FAA Part 107 examination

  4. Complete a Form 5U checkride

Progression from UAST to UASMP

  1. Complete UAST training, gaining a thorough understanding of UASMP requirements.

  2. Follow the online Drone Wiki Version of the Mission sUAS Task Guide and work with an appropriate Skill Evaluator to approve requirements.

  3. Do a CAPF 70-91U checkout with a CAP UAS Misson Checkpilot.

Tips and Suggestions

  • Start with the UAST rating to become familiar with the sUAS program and requirements.

  • Attend sUAST Fam & Prep training, offered online several times per year.

  • Attend sUAS mission aircrew school or multiple training events to complete advanced training and mission participation exercises.

 

Q: Where do I learn more about the CAP UAS program?

A: The key resources are:

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