Starting a Drone Program

If your agency is planning on starting a drone program, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve trained hundreds of GIS specialists, police, firefighters and first responders. We will customize a training program to fit your needs, whether you are just starting out or would like to take your existing program to the next level. As an authorized dealer I can also help you select the right equipment for your needs. I carry all of the major brands like DJI, Autel, Parrot and Fox Fury.

I recommend you download and review the USDOJ Report on Drones for Public Safety Agencies but while you’re here, please keep reading. I’ll share a few basics on getting started.

Step 1. Determine how you will use UAS in your operations

I recommend you give careful thought to what types of uses you have in mind for your drone program.  Some examples include:

  • Situational awareness
  • Search and rescue
  • Crime scene documentation
  • Accident reconstruction 
  • Mapping
  • Fire scene management

Step 2. Choose a path for FAA approval

The FAA has a good guide for public safety agencies looking to start a program.

FAA Logo

There are two ways for your agency to obtain FAA approval for flight operations. Your pilots may operate under the Part 107 rule[1] (obtain an airman certificate with a small unmanned aircraft system rating) or, your agency may apply for a certificate of authorization (COA)[2]. Some agencies do both as each of these certifications authorize specific activities. Obtaining the Part 107 certification requires you to pass a knowledge exam and will require study and preparation. The COA process involves the agency to obtain FAA approval through an online portal. This process is a bit more complex and requires the preparation and submission of a number of documents. The COA process may take few weeks or could take up to 60 days.

Fortunately, the FAA no longer requires your sUAS pilots to obtain a manned aircraft pilot’s license as they once did. However, agencies applying for a COA need to show the FAA that their pilots and observers have obtained sufficient training. I can aid your agency in navigating through this process. My training will support the FAA’s training requirement. For more information about a COA please visit the FAA’s website.

Step 3. Identify and purchase the equipment for your program

Before you start looking at equipment it is wise to give thoughtful attention to how you plan on using it. This will help you make informed decisions about what equipment to choose and believe me, there are lots of choices!  I am a dealer that carries most everything that law enforcement is looking for. I am a retired Captain from Green Bay so I have a good understanding how agencies use the equipment and which equipment would be suit them.  I have tested everything I sell.  Once you reach the point where are looking for equipment I can provide you advice and quotes.  

If you decide to hire me to train your pilots, I’ll customize the training to include setup and use of the equipment you will be using. To accomplish this, it would be best for you to purchase the equipment early on in the program.  If your agency does not yet own your own equipment, I do have training units available. Titletown Drones is a Wisconsin based dealer and I offer public safety packages. As part of my consulting services, I will give you advice on which equipment to buy.

I created the video below to demonstrate a popular public safety drone with thermal capabilities.  While there are a lot of choices out there this video touches on the difference in some of the most popular drones and their thermal camera systems.  

Step 4. Identify your Pilots and Schedule Training

In order to operationalize your program, I recommend that your pilots start by obtaining the Part 107 certification from the FAA. Doing so will provide them a strong working knowledge of airspace rules and unmanned aviation principles. As part of the ground school, I will explain how to obtain this certification and help your pilots prepare for the written exam.

As I am sure you are aware, classroom training does not fully prepare your pilots for flight operations. They will need hands-on experience and practical skills to succeed. This training program will cover the fundamentals of unmanned flight customized to your aircraft. The program will include a blend of classroom and field training.

The FAA published the Remote ID rule on December 28, 2020 that goes into effect later this year. It is important to stay up to date so my training will keep you apprised of the latest regulations and industry trends.

I can provide you a quote on training based upon the number of pilots you are looking to train. Below is a sample of just some of the training options I offer.

Training Overview:

Part 107 Test Preparation

This training will help your pilots prepare for and pass the FAA’s written exam which is required to obtain a license to legally operate an unmanned aircraft. This is commonly referred to as the “part 107 exam”. This course will teach your pilots the rules of airspace, aerodynamics, aircraft maintenance, emergency procedures and the principles of unmanned aviation. We will also train your pilots in the applicable state and federal laws, share best practices, and provide information on gaining public support.

Flight Training

We will provide your pilots hands-on flight training. Student pilots will develop their skills and pilot the drone in an outdoor environment under the direct supervision of a licensed flight instructor. The student pilot will master a series of flight maneuvers and learn how to use the drone for air support, crime scene documentation, search and rescue.  We’ll also you teach you how to recover from malfunctions.

This comprehensive program has been specifically designed for public safety agencies. Captain Bill Bongle (Ret.) provides specialized training through strong law enforcement experience with policy development, public relations and risk management. Captain Bongle is a licensed remote pilot who has years of experience piloting sUAS and training new pilots.

5 Reasons this Training is the Best Option for Your Agency

  1. Most training programs require you to attend the training at the trainer’s facility.  This means your agency would incur travel expenses for sending your employees to these remote locations.  Titletown Drones instructors will come to you! We will provide classroom and flight training in your community which will save your agency time, money and resources.
  2. If your agency adopted a new technology such as Total Station or TASER™, you would certainly train your employees first. Drones may look easy to fly but piloting a done is complicated and untrained pilots are at a high risk of crashing. This creates a risk of personal injury and property damage. Training will reduce your liability.
  3. Employees of government agencies are required to obtain FAA approval before piloting a remote aircraft unless they are under direct supervision of a licensed sUAS pilot. Our instructors are  certified remote pilots and therefore they can legally instruct your student pilots and observers, even if they are not yet certified remote pilots.
  4. Titletown Drones founder, Bill Bongle is a professional police trainer and this training program is geared specifically toward public safety agencies. As a retired police captain, Bill is very familiar with policy development, public relations and risk management.  He has  years of experience piloting drones and training new pilots.
  5. Use of a drone will be highly beneficial to your community. There is a good chance that sometime in the future, a drone will help you save a life. I urge you to be on the forefront of this cutting edge technology

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